Last week, Cosmos Network, which I believe is a big event, launched. Yes, it's a blockchain initiative – but definitely not just another. If I'm right, its consequences will one day reach your life too, but it's enough bleeding, that the ripples will probably not hit you in a decade. Maybe five years, for an advanced TechCrunch reader like you.
(Yes, these are bold words, but if I say it myself, my track record is pretty good with this kind of stuff. The last blockchain launches I wrote about was Ethereum, which you may have heard of … and I was the only non-specialized commentator / journalist who covered it at that time.)
This launch is an abstrus and extremely technical achievement, which is currently only important to those who already live in the midst of the small, strange subculture of humanity that jeopardizes block chains as a path to a better, decentralized and fairer future. (Not to be confused with the much larger number who see cryptographic courses first and foremost as an opportunity to get rich quick, careful about how sketchily.) But it is a very impressive technical achievement, with every chance of ultimately becoming important for many more people. 1
These validators, by the name, so make sure the chain's transactions are valid and know that they will win rewards if it is honest and accurate … but if they are dishonest or inaccurate, or offline, their efforts will slashed "ie they will lose money. (Currently, there are 100 validators, this number depends on triple.) It has been shown, at least theoretically, that even though validators dishonestly collect, as long as at least two-thirds of them are honest, the chain is safe.
This is a very big thing, because the much better efficiency and speed of Proof of Stake opens a path to decentralized systems that support many many more actions than Proof of Work chains such as Bitcoin or ( today) Ethereum, with a very much less ecological footprint. If the Proof of Stake succeeds in the harsh, cruel real world – albeit a great om; The implementation is complicated and has a much larger attack area, both social and technical, than Proof of Work. Then, block chains can finally seriously scale with acceptable security without consuming a noticeable part of the world's electricity. 19659002] However, Cosmo's ambitions go much further. Cosmos is not intended as just another blockchain. We have more than enough with them already. It is intended as a hub that connects other block chains to one another – thus "Blockchains Internet". In addition, it provides the tool that in theory makes it much easier for any software engineer to build a completely new, custom design blockchain … which in turn can interoperate with any number of others.
Why is this? For block chains to be important in addition to cryptographic curves – if they are to be used for applications such as namespaces, repository storage, digital collectibles, supply chains, independent identities and decentralized social media, to extract the usual laundry list of desirable decentralized apps – these applications would benefit greatly of being able to interact with each other.
To some extent they can already. One can perform atomic swaps that trade Bitcoin for Zcash in a single indivisible transaction. But this type of interoperability is difficult and limited by the host chain's limitations, no matter what they may be. Cosmos offers a convincing alternative vision: instead of a single "world computer" chain where all decentralized applications run, suggests many block chains, one for each application, speak to each other and convey assets, collectibles, data, and crypto baskets to and from each other via agreed "hub".
This week's actual launch was the first of them, Cosmos Hub. In principle, someone in the future can run a hub. Many of Cosmo's vision remains "in principle, in the future". At present, no other block chains are connected. In principle, the cosmos validator will vote to start interacting with them. (Cosmos also contains built-in "board" in the parliament blocker, ie on chain matching.)
Even then, only certain types of block chains, those with an architecture similar to Cosmos itself – with "fast finality," to be exact – can be connected via a hub. In principle, adapters for other chains, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and ZCash, may in the future be constructed; It probably makes Cosmos a bitcoin "side chain" and / or a competitor / partner of Lightning Network, as if it didn't have enough hats and enough prospects.
Do I sound skeptical? Not Moreso Than Usual: I'm just cautious about making statements before vaporware becomes software. The Cosmos hub, which was launched last week, is, however, very much later, not the former, and although I am wrong with its possible real meaning, it is still a major, significant technical achievement. Congratulations and kudos to their team. It may seem like investors and speculators that we remain in the grip of a seemingly endless crypt winter. But for engineers, the launch of Cosmos is a strong sign that spring is coming.