Summary of Blockchain Decalogue 10 talks

blockchain-decalogue

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Blockchain Decalogue

Talks list

  • Talk 1: Elliptic curve and what was achieved before blockchain
  • Talk 2: The blockchain promise
  • Talk 3: Why the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 – a Merkle Tree enlightenment.
  • Talk 4: attestations – go paperless, this time, for real
  • Talk 5: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” – a hash-based contract inauguration
  • Talk 6: Proof without a proof – a zero-knowledge proof inauguration
  • Talk 7: Encryption technology: a Diffie–Hellman key exchange primer
  • (alternative) Talk 7: Self-sovereign identity
  • Talk 8: Smart contract security
  • Talk 9: Consensus
  • Talk 10: Blockchain is not there to help you win – it is there to change the game you are playing

Talks Summary

Opening topic: The things which only blockchain can do.
We will open the conversation by examining the fundamental difference of blockchain and prior
technologies.
The blockchain detractors would say nonchalantly: "in the past, the ledger is kept centralised, now it is decentralised, what's the big deal."
It is a very big deal. We will examine many scenarios that simply wouldn't be accomplished if the ledger is kept centralised.

Talk 1: Elliptic curve and what was achieved before blockchain
Ask yourself, which of the following are unique to blockchain?
a) Non-repudiation (undeniable proof); b) authenticity (only the owner can move the money. c) data
immutability (data can be verified against changes).
The answer is none of them. Before blockchain was invented, all these had been achieved by
cryptography technologies like Elliptic Curve Cryptography, which is the foundation of today's
blockchain. To bask in the glory of Jesus we must first be baptised by John the forerunner. Without
knowing cryptography we can't know blockchain.

Talk 2: The blockchain promise
Blockchain provides a few guarantees on top of the existing cryptography, by blending in most innovative works of distributed computation and game theory. Its features can be shortened into "trusted 3rd party", but that trust is finely defined - for example, the trust does not imply confidentiality.
We will reveal what is really unique to blockchain technology in fine details.
We will also put the blockchain technologies we learned into the context of financial market instruments (financial intermediaries) and see how blockchain have the potential to reshape how financial market works.

Talk 3: Why the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42 - a Merkle Tree enlightenment.
The lecturer will show you how to do the calculation with a chalk and a blackboard. This lecture reveals how we can store an unlimited number of proofs in 256 bits of data with the use of Merkle Tree, in the similar fashion that the entire truth of the universe can be condensed in a scaler, namely 42. We will also briefly cover blockchain's use in provenance as an example. This knowledge is the foundation for understanding blockchain-based technologies like Plasma and attestation.

Talk 4: attestations - go paperless, this time, for real
Paperless office automation is the promise that was never realised. It's easy to put the paper process to the computers, but it is impossible to extend the trust boundaries between computer systems to the point that paper is not needed. In Singapore, all hospitals are equipped with hospital information management systems, so why do we still need to have prescriptions, medical leave certificates and invoices for insurance claims? The answer is that the systems can't be connected as they imply different trust context.
Too many human hours have been wasted sorting out the piles of paper proofs. Blockchain attestations can put an end to this.

Talk 5: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" - a hash-based contract inauguration
It is possible, as Vitalik elucidated, to have a network of millions of transactions not on the blockchain, whose correct execution depends on a few transactions on the blockchain as long as they happen in a group and the outsider doesn't need to learn about what's in the group (except that it is correctly executed). The solution is through the uses of hash and a handful of commit/open schemes. In this talk, we will reveal the basic mechanics of such transactions.

Talk 6: Proof without a proof - a zero-knowledge proof inauguration
This is the first talk that focuses on privacy. Zero-knowledge proof is the art of giving a proof without
leaving a trace. It can be considered most "powerful" privacy technology that became prominent by the use of blockchain, but not the most adaptable. In this talk, the lecturer will explain zero-knowledge proof on the original level (not connected to the blockchain) and we will demonstrate how to do a simple zero-knowledge proof - an interactive identity proof, and observe how a prover proves without leaving a trace of proof.

Talk 7: Encryption technology: a Diffie–Hellman key exchange primer
All data on the blockchain is public. This time we talk about how to hide data in the light. We dive into the area of encrypted communication and how that can be related to blockchain technology. We will utilise knowledge we learned previously about attestation, elliptic curve cryptography.

(alternative) Talk 7: Self-sovereign identity
[This alternative is used if the students are not up to the level on cryptography or is more curious of its use] As we get ourselves familiar with both blockchain and encryption (by now you would have learned that they are not related at the outset), we finally can start talking about "owning your identity" and what it means to us. This is one of the moment we realise that the more we learned, the more questions we have. There currently lacks a good self-sovereign identity technology. Come to hear why you should not buy the identity ICO tokens yet.

Talk 8: Smart contract security
Smart contracts can be hacked, and they will keep being hacked for the coming years. We examine how the latest security technologies can be applied to amend smart contract security, with two focuses: a new smart contract design paradigm and a new blockchain design paradigm.

Talk 9: Consensus
Takamoto Consensus laid the foundation of the blockchain.
The topic of consensus algorithm has been an area of research for a long time, and, since the advance of Amazon AWS, intensively pursued.
Of all the consensus algorithms, Takamoto Consensus is the slowest. No wonder we have a horde of new contenders claiming to be 10 times, 100 times or million times faster. One can simply flip a page or two from the quaint books of Professor Lamport 30 years ago and any one of the consensus algorithms there will outperform Takamoto Consensus. There you go, your next ICO project!
We will reveal what is fundamentally special about Takamoto Consensus and how it unified the world as the least efficient protocol. We will also introduce how to walk a few steps further on the path Satoshi laid out for us, and not be lead astray by the fashionable flattering suitors.

Talk 10: Blockchain is not there to help you win - it is there to change
the game you are playing The typical innovation starts with the question: how can we solve this or that problem. We felt cold sitting on the toilet, that’s a problem. So we have electric heated toilets, that’s the solution. So it is easy to understand why bankers, when facing Bitcoin, asked “what problem does it solve for us?”
and, not having checked any of the checklists, walked away. If Satoshi walked to a VC firm and showed the Blockchain idea, an LP will ask: “who are your customers and what is your value proposition to them?” - the conversation ends there.
Why did the problem-solving mentality stop working? We will examine the real problems Bitcoin and
blockchain can solve, and they are a lot bigger than warming your butt. It goes directly to the essence of what is money and how is our economy made working by it. Most of us just don’t have the imagination to think beyond our warm butts.