Oasis Network AMA Recap : Meet the Team
The Oasis Network “AMA Session” is a Q&A session, which happens virtually on the Oasis Network Community telegram group. This session has been designed to occasionally bring every community member up to speed on recent developments relating to the Oasis project, and also create an avenue where every member’s questions and doubts, could be addressed.
On June 2nd 2021, Oasis Protocol, conducted an AMA session on their community telegram group. Jernej Kos, Director of the Oasis Foundation and Tadej Janež, Lead Engineer at Oasis, were live at this online AMA Session to provide community members with insights on how they got started in Blockchain, provide update on the recent mainnet upgrade and the upcoming Engineering Roadmap.
In order to ensure clarity to my readers, this article has been divided into two segments; the first segment, provides full account of questions asked by the moderator of this AMA session, Jon Poole (highlighted in bold letters), while the second segment provides account of the questions asked by the community members during the session.
SEGMENT 1: Interview with AMA Moderator
Jon Poole — Alright let’s get started! Can you both introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about how you got started in blockchain?
Jernej Kos — Hello all! I’m Jernej, the Director of the Oasis Protocol Foundation and Technical Lead on core Oasis technologies. Before doing any dev work in the blockchain space I was actually interested in technologies which enable establishment of decentralized communities — think wireless mesh networks and scalable p2p routing secured by the social graph topology (and did a PhD on it during my times at the University).
My belief was that we need to take back control of our network infrastructure before it gets totally taken over by big centralized entities. This is why the idea of blockchain networks and the Oasis network specifically, a decentralized network that enables privacy of arbitrary computataion, appealed to me. In this sense, Oasis was the primary reason why I started working in the blockchain space in the first place :)
Tadej Janež — Hey all! I’m a husband and a father of 3, hacker by heart, passionate about programming, security and recently, blockchain.
My background is in computer science and mathematics. I did my PhD in machine learning. Otherwise, I’ve been a Linux and free/open source software enthusiast for 2 decades now, seasoned Pythonista, and more recently a Gopher.
My first encounter with blockchain was actually via the Linux Format magazine. They ran the What on Earth is …? series and in Sep 2011, Bitcoin was presented. After I read it, I said to myself, this is never going to work.
And then the 2017 excitement got me to reconsider Bitcoin and blockchain in general. And from then on it was only upwards.
Jon Poole — When did you realize you wanted to be a full time blockchain developer? What attracted you to the Oasis Network?
Jernej Kos — This actually happened quite naturally for me, starting as “just a developer” it started as a research project at Berkeley and quickly grew beyond that! I developed a large chunk of the Oasis Core implementation and one part is definitely being on the edge of interesting technology and implementing that in practice to benefit the people. But all of this would not be possible without a great team and the wider open source community — I believe that this is what is truly important when choosing what to dedicate your time to.
Tadej Janež — Oasis attracted me because it stood out among other projects (remember ICO hype in 2017 ?) by combining blockchain’s decentralization and audibility with the promise of bringing much needed scalability and confidentiality.
The other thing was the team behind it. Dawn’s leadership and previous experience in computer security, cryptography and machine learning on one hand and a superb team of very talented engineers on the other hand made the difference.
Regarding being a full time blockchain developer, well, it is actually not much different that being a full time developer. But you get to enjoy working in the most disrupting field in the world and a possibility to make real impact, globally.
Jon Poole — What is your favorite part about working with the Oasis Protocol Foundation? Who on our team are you most proud of working alongside?
Jernej Kos — My favorite part is definitely collaborating on solving a wide range of interesting technical problems that will enable confidential applications to bring back control and ownership of private data into the hands of the people. I’m proud of everyone on our team as each member brings their own unique perspective and thoughts ;)
Tadej Janež — My favorite part is having the freedom to choose which aspects of the Oasis Ecosystem I want to work on and improve, step by step, day by day. And the opportunity to work on very diverse problems, from coding on consensus layer components to coordinating development and deployment of a new app in the Oasis ecosystem.
