HK Legislative Council Member Advocates for Integrating Senior Economy with Web3

Hong Kong Legislative Council member and CPPCC member Johnny Ng, known as @Johnny_nkc on Twitter, attended the “2023 World Internet Conference” in Wuzhen, where he delivered a keynote speech on digital literacy and skills enhancement. Ng’s speech, dated 9th November 2023, focused on two main themes: the integration of the senior economy with the internet, and the role of Web3 technology in empowering content creators.

The Senior Economy and Internet Synergy

Johnny Ng highlighted the case of “Pan Lao Lao,” a senior internet celebrity with over 23 million followers, who uses the internet to stimulate rural revitalization and the senior economy. By creatively showcasing rural scenery and cuisine through short videos, she not only boosts local economic activities but also demonstrates the potential of seniors in leveraging their experience for economic benefit. This model is pertinent for Hong Kong, where discussions about the senior economy are gaining traction. Ng suggested that Hong Kong could learn from mainland China’s success in integrating the internet with the senior economy to foster industry growth in Chinese-speaking markets.

Web3’s Impact on Content Creators’ Earnings

In his speech, Ng mentioned recent developments in Web3 in Hong Kong. He emphasized that a key aspect of Web3 is blockchain technology’s decentralization feature. For content creators, this means the ability to bypass centralized platforms, directly monetizing their work through a decentralized model. This approach not only empowers creators financially but also serves as a practical application of Web3 technology in real-world scenarios.

Ng concluded by stressing the importance of merging technology with everyday life and the physical economy to drive societal progress. His insights at the conference underline the growing significance of the internet in the senior economy and the potential of Web3 technologies in reshaping content creation and distribution.

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NEAR and Polygon Partner to Launch zkWASM

The NEAR Foundation and Polygon Labs have announced a collaborative effort to develop a zero-knowledge (ZK) prover for Web Assembly (WASM) blockchains. This initiative, termed “zkWASM,” is poised to bridge the gap between WASM-based chains and the Ethereum ecosystem, as revealed in a joint announcement on November 8, 2023.

zkWASM stands as a revolutionary prover in the realm of blockchain technology. It aims to enable WASM-based networks to integrate seamlessly into the Polygon ecosystem, marking their first-ever participation. The primary motivation behind the creation of WASM, a binary instruction format, was web browsers. However, its utility has expanded to potentially serve as a compute engine for blockchain networks, offering an alternative to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

The integration of zkWASM into Polygon’s Chain Development Kit (CDK) is a pivotal aspect of this collaboration. The CDK empowers developers with tools to create customized blockchain networks based on their specific needs. With the inclusion of zkWASM, developers will gain the capability to design WASM networks and incorporate them into the broader Polygon ecosystem, which includes the Ethereum mainnet itself.

This partnership signifies a major step for NEAR in its integration with the Ethereum network. Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of NEAR Protocol, emphasized that “NEAR is integrating more with Ethereum by innovating in new research frontiers, and the shared expertise of NEAR and Polygon will expand the ZK landscape and defragment liquidity across chains.” This approach is expected to improve liquidity for users and enhance the overall efficiency of the NEAR network.

One of the most significant advantages of the zkWASM prover is its impact on NEAR validators. By employing the zero-knowledge proof method, the computational overhead involved in confirming a shard is significantly reduced. This reduction in computational demand is projected to lead to “better scalability and increased decentralization” for the NEAR network, according to the joint statement.

Polygon is concurrently working on developing a multichain ecosystem, known as “Polygon 2.0.” This new system will feature bridges operating on zero-knowledge proof-based transition mechanisms, facilitating the transfer of assets across different chains.

The development and expected launch of zkWASM next year marks a significant leap towards creating a more secure, interoperable, and scalable Web3 ecosystem. This partnership between NEAR and Polygon exemplifies the collaborative spirit in the blockchain community, driving innovation and integration across different platforms and technologies.

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Helium’s HNT Token Lists on SwissBorg

The Helium Foundation, a trade association under the 501(c)(6) designation focused on promoting decentralized wireless access, announced the listing of its HNT token on SwissBorg, a notable cryptocurrency platform in Europe. The announcement, dated November 2, 2023, signifies a crucial step towards increasing the accessibility and expansion of the Helium Network.

SwissBorg, established in 2017, has grown to become a trusted platform for over 700,000 verified users to trade digital assets, access yield products, and early investment deals. On the other hand, The Helium Foundation, as a not-for-profit organization, dedicates itself to enhancing secure and cost-effective wireless coverage globally, acting as the steward of the Helium Network, the world’s largest decentralized wireless network.

