Blockchain Workshop Position Statement

Author: Rick Dudley (Eris Industries)


I have been granted a patent in what people now call provably fair gaming. I started working on the technology described in the patent in February 2006. That research was prompted by my interests in “cheating”, trust, gaming, and cryptography. I have been following bitcoin since the paper was published. I became particularly interested in smart contracts after hearing a talk given by Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood in November 2014. Because of my existing understanding of Cassandra, Paxos and Spanner, I was extremely skeptical of their claims, I did not see how an arbitrary global internet network topography could achieve the performance required (It’s fair to say I am still skeptical). Since then have been working on various concepts related to implementing provably fair gaming on Ethereum, in particular Random Number Oracles, Reveal services, state channels and Etherpoker. In addition to this I have become active in the development of various Byzantine Fault Tolerant Consensus Systems. Of note, I have been helping Vlad Zamfir and Greg Meredith reason about Casper as a game. I currently work at Eris Industries, where I am primarily concerned with practical details of deploying federated blockchains.

Topics of Interest

For me an ideal future is a world where users have ultimate control over their personal data and there is a complete elimination of data silos. Instead of data silos, those who wish to consume personal data will need to directly form business relationships with those individuals who have control over that data. There are a number of technical goals I believe are required to achieve this end:

  1. Better blockchain key management (rotation, revocation, open source hardware storage)
  2. An integration of wallets into browsers.
  3. A mapping of blockchain public keys to x.509 Certificates (and other related systems in production today)
  4. Name services within blockchains
  5. Blockchain integration with existing name services (like DNSsec)
  6. Cross blockchain interactions (shared identities, 2­way pegs, etc)
  7. Support for SQL semantics when querying blockchains (which is ever so slightly off­topic)
  8. The application of Linked Data methodologies to blockchains.

Further Topics

I am also interested in the idea that blockchains allow for a strong attribution layer to be added to the internet. But in providing this, we must be sure to create a space and a means for weakly attributed identities to exist; such identities are necessary in maintaining personal secrecy.

Working with Vlad has also helped to amplify my belief that with blockchain systems multiple forms of ethical censorship resistance are a technically challenging hard requirement.

We should also consider the ethical consequences and social ramifications of truly censorship resistant networks. I also believe that true censorship resistance will require a deep investigation of existing anonymity tools (tor, i2p, etc), radio based networks, and network topographies (how do we assert a network is decentralized, etc).

In a similar vein, I am also interested in what sort of ASICs can be created to facilitate IoT devices participating in Proof­-of-­Stake networks. Is it possible to have secure signing on sub­dollar devices? If not, how do we assert information collected from such device is accurate?

Leading Discussions

I don’t feel particularly expert in any given field or area. I have been told I am opinionated, but I always attempt to ground my opinions in Truth (or whatever approximation is available). I am always interested in having deep technical discussions regarding any of the topics I have mentioned above and would be happy to lead any number of discussions.