I guess I must mention Jernej since he’s here with me on this AMA . Just kidding . He’s a great teammate, manager and a friend. There’s Peter Us, a real coding wizard and jack of all trades, Jon Poole, “always on”, ready to brainstorm ideas or talk random crypto horror stories, Ekin, Bori, Gina, Myra, Jorge, all superb teammates! And not to forget all the folks on the Labs’ side, Anne, Peter Gilbert, Linda, Warren, Nick, Andrew, Visha, … amazing people!
Jon Poole — Thank you, for sharing a little bit about yourselves. Having a globally remote team where the majority of our meetings are all work related, it’s nice to discover a little more about the people you work with and share it with our amazing community.
Let’s begin talking about the Oasis Network and our most recent major upgrade: Cobalt! What is your top feature you’re most proud of for this upgrade?
Jernej Kos — All the features that went into Cobalt are directed towards the same goal — making ParaTimes more powerful and secure. Having a secure and unbiased random beacon is very important for the security of committee elections and for more high-level apps like unbiased lotteries.
But the feature that makes ParaTimes much more powerful is definitely support for “messages” where actions (like token transfers, delegations or parameter updates) can happen in the consensus layer on a ParaTime’s behalf. This makes ParaTimes first class citizens of teh Oasis ecosystem and enables use of ROSE in higher-level applications within the ParaTimes
Tadej Janež — From the top of my head, I would say the on-chain governance and having the ability to have ROSE in the ParaTimes (both, transfers and staking are possible!).
The on-chain governance is something that will engage our community even more and is the next step towards more collaboration and decentralization. We want to extend this part in the future to enable community to propose changes to network’s parameters and propose different upgrades.
Enabling ROSE in our ParaTimes is an obvious thing but it was not straight-forward to implement before the Cobalt upgrade. I guess I don’t need to explain whey ROSE in ParaTimes is very useful and very needed 🙂.
Jon Poole — If you could sum up what Cobalt means to you as a Developer and what Oasis SDK means to the Blockchain community as a whole, what would it be? What message would you want heard?
Tadej Janež — If I can use the Lego analogy, I would say that our Mainnet release in Nov 2020 is like the green baseplate. It is a stable foundation with clearly laid studs (bumps) where people can build on. Then the Cobalt upgrade and the Oasis SDK are the actual bricks developers can use to develop their applications and protocols on top of the network.
Jernej Kos — Right, so reading through the Cobalt feature list may seem like a set of low-level features and it may not be immediately apparent why these were needed at all. But this set of features is what enables the more high-level functionality that the Oasis SDK will provide and that will make building ParaTimes very simple.
The core idea is that as a developer wanting to deploy a new “blockchain”/ParaTime you don’t need to worry about things like consensus, p2p messaging, how to get a secure validator set etc. but instead you would be able to just compose ParaTime SDK modules together into a Paratime, reuse the Oasis Network as the consensus layer and also leverage the confidentiality features present in the SDK
Jon Poole — This is such a great analogy. I mentioned the Oasis SDK which is a great chance for me to move into discussing our upcoming roadmap. Would you mind highlighting some of the upcoming events that you’re excited about? Oasis Roadmap
Jernej Kos — For me the most exciting milestones are the release of the first version of the Oasis SDK and the successful deployment of the first ParaTime actually built using the SDK, the Cipher ParaTime, which will enable confidential smart contracts and interoperability with other networks (first up is the bridge to Ethereum).
Tadej Janež — To expand on what Jernej said, I’m also super excited about the upcoming official Oasis Wallets, both the web wallet developed by Tristan Fourier and the Chrome extension wallet developed by Bit Cat. I know the community has been asking for an official option since basically the Mainnet launch and I’m excited that people will soon have not one but two official Oasis wallets to choose from.