Established in 2019, the Helium Network has been on a mission to provide a decentralized, secure, and open-source wireless network. With hundreds of thousands of hotspots, the network has found utilization globally across various sectors including businesses, governments, and municipalities. The integration into SwissBorg presents a significant milestone as it stands to extend the network’s reach to SwissBorg’s user base of over 700,000, beyond its current community, thereby augmenting its global footprint.

The synergy between SwissBorg and Helium emanates from a shared vision of decentralization and accessibility. Anthony Lesoismier, the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of SwissBorg, highlighted this alignment in values as a key factor for the listing. He also mentioned the recent integration of Orca and Phoenix DEXs into the SwissBorg Smart Engine, which marked a significant milestone for SwissBorg, allowing its community to seamlessly transition from off to on-chain operations. The listing of HNT token is seen as a further testament to this integration, facilitating real-world connections by merging off and on-chain activities.

SwissBorg’s mission aligns with that of Helium, aiming to democratize wealth management while making crypto asset management accessible to all. The listing of the HNT token on SwissBorg’s platform, as noted by Abhay Kumar, the CEO of the Helium Foundation, not only opens up the Helium Network to a larger user base but also adds to its growing global presence. The network’s recent collaborations include partnerships with Helotics, creating bear-proof waste containers in Hrebienok National Park, and Seeed Studios, which designed a compact LoRaWAN SenseCAP T1000 Tracker equipped with GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi to help secure important assets.

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Scroll Launches zkEVM Mainnet

On October 17, 2023, Scroll, an open-source, community-centric Ethereum scaling solution, unveiled its mainnet, marking a pivotal stride towards augmenting scalability and propelling developer adoption on the Ethereum blockchain. This comes after two years of extensive development and stringent testing, utilizing zero knowledge (zk) proofs to offload computation from the primary blockchain, thereby addressing the challenges of rising network traffic and costs on Ethereum due to its burgeoning user and project base.

Scalability Unleashed

Employing zk proofs, Scroll has innovated a mechanism that significantly boosts transaction throughput, by expediting transaction processes and slashing costs, heralding a new chapter in Ethereum’s scalability. The proprietary bytecode-level Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compatible zkEVM, delivers a near-identical user experience to Ethereum, enabling developers to effortlessly migrate their existing Ethereum projects onto Scroll, with zero requisite modifications to the codebase. This exemplifies Scroll’s dedication to scaling Ethereum without sacrificing either security or decentralization.

Security and Community at the Forefront

Scroll’s co-founder, Haichen Shen, emphasized the paramount importance of security, mentioning a holistic approach towards it, backed by a robust internal security team and multiple audits, retaining its open-source ethos from its inception. Over a year of triumphant testnet runs preceded the mainnet launch, with the recent Sepolia testnet alone registering over 900,000 wallet addresses and six million transactions within a two-month span. The mainnet mirrors the Sepolia testnet operations, which will persist as a developmental staging ground.

Collaborative Endeavors and Future Aspirations

Scroll, since its establishment in 2021, has been nurturing an open-source, scalable ecosystem via its zkEVM, while preserving Ethereum’s reputed security features and the community’s decentralization ethos. In the forthcoming period, Scroll eyes the launch of a decentralized prover network and a decentralized sequencer, further advancing its commitment towards a decentralized framework. The project’s collaborative efforts with the Ethereum Foundation’s Privacy and Scaling Explorations (PSE) group have also been notable, contributing to nearly half of the PSE zkEVM codebase.

The mainnet launch is expected to initially cater to onboarding infrastructure providers, gradually extending to global developer communities, fostering the creation of Web3 products, and ushering more users into the Ethereum fold. Scroll’s mission aligns with the broader vision of major value transfers occurring on Ethereum’s Layer 2 solutions, driven by enhanced user and developer experiences.

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Celestia’s Core Values: Bridging Off-chain Governance with User-centric Network

Mustafa Al-Bassam, the trust-minimization engineer and co-founder of Celestia, elucidated the five cornerstone values governing the social layer of the Celestia network in a comprehensive post on 12th October 2023. These precepts are devised to bolster the trust-minimizing facet of the Celestia blockchain, ensuring a well-aligned community capable of consensus on protocol amendments.

The pivotal essence of Celestia’s social layer is the belief that off-chain governance supersedes token-holder governance. As Al-Bassam quoted David D. Clark of IETF, “We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code.” This framework postulates that no faction, regardless of size, can unilaterally alter or breach protocol rules. The canonical fork, along with the state transition function of Celestia’s blockchain, is fundamentally governed by its social and ecosystem layers, not by token voting or validators.

