On November 27th, 2021, RChain‘s founder Greg Meredith and blockchain scientist Atticbee were invited as guests to an AMA hosted by the Hoo Exchange. Hoo, a Dubai-based crypto exchange, has its own developed public chain called HSC. It is designed for the international cryptocurrency market. Greg Meredith, Atticbee and others shared their latest developments and amazing ideas on the future of blockchain and the metaverse in this session.
For payment platforms, it is a coordination technology.
Greg says that RChain focuses primarily on blockchain technology as a global coordination technology. This is to allow for greater coordination in the face of climate change-related changes. RChain’s purpose is to create a scalable global computing and storage system, not a payments system. A cash register is not sufficient to create a general-purpose computer, but a cash register is enough to make a cash register.
It is the first ever blockchain to scale linearly. It is possible to add hardware/nodes faster than it slows down. Current test data indicates that testnet averages 1,000 tps per CPU per node. A network with 10 CPUs and 10 nodes each receives 10,000 tps. 20 nodes each with 20 CPUs get 20,000 tps. It is possible to store, update, and search data on-chain.
RChain’s smart contract language Rholang, is a concurrent transactional query language, reconciling the best of SQL and NoSQL. You can use it to create sophisticated queries for searching stored data. This makes it stand out from IPFS. Statically checking smart contracts for security and concurrency errors can be done. DAO bugs such as those that caused it will not be discovered until deployment but at compile. Think about what Ethereum would look like if they were running at 40K per second when the DAO Bug was exploited.
Metaverse and RChain Synergy
Greg explained in the AMA his extensive involvement in metaverse research. Kim Fairchild hired him at his research laboratory where Kim Fairchild was doing SemNet. He had worked closely with pioneers in VR/AR. Alan Wexelblat was also suggested the name Software by him.
Greg raised concerns over the reality of our world. The metaverse may be hot but the real world is much hotter. In fact, in as little as a decade we are likely to see more than 1.5C temperature rise making the tropical zone uninhabitable, with wet bulb conditions — where the humidity and temperature are so high your sweat cannot cool you off — making it so that people will not even know that they are dying of heat exposure. Unfortunately, about 40% of the world’s population lives in the tropical zone. In 10 years’ time, climate migrants will number 2.8B. Unfortunately, the metaverse will be closed to those 2.8B people. It won’t be any cooler for the servers running the simulations.
Atticbee commented later that the question must be answered. If the metaverse is limited to trading game props or virtual real estates as NFTs then current technology could be adequate, provided that the volume of transactions remains low. However if Metaverse tries to simulate the real world, and uses blockchain as the trustable computing layer, RChain’s computing model is much closer to how the real universe works than the state machine used by virtually all other projects. Greg Meredith stated that the optimal concurrent computing model has been chosen by evolution, while the sequential Turing machines are never the preferred one.
The underlying blockchain technology as well as the metaverse at the top will both stimulate and develop each other. Just like in history – when we only had steam engines, we could only build trains and ships. Once we invented the combustion engine, cars, planes, and other machines were possible. Every tech breakthrough will open new doors for tomorrow’s world. With RChain’s concurrent computing, seamless sharding and on-chain storage, Metaverse will be reshaped by RChain’s breakthrough technology.
Click to Pay VS. Click to Play
When asked about RChain’s plan for ecosystem development, Greg answered that RChain focuses on a transaction volume driven route.RChain is looking at applications, such as self-sovereign data, online advertising and sponsorship, and social networks that generate large transaction volumes. It is easy to see the economic logic. Proof-of-work miners make millions every day. They would want to swap proof of stake validators. You will only reduce their profit margins if you decrease transaction costs. They can make 10X if they reduce transaction costs by 100 but increase transaction volume by 1,000. This will be at fraction of their energy consumption. This is a strong argument that they should move to proof of stake.
You can see the Internet to confirm that transaction volume determines the outcome. How many times do you click to pay versus click to “Play”? This is how often do you click “Play” to upload to Instagram, Twitter, or WeChat rather than to pay a bill? What number of times have you clicked to stream YouTube and Spotify, versus to send money to someone using PayPal, Venmo, or WeChat. It’s hundreds (if not thousands) to one. All the transaction volume is in click to “Play”.
Ads are everywhere. The largest industry in the world is online advertising. It’s bigger than oil. RChain aims to make it easy for people to click on DApps, such as streaming, video, logistics, and data services. It also wants to broadcast sponsored content via these decentralized services but in a way that eliminates surveillance capitalism. The company also desires that people have the right to control whether or not their data are sold, and to receive a share of any profits.
Migration From Other Public Chains’ Ecosystems to RChain
RChain’s sharding solution allows other chains to be mounted as shards. Smart contracts are now possible to be written with RChain resources, so other chains can also be mounted as shards. This is the case for the RChain-side. It’s very simple to migrate.
Migrating to RChain is difficult because of the inconsistency of the computational model. RChain runs concurrently with most of the other blockchains. This means other chains cannot handle RChain’s execution demands. As other chains process RChain executions requests, they will also queue up.
While going in the opposite direction is straightforward, it also means that RChain needs to be slower to maintain the same sequential semantics as the other chains.
To a leaderless global computer
RChain is in mainnet since just over 2 years. It released an important feature last year: The finalized state. This allows new validators to synchronize with the chain without needing to return to the genesis block. It is also releasing block merge this year, which gives linear scaling. It’s the culmination of Greg’s research of architecture and mathematics in the last 30 years, some of the work can go back to Microsoft’s BizTalk Process Orchestration that Greg worked on 20 years ago.
As Atticbee explained, there exists the following relationships btw “traditional computer” and the blockchain “global computer”:
- The Blockchain Computer is a Traditional Computer
- Multithreading is concurrency for block merge.
- Multiprocess – Sharding (composability).
- Firewall: On-chain formal verification (behavior system)
These 3 components are essential for any global computer to function properly. It is important to choose the right computational layer so that they can all be supported. That means it should have concurrency, composability, and a behavior type system.
Figure: Computational Model Comparisons
This leaves few options. Only Pi and Rho-Calculus are able to provide the necessary features. Rho-Calculus, an upgraded Pi-Calculus version. This version of Pi-Calculus has more expressive potential and allows reflection. It’s the first calculus process that can be used to create smart contracts. Greg Meredith, the creator of Rho-Calculus.
Figure: The Knowledge Graph for RChain
With the coming “block merge” milestone the multi-threading/concurrency capability will be demonstrated. After that RChain will have a “seamless” sharding solution that makes many shards “look and feel” like one. A behavior-type system, which allows thousands of contracts to cooperate safely with one another will be introduced in the Venus milestone. It will also be possible to create a layer of smart contract orchestration, such as a Kubernetes decentralized Kubernetes. These are not possible without carefully selecting a computational model. The platform will remain a payment system, and cannot be used as an infrastructure for computing that supports Web 3.0 at scale.
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