But this is just the start. The Cipher ParaTime will feature the Ethereum bridge and once Wasm-based confidentical smart contracts are available, we’ll soon have the first Private DEX!
Jon Poole — A few community members were able to get a sneak preview at the Cipher ParaTime blog post last night. Would you mind giving me a little backstory to why the name “Cipher ParaTime”? What does it mean to you?
Tadej Janež — He he. I don’t recall the exact details, but I know we’ve been trying to come up with an exciting name for the first official Oasis ParaTime for a while. And then there was a casual brainstorming via Slack where we joked about naming it “Enigma” or some other famous Cipher machine. And a couple of minutes later, someone, I think it was Jon actually, asked if we should simply call it “Cipher”.
Jernej Kos — Yeah, initially we were calling it the “Unnamed Oasis Protocol Foundation ParaTime” which didn’t sound so cool. Cipher ties in nicely with confidentiality through encryption which is what the Cipher ParaTime will enable.
Jon Poole — Would you highlight the importance of IBC Support and what it means for the Oasis Ecosystem?
Jernej Kos — The Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol is one of the protocols that enable interoperability between different blockchain networks. The idea is to implement it as a module in the Oasis SDK which will enable ParaTimes (and consequently smart contracts running within them) to securely exchange messages (which also includes assets and a host of other things) with other networks that also implement IBC. This will allow applications on other networks to easily leverage the confidentiality properties of Oasis ParaTimes.
Jon Poole — Without breaching any confidentiality agreements, what are you most excited for about the future of the Oasis Network?
Jernej Kos — I strongly believe that scalable privacy of general computation will enable a host of new use cases in data marketplaces, private DeFi and beyond and I am really excited to see all these efforts become a reality!
Tadej Janež — He he. I would say the amazing team, amazing node operator and ambassador communities that are able to really innovate and bring confidentiality and privacy to the fore.
Jon Poole — Data marketplaces are going to be revolutionary! We enjoyed an incredible demo this morning from Castalise and I can’t wait to bring our community into a joint event with them. Shout out to our Ambassador Team!
Thank you, Jernej Kos and Tadej Janež for taking the time to speak with us this morning and sharing not only your expertise and knowledge on Blockchain but giving us a little insight into what makes you such amazing team members!
SEGMENT 2: Community Questions
Community Question 1 — In the roadmap you have mentioned about partnering with new blockchain projects. Can you tell us about your new partners and what are the benefits of this partnership?
Jon Poole — I can only speak about the announced partnerships but I can say that we hired a new BD member for the foundation a little over a month ago and it’s been an amazing addition to the team. We’re firing on all cylinders rekindling previous partnerships now that we are technically ready for them to begin their work and also adding into the pipeline for the next phase of growth!
Community Question 2— Oasis is partnered with other projects like chainlink and shyft. Can you elaborate on how you see these partnerships going. Like how does a shyft integration work?
Jon Poole — Shyft will allow decentralized applications using Oasis Network to create whitelisted addresses, i.e., a whitelist of items/IP addresses that are granted access to a certain system or protocol, and Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) and GDPR compliant systems, that help comply with AML regulation while protecting user’s personal-identifiable information.
The Shyft partnership is still in the early phases. We expect them to begin further integration once the Cipher ParaTime is complete and deployed to Mainnet. Chainlink is our preferred Oracle provider. They will also begin integration once the Cipher ParaTime is complete.
Oasis Labs is also looking to potentially integrate Chainlink into their Data Tokenization product once that developers further. So more on that coming soon.
Community Question 3 — What can the community do, or take part in, to really grow the Oasis platform in total? For example, is there any kind of “unofficial requests list” where the team, developers, ambassadors, etc. can post “informal” tasks and the community can come together to try and get these tasks completed?
Tadej Janež — That’s a great question. We have a GitHub project that is simply named Community, where we want to encourage everyone to take part and propose things to work on.
