Prominent figures on interoperability spoke at a panel discussion at Consensus yesterday. The panel comprised of 4 members, namely, Matthew Spoke, the Founder of Aion network, David Schwartz, the Chief Cryptographer at Ripple Inc, Jutta Steiner, the Co-Founder of Parity Technologies, and Charlie Lee, the Creator of Litecoin.
The panel was titled ‘The race for interoperability’. It began with the exploration of whether interoperability could reduce the tribalist behaviors exhibited by investors in cryptocurrency. The panel members spoke about how they explored interoperability and got started with creating products that could realize their vision of interoperability.
Matthew Spoke talked about how he founded the Aion Network and how it was aimed at interoperability with the Ethereum Virtual Machine. According to the website, Aion is an “A multi-tier system designed to address unsolved questions of scalability, and interoperability in blockchain networks.”
He is an advocate of decentralized interoperability, due to data privacy and ownership concerns and the removal of trust-based centralized power structures. His solution for this is to create a sort of router for interoperability, which can recognize transactions and route them to the required blockchains.
He spoke about how interoperability is a part of “re-architecting the future of the Internet” and said:
“Interoperability is a layer within a massive infrastructure of the decentralized internet”.
He also went on to talk about how use cases must be unified through interoperability by decreasing the separation of different systems that operate on distinct blockchains. A system must be realized wherein transactions on one network would trigger transactions on another ledger, he explained.
“The future we hope to build is where these use cases are not segregated and isolated.”
He advocated for the decentralization of security models, going so far as to suggest that “multiple forms of security models, consensus algorithms and execution environments” should be created so as to protect against security flaws in the future. He also brings up the possibility of moving businesses and logics between blockchains in case of a major security flaw, and how interoperability must allow for this to occur. In this way, interoperability takes away the risk of building solutions for the future.
David Schwartz of Ripple had some interesting things to say about interoperability, considering how he worked closely with the creator of the InterLedger protocol, Stefan Tomas. He spoke about how the cryptocurrency space replicated the problem of interoperating between “silos”, which are pools of liquidity that are stored in a single place such as the Bitcoin blockchain.
The connection of digital assets to fiat currencies was done through Ripple’s product known as xRapid, which allows for cross-border transactions using XRP as the bridge currency.
Schwartz spoke about how reduced requirements from interoperability protocols allowed for easier adoption, talking about arguably the most widely-used interoperability protocol today, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. It does not have a large number of requirements to be implemented, allowing for wider adoption. This, in turn, will also allow for growth in the future, as the pre-established requirements are skeletal and hence scalable.
Schwartz predicted the future of interoperability protocols being interoperable, adding an additional level of interoperability to the mix. He also spoke about how trust distribution must be prioritized, saying:
“If you could design a system that doesn’t require any additional trust to meet all those security requirements, that’s kinda when we got it.”
When asked about his vision for the future of interoperability, he said:
“In the short term you’re going to see an improvement of existing experiences.”
He went on to say that on the medium-term level, interoperability will transform into an email like payment system, with a universal payment ID. He also mentioned that the long-term vision was hazy due to the change in use-case scenarios for the technology.
Jutta Steiner, the Co-founder of Parity Technologies, is exploring the interoperability space through a project known as Polkadot. Polkadot is a “heterogeneous multi‑chain technology” that uses parachains to conduct and verify transactions. It is also involved in governance protocols. It also began as a project on the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
Her vision for the future involves using shared resources through the Polkadot network. She spoke about how regulation stifles innovation by its presence, as small-scale companies find it difficult to handle the legal fees required for advice in regulatory fields.
She aims to build a decentralized system to give data back to the users and reduces the differences between service providers and customers.
Charlie Lee, the creator of the cryptocurrency Litecoin, spoke about his vision for a concept known as an atomic swap. An atomic swap is a technology that functions on smart contracts. It enables the exchange of one cryptocurrency for another without using centralized intermediaries, such as exchange platforms. He believes that this is one of the major problems that interoperability protocols have to tackle.
He spoke about his vision for use cases of interoperability in the future, saying:
“…in the future, we have different people using different payment methods and they all interoperate”
He also spoke about how interoperability increases the attack surface. He also mentioned that the most complicated part of creating a usable interoperability protocol is the user interface and user experience, as the users of today’s digital assets have a basic knowledge of the functioning of the backend. He stresses that ease of experience is the cue for adoption, citing the ease of use of existing systems such as credit cards.
“With interoperability, the hard part is to make it simple for the user experience.”
Internet users reacted to the panel discussion. User Reflections Observer observed:
“Ripple’s technologies will replace them all… I mean their functions 🙂 David is way too modest.”
Felix J Romero said:
“The more secure our unchangeables are revealed as having always been, the more freely we’ll adapt to change. Great talk! Lots to discuss in response to this conversation.”