Celestia places users at the zenith of its network hierarchy. This approach negates the necessity for users to place trust in centralized endpoints or committees, which are often seen as breaches of decentralization and Web3 principles. In lieu, the Celestia community has been ardently developing and promoting the use of trust-minimized light nodes. These nodes empower users to independently verify the chain’s integrity employing data availability sampling techniques.

Embracing a positive-sum crypto ecosystem, Celestia’s community champions modularism over maximalism. The base layer of Celestia is crafted as a generalized data availability layer, maintaining neutrality towards all execution environments and applications built atop it. This stance prevents any undue favor towards a particular execution environment that might hamper experimentation with others.

Acknowledging itself as a public good, Celestia aims for economic sustainability by delivering high-grade blockspace at scale, targeting a user base in billions instead of fostering artificial resource scarcity. The pricing of resources is strategized to achieve economic sustainability without being excessively extractive.

A cardinal design decision of Celestia is the minimization of on-chain state, thereby architecting an overhead-reduced blockchain optimized for data availability. This setup excludes any enshrined on-chain smart contract environment for now. Anticipated network enhancements are directed towards preserving a minimal state machine, allowing rollups to validate Celestia’s canonical chain without the overheads of unrelated smart contract verifications, and concurrently reducing state bloat for both rollups and Celestia.

The elucidation of these values not only underscores the ethos driving Celestia but also fosters a conducive environment for user-centric and trust-minimized blockchain ecosystems.

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Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin Proposes Tweaks to Improve Decentralization and Reduce Consensus Overhead

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, has recently proposed a series of changes aimed at improving the network’s staking model. The primary objectives are to enhance decentralization and reduce the computational burden on the consensus layer. The proposal comes as Ethereum faces challenges related to centralization risks and the sheer number of signatures required for consensus. Buterin’s proposal could potentially revolutionize the way staking and consensus are approached on the Ethereum network, making it more accessible and efficient.

In the current Ethereum staking model, there are two types of participants: node operators and delegators. Node operators are responsible for running nodes and providing collateral, usually in the form of ETH. Delegators, on the other hand, contribute some amount of ETH but are not required to participate in any other way. This two-tiered staking model has been popularized by staking pools like Rocket Pool and Lido, which offer liquid staking tokens (LSTs). However, Buterin identifies two main issues with this system. First, there is a centralization risk in the mechanisms for choosing node operators, which are either not very decentralized or have other flaws. Second, the Ethereum Layer 1 verifies approximately 800,000 signatures per epoch, a number that could increase, thereby adding a significant computational load to the network.

To address these issues, Buterin suggests that delegators should have a more meaningful role in the network. He outlines two classes of solutions: delegate selection and consensus participation. In the delegate selection model, delegates could choose which node operators they want to support, thereby having a “weight” in the consensus. This would give them more power and make the network more decentralized. In the consensus participation model, delegators could be given a lighter role in the consensus process, which would act as a check on node operators. This would allow more people to participate in the network’s validation process without taking on the full responsibilities and risks of being a node operator.

Buterin also provides concrete implementation ideas for these solutions. One such idea is to allow each validator to specify two staking keys: a persistent staking key (P) and a quick staking key (Q). These keys could be used in various ways to improve the consensus mechanism and reduce the number of required signatures. For example, the protocol could require both the node and a randomly selected delegator to sign off for a message from a node to count.

In conclusion, Buterin’s proposal aims to achieve two main objectives. First, it seeks to empower those who do not have the resources or capability to solo-stake to participate meaningfully in the network. Second, it aims to reduce the number of signatures required for consensus to around 10,000, thus aiding decentralization and making it easier for more people to run a validating node. These changes could be implemented at different layers, including within staking pool protocols or as part of the Ethereum protocol itself, offering a flexible approach to improving the network’s staking model.

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Solana Co-founder Labels Ethereum ‘Bourgeois Digital Tyranny

In a fiery discourse on Twitter between 1st and 2nd October 2023, Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana Labs, robustly defended the accessibility and inclusivity of the Solana network, engaging in a series of tweets that delved into the philosophies underpinning various blockchain platforms.

Network Accessibility Debate

The debate ignited with a tweet from user @jebus911 on 1st October, drawing parallels between Solana (native token SOL) and the Democratic Party, criticizing both for purportedly lacking an understanding of value creation and harboring a desire for cheap solutions. In a retort, Yakovenko elucidated his stance later that day, juxtaposing Ethereum against Solana and critiquing Ethereum for representing what he termed as “bourgeois digital tyranny.” He advocated for a “stateless digital dominion” where the cost of state creation is negligible, heralding a truly decentralized network.