One great example that is a fruit of this collaboration is the Tristan’s web wallet which happened through. More Info
Community Question 4— Can you elaborate on the distinction between TEEs as used in Oasis ParaTimes, and TEEs as used in DONs i.e. Chainlinks DECO/Town Crier?
Jernej Kos — You should think of Oasis ParaTimes kind of like independent blockchains (e.g. each with its own state transition function) but sharing a common consensus layer. And TEEs can be used both for integrity to some extent (e.g. reducing the replication factor and thus the overhead) and confidentiality (e.g., to protect both transaction data and persistent state of the paratime). In the Oasis architecture all of these aspects are configurable — a ParaTime can decide whether it wants to run in a TEE or not (and which kind of TEE), whether to be confidential or not, the replication factor etc.
Community Question 5— Also, with cobalt upgrade which introduces on chain governance function for community based growth, are there any works on DAO incentivization schedule, or any decision on how/which voting system will be implemented?
Tadej Janež — We are thinking about extending block explorers with better insights into what were the on-chain proposals, what was the voter activity, turnout, amount of ROSE voted (something similar to Cosmos Scan).
And implementing something like https://github.com/cosmos/governance.
Community Question 6— I really like the idea behind the IBC. However have other methods been considered (besides Polkadot bridges like Darwinia) to connect other blockchains like AVAX, EGLD or ADA should the IBC not live up to its expectations?
Jernej Kos — Right, there’s lots of various interoperability protocols being proposed and since ParaTimes support general state transition functions any one of those could be implemented as a module in the SDK for the ParaTimes to use.
We are currently prioritizing the Ethereum bridge then inter-ParaTime communication which can use a simplified protocol due to the shared consensus layer and IBC due to our consensus layer using Tendermint and the IBC implementations already supporting it. But as I said, there is no reason why we couldn’t support any other interoperability standard if there’s a lot of support from other networks.
Community Question 7— No doubt privacy and DeFi are important to Oasis but the markets is becoming more demanding, can Oasis create and apply new forms of Gamification that will encourage more users to buy and hold the $ROSE token for longer? Is there a plan for this from the core team? Or is there already a ParaTime working on it? This would be good for $ROSE in the markets.
Tadej Janež — With the Cobalt upgrade we’ve actually enabled ParaTimes to stake/delegate. And you can imagine building a ParaTime where one can get wROSE which can be traded and have the real ROSE staked at the consensus layer. We are actually discussing this ability with a few prominent projects.
Community Question 8— Paratimes cross communication will it be atomic?
Jernej Kos — Yes, but not for free as there is some more communication involved if you want to ensure atomicity so it will be more expensive than regular calls within a ParaTime.
Community Question 9— I really liked the initiative from the team to develop an in-house ROSE wallet, however is something also being to have an in-house KYC / identification dApp? We currently use a third party for KYC verification.
Tadej Janež — This is definitely something that could be very useful. And with the recent Parcel SDK advancements, I think it should be quite easily achievable. If someone is willing to work on that, ping us or apply for a grant.
Community Question 10— NFT has been a hot topic since last year. With the launch of the Cipher ParaTime how NFT projects can use Cipher’s confidentiality and why?
Tadej Janež, — Thanks for your NFT questions. So, yeah, only a small fraction of the value of non-fungible tokens are being captured with current solutions, and we at Oasis believe that privacy-preserving smart contracts enabled by the Oasis Network can vastly expand the design space and potential for NFTs. Privacy preserving NFTs have a couple of major attributes that set them apart from non-privacy enabled ones.
- Private metadata — Having private metadata doesn’t mean you don’t have the public metadata. Rather, you have the added benefit of being able to include additional sensitive data that needs to remain private. Or an NFT creator can create unlockable versions of NFTs that only reveal private information once purchased or accessed through special means.
- Private ownership — As NFTs can normally be viewed publicly on the blockchain, this poses a problem for token owners who wish to have their assets remain private — much like many physical assets you might own. Privacy enabled NFTs solve this problem by allowing programmable privacy within the tokens.
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