As we can see from the current trend in crypto there is now a move toward privacy. Most people underestimate in my opinion the utility of these cryptographic advances. In this blogpost I will highlight a particular advance enabled by these new cryptographic (and hardware techniques such as trusted execution environment) which can be of massive benefit to the long term believers in Tauchain.
The problem: Anyone can copy the code Ohad writes if it's open source
So we have a problem with Tauchain where all of the code Ohad is writing with regard to TML is open source and on Github. This allows a competitor to simply steal his best ideas and in a sense rob the token holders who actually funded the development of the code. This happens very often as we see a new innovation in the crypto space and soon later we see a new ICO or a new group come out of no where acting as if they originated the technology. In some cases the new group may even be much more centralized, more secretive, and very well funded.
The solution: Secret contracts (private source code and execution)
The trusted execution environment allows for the protection of intellectual property rights on the hardware level. While sMPC (secure multiparty computation) can also achieve similar ends on the software level. The idea being that this provides a solution to idea theft where a community can keep certain critical pieces of code, data, algorithms, or other unique features secret. This creates an entirely new way to monetize knowledge, code, and ideas, which Agoras will be uniquely positioned to leverage.
Guy Zyskind of the Enigma Project provides the definition for what secret contracts are and how they work. The Enigma Project deserves credit for introducing this technology and for identifying a major problem in the cryptospace. Traditionally on Ethereum or all other current platforms when you release a DApp your code has to be open source. It is not possible to create a closed or private source decentralized app. In addition the app has to be executed in the open so all data running through it is public.
Strategic implementation of private knowledge and source code can allow Tauchain to maintain a dominant position
In most cases the world benefits if knowledge is shared. In fact I'm in favor most of the time of sharing as much knowledge as is safe. The problem with algorithms, source code, and certain kinds of knowledge is that by sharing that knowledge it provides a competitive advantage to people who have more financial resources. These individuals can simply see Github and copy. They can hire programmers to compete with Tauchain and Agoras developers and as long as the code is open there will be no real reason to buy the Agoras token long term.
What if the Tauchain development team and Agoras developers decide to implement private knowledge bases? What if it becomes possible to run code in a trusted execution environment so that other developers around the world cannot see the code or the algorithms? This would allow Tauchain to build Agoras in such a way that no other project will be capable of duplicating it. This would lock in the value backed by the community brainpower into the Agoras token making it a true knowledge token which cannot simply by copied with ease by another project.
In fact this is a strategy that developers making apps using Enigma's Secret Contracts are looking into as we speak. This competitive advantage of secrecy will change the landscape of the cryptospace. What does this enable for Agoras? Imagine an encrypted Github which developers can contribute to but only the developers can see the code? Imagine after the code is written that no one else can see the code if the code is set to run privately? This would allow developers to code in secret and have the code run on computers without anyone knowing what the code is.
This can open up security vulnerabilities but Tauchain can defend against these. In particular it matters what is private and what is public. Critical aspects can be private while security critical areas can always be kept public. There may even be ways to prove that the code doesn't behave in a certain way without actually sharing the code (using advanced cryptography). In fact my favored way of implementing this feature would be to timelock the release of the source code by a number of months of years.
The idea isn't to keep things closed forever or secret forever. Privacy is about access control and about keeping things secret long enough to maintain a competitive advantage. A time delay to unlock the source code for example could work. It is even possible to allow the community to use puzzle based time lock encryption to have to mine to get the source code released early (if there is a serious need or threat). In this way all secret blocks of code could be unlockable but not for free and this would make it less likely that the community will seek to unlock it unless there is a genuine reason (beyond just to steal ideas).
What do you think about these ideas? If you agree with this or disagree then comment below. Strategic IP (intellectual property) is used by major corporations to give themselves a competitive advantage. The crypto community can do the same thing in ways the legal mechanisms can't do. In fact it can be done in a more fair and better way because often the people or companies awarded IP rights aren't the actual inventors. A knowledge economy is fantastic but if the knowledge is just harvested by big corporations monitoring the wide open network then it's going to be hard to bring value to a knowledge token.
UPDATE: Many people ask where to buy Agoras. The problem is it's not widely available on centralized exchanges. The only exchange I know that has it is Bitshares. So if anyone really wants to buy Agoras (AGRS) which is the token of discussion in this post feel free to buy it at: https://openledger.io/market/AGRS_BTC
42 million intermediate tokens total. Current price is: 0.00010700 BTC which is around 70 cents. This is the cheapest price I've seen it in a while because for a long time it was $1.50-$1.30 range. This is a very speculative token at this time so buy at your own risk as I'm not providing any financial advice. I'm a holder of this token of course and have been for years.
- Note: Read this from Ohad http://www.idni.org/blog/from-agoras-to-tml.html
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Puddu, I., Dmitrienko, A., & Capkun, S. (2017). μchain: How to Forget without Hard Forks. IACR Cryptology ePrint Archive, 2017, 106.
Kaptchuk, G., Miers, I., & Green, M. (2017). Managing Secrets with Consensus Networks: Fairness, Ransomware and Access Control. IACR Cryptology ePrint Archive, 2017, 201.