Criticism of Solana’s Node Operation Costs

The discussion intensified on 2nd October when user @RuzhyoX spotlighted the high costs associated with running nodes or validators on the Solana network, suggesting it inadvertently favors corporate entities over individual participants. Yakovenko rebutted, positing that anyone capable of building from source possesses the requisite skill set for a tech job, which would render running a node affordable. This exchange catalyzed further deliberations among the crypto community on Twitter.

Community Reactions

The debate wasn’t devoid of humor, with @AceofSolana querying if Yakovenko’s eloquent defense was generated by ChatGPT, prompting a whimsical response from Yakovenko, “If you have to ask, ngmi” (an acronym for “not gonna make it”).

Comparing Ethereum and Solana

Ethereum and Solana, both notable in the blockchain arena, exhibit diverging technical and philosophical ideologies. Ethereum, a foundational platform, is pivotal to the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Non-Fungible Token (NFT) spheres, albeit grappling with scalability and transaction fee hurdles. In contrast, Solana, renowned for its high throughput and economical transaction fees, harnesses a distinctive Proof of History (PoH) and Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, targeting scalable solutions for a myriad of applications without forsaking decentralization.

Their smart contract frameworks, albeit similar, diverge in consensus models for transaction validation, reflecting their distinct approaches toward harmonizing security, decentralization, and scalability, thereby offering a spectrum of choices for developers and enterprises in the blockchain ecosystem.

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Ethereum’s Layer 2s Break New Ground in Scalability

Ethereum has marked a commendable 22% upsurge in its value as of September 2023, surpassing many substantial smart contract blockchains, according to Will Ogden Moore‘s article on Grayscale blog. The escalation is significantly credited to the advent of Layer 2 solutions (L2s) which have been instrumental in bolstering Ethereum’s scalability, rendering the network 100 times more cost-effective for its users. The endorsement of this paradigm came with the launch of BASE, a Layer 2 blockchain on Ethereum by Coinbase in August 2023. This development not only accentuates the growing credence in the Ethereum ecosystem but also extends the dissemination of decentralized applications to over 100 million Coinbase users. Concurrently, leading Layer 2 blockchains on Ethereum, namely Optimism and Arbitrum, have overstepped large Layer 1 blockchains like Solana in Total Value Locked (TVL), inching Ethereum closer to becoming the predominant Layer 1 blockchain if this trajectory persists.

The essence of Layer 2s emanates from the burgeoning need to augment Ethereum’s scalability. The analogy of a congested highway necessitating express lanes mirrors Ethereum’s scenario that propelled the genesis of Layer 2s. As transaction volumes swell, the network grapples with the scarcity of block space and surging gas fees, which peaked at an average of $196 per transaction by May 2022. This surge not only impinged on the user experience due to high costs and time inefficiency but also positioned Ethereum (~14 transactions per second) far behind competitors like Solana, capable of handling up to eight thousand transactions per second.

Layer 2 solutions ameliorate Ethereum’s inherent issues by processing transactions from decentralized applications, batching them, and transmitting a condensed version back to the main network for settlement. This mechanism drastically trims fees, up to 100x less than on the main chain, enhancing the usability and transaction capacity of the Ethereum ecosystem while buttressing its network security. Additionally, the incremental activity on Layer 2s reciprocates value to Ethereum with every transaction fee shared between the L2 and Ethereum network, alongside a minuscule burn of the total ETH supply, enriching the ETH value.

August witnessed a pivotal development with Coinbase launching its Layer 2 scaling solution, BASE, on Ethereum, extending the reach of dApps built on BASE Layer 2 to over 110 million users in the Coinbase ecosystem. BASE’s launch has already shown a notable upturn, surpassing Ethereum and other Layer 2 competitors in daily transactions within a month, and further propelled by the viral growth of decentralized application While presently centralized, BASE has expressed a progressive decentralization roadmap, aligning with the broader vision of Ethereum’s Layer 2 scalability agenda.

The previous months have seen a consistent rise in the usage of Layer 2 scaling solutions, with the aggregate daily active addresses on Layer 2 outpacing leading Layer 1s. The TVL metric also reflects a burgeoning trust in Layer 2s like Arbitrum and Optimism, which have surpassed Ethereum’s Layer 1 competitors Solana and Avalanche. The launch of the ARB token in March 2023 further entrenched Arbitrum as a leading Layer 2, boasting a TVL of $1.69 billion, only behind Tron and Ethereum.

While Layer 2s are pioneering in scaling Ethereum, they are at nascent stages of decentralization, posing certain risks. The predominant model involves a single entity running a “sequencer” for processing and batching transactions on Layer 2s, which could potentially lead to adverse outcomes such as outage risks. However, the progressive decentralization plans shared by most Layer 2s aim to mitigate such risks over time.

Despite the general consensus of a crypto market downturn since 2022, Ethereum’s ecosystem is burgeoning, courtesy of the Layer 2 solutions. The Layer 2 paradigm not only validates Ethereum’s model but also propels value to ETH, attracting more users and developers. With BASE, Coinbase is potentially paving the path towards mainstream adoption of Ethereum-based decentralized applications. The collective advancements in Layer 2s, despite the inherent centralization risks, are deemed to foster competition and innovation, positioning Ethereum to further cement its dominance in the smart contract blockchain realm.

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Blockchain Technology Powers Brazil’s National Identity Card Issuance

Brazil initiates the use of blockchain technology in issuing the National Identity Card (CIN), enhancing the security of the new identity issuance process. The shared registration platform, developed by Serpro, facilitates secure data sharing between the Federal Revenue of Brazil (RFB) and Civil Identification Bodies (OICs). The adoption begins in Goiás, Paraná, and Rio de Janeiro, with a nationwide implementation deadline set for November 6, 2023, as per Decree No. 10,977 of February 23, 2022.

Blockchain’s Edge in Security

Blockchain technology plays a pivotal role in personal data protection and fraud prevention, offering Brazilian citizens a more secure digital experience. The blockchain platform, dubbed b-Registers, is crucial for the security and reliability of the National Identity Card project, according to Serpro’s president, Alexandre Amorim. Blockchain applications benefit from data immutability, making it nearly impossible to alter or counterfeit recorded data. Additionally, decentralization reduces vulnerability to cyberattacks, while the technology’s transparency feature allows the tracing of all transactions and activities, enhancing user trust.

Implementation Timelines

The transition to blockchain for CIN issuance starts in Goiás, Paraná, and Rio de Janeiro this week. Over the next six weeks, other states will follow suit. The decree mandates all issuing bodies to adopt the new CIN standards by November 6, 2023. Rogério Mascarenhas, the Secretary of Digital Government at the Ministry of Management and Public Services Innovation (MGI), emphasizes the importance of adhering to the set timeline, outlining the CIN project’s significant impact on public safety and organized crime combat.

Citizen-Centric Benefits

Issued since July last year, the CIN incorporates new security elements like a secure QR Code and an automated reading zone, facilitating easy and secure checks by public safety forces. Besides the physical version, a digital version is available on the app. A notable change is the adoption of the CPF as the national registration number, ensuring consistent citizen identification across all states.

The initiative aligns Brazil with global trends, as illustrated by a similar program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, granting residents digital wallet access to identity documents. Over the years, Brazil has been striving to unify identity issuance across its nearly 30 states, with blockchain technology significantly advancing this objective.

The announcement comes as Brazil explores a central bank digital currency (CBDC), named Drex, announced in August, marking a step towards modernized, secure, and efficient public service delivery.

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Binance Research: Ethereum’s Roadmap for Scalability and Decentralization

Ethereum, the blockchain that transitioned to a Proof-of-Stake model, is far from done with its upgrades, according to a report by Binance Research dated September 4, 2023. The report highlights Ethereum’s focus on scalability and decentralization, with Layer-2 solutions and Danksharding being key components.

The transition to Proof-of-Stake is merely a “significant milestone,” the report states. Layer-2 solutions are gaining traction as evidenced by a “257.7% YTD” increase in mainnet data publishing fees in 2023. These solutions are seen as the most efficient route to scalability.

Danksharding, a new concept introduced in the report, aims to make Ethereum a scalable and unified platform for settlement and data availability. Proto-Danksharding (EIP-4844) serves as its precursor, introducing “blob-carrying transactions.”

Blobs, another concept highlighted, operate on a multi-dimensional EIP-1559 fee market. They offer a more cost-effective solution for Layer-2s compared to the current calldata space. Key components like Data Availability Sampling and KZG Commitments are part of the path to Danksharding, aiming for “centralized block production with decentralized trustless block validation.”

On the state management front, Verkle Trees are identified as critical for Ethereum’s move towards statelessness. They enable nodes to validate blocks without storing the entire state database. High disk space requirements, a barrier to universal node access, are being addressed through history expiry (EIP-4444).

Other notable upgrades include Single Slot Finality, Distributed Validator Technology, and Secret Leader Election, which aim to refine Ethereum’s architecture further.

The Binance Research report provides a comprehensive look into Ethereum’s future, emphasizing its ongoing efforts to balance scalability with decentralized validation. With various upgrades in the pipeline, Ethereum aims to solidify its position as a robust blockchain platform.

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