Charles Hoskinson Cardano Update - 27/1/2020
(Written by @Eric_Czuleger)
On Monday January 27th Charles Hoskinson sat down to give an update on IOHK and Cardano. There he discussed upcoming releases as well as time horizons for Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire.
- Charles Hoskinson recently returned from a successful trip to the World Economic Forum at Davos.
- The Incentivized Testnet is continually updating and becoming more stable.
- PwC is operating as the moderator between The Cardano Foundation, Emurgo, and IOHK to consolidate a commercial strategy.
- We will continue to push our marketing especially when it comes to promoting our scientific success in the commercial space.
- IOHK is actively working to increase the accuracy of our timeline estimates.
Updating the ITN
On the 29th of January we will be releasing the next update, milestone 3, for the Incentivized Testnet. This is the first week where we will start getting aggregated statistics from various sources. While this data previously existed they were siloed and fragmented. Now, we will start discussing how they should be published and used to bolster the ITN itself. The community has already been publishing statistics every few epochs. We see all cultivated information from the ITN as a positive.
Meanwhile, a good deal of ada has been delegated and many stake pools have been set up. While users are still having some expected issues with the network we are working hard to make sure that those are fixed. Every milestone update that comes out hopes to provide new solutions. It is unfortunate that we will have an entirely different model with the Haskell Shelley testnet given the hard work we have done on the ITN. However, that Haskell Shelley testnet has been validated through formal methods, and so we are confident in its initial stability.
Sensing the goalposts
It is important to keep a sense of what the goalposts are and why we began the ITN in the first place. Its original purpose was to explore the business and user experience of staking. We had a model for how staking should be done. We also had a user experience planned. By pulling the pieces together and moving them from the lab to reality with willing participants, we were able to confirm and deny these assumptions. The ITN was never intended to be a consumer product. It was meant to be a product for the sophisticated stake pool operators and those interested in delegating stake. It was built for those dedicated to helping us make the testnet, and the ecosystem better.
The point of this was to get an idea of what the experience would be and how it would work. From that perspective, we consider the ITN’s mission accomplished. We got a tsunami wave of business and technical requirements which inform the future Haskell product. We also managed to put together an incredible community of people willing to go the distance with us. For that we are always grateful.
Moving towards Haskell
In February product manager Dynal Patel will begin coming up with a plan to transition the Rust ITN stakepools to operate on the Haskell testnet. What this means is that we will be able to take our 900 registered stake pools and find a way for them to get their infrastructure working on the Haskell side in anticipation of the mainnet launch.
We have also done a lot of testing of the wallet backend which is a shared piece of infrastructure between the Rust and Haskell side. This has led to a litany of improvements, upgrades and enhanced APIs. This is the reality of alpha software. It can be incredibly frustrating for some people, but it is important to remember where the goal posts are. With that said we are very happy with what we have accomplished with the ITN.
We are now on a two week sprint structure with the Haskell side. As we see the sprints coming we are also continuously performing post-mortems to make sure that we are learning as much as possible in the process. Things are where they need to be at this point in the year. During January and December, it is always frustrating to discuss product and process because of how the holidays eat into productivity time. This is why we have begun to see velocity pick up in the second half of January.
Commercialization and Cardano
In terms of commercialization things are also moving quickly. Jerry Fragiskatos, our Commercial Director has begun to consolidate and unify our virtual strategy. The Cardano Foundation is working on consolidating a commercial product strategy between EMURGO, and IOHK. We are currently using PwC as the moderator. Beginning in February, PwC will begin doing a lot of prep-work by gathering inputs from McCann, IOHK, EMURGO, and the CF. The capstone of this will be a multi-day workshop where they will help us create a consolidated strategy for Cardano across all stakeholders.
It is important that we bring the Cardano Foundation and EMURGO along with IOHK. This will allow them to unify what they have independently come up with alongside our work. The skunkworks that PwC pulled together maintains a good deal of experience with cryptocurrencies and Fortune 500 companies. They know what western enterprises are looking for and we look forward to their guidance. They will help make sure that everything is synced in terms of how we deploy, discuss, and market Cardano in the near future.
Mastering our marketing
We have been pushing marketing recently. To this end, we realize that there are more core USPs that require additional attention. For instance, we are disappointed that the Wikipedia article about proof-of-stake does not mention Ouroboros. It should in light of the fact that we are the first venture in the world to fully solve proof-of-stake as a problem of pure science. It remains important that we bridge that knowledge gap through generating great content about what we have done.
We didn’t write 55 academic papers for fun and experience. We wrote them for practical industrial use. Pursuant to this, it is important to go from the scientific space, where we have been successful, to making sure that our accomplishments have been understood in the wider world. This is especially important among institutional investors who should understand the complex problems we are attempting to solve.
This means that there will be a big effort throughout the month of February to take the things that we have locked up in academia at the moment and explain them in an understandable way. This will give people an knowledge of the problems that we have solved as well as showing everyone what a special product that Cardano is. There have been some piecemeal efforts to do this from the community, the Cardano Effect, and other sources. But it is important that information like this comes directly from the source. That means that we will write proper articles and get into Wikipedia in the event that their commercial censorship stops. We have made great progress in terms of marketing, but there is much more to do.
Partnering with exchanges
We are also working on creating a consolidated way for exchanges to list Cardano. We have begun a robust series of conversations with exchange partners who have listed us and those who are considering listing us. We want to make sure we have the lowest cost and highest quality infrastructure to maintain in an exchange. This includes the explorer, the wallet backend command line utility, and of course, deployability. We are currently learning a lot from each of these conversations including generating business requirements for future collaborations.
New comms strategy
February will be the first month where product managers begin making externally facing videos and AMAs. Aparna Jue, the senior project manager behind Cardano is leading the way. She and her team will begin their monthly data dumps next month. This will include information about what they have learned, where their projects have been, and where they are going. Historically, we have had difficulty estimating time horizons. This stems from ineffective processes and systems as well as personnel and development philosophy changes. We are constantly working to ensure better time predictions going into sprints.
Timeline estimation has been a huge priority of ours. We would like to say a date and to make a firm commitment. This has not always been possible due to technological and market constraints. However, towards the end of February key timelines should become more clear. At this point we will be able to give more accurate dates than were historically possible.
Ratcheting down our timeline is only one of the many things to do as we push Shelley towards the mainnet. We have more than 80 pages of documentation along with traceabilities, a test matrix, and a feature\issue list for Shelley. These, along with regular meetings ensure that everything is taken into account and solved within a reasonable period of time so we can properly scope development.
These are the issues that occur when you go (as we have) from a science based approach to a practical market based approach. Often times the people who are more experienced with Formal Methods are not as experienced with Agile development methodologies. That means we had to take our time to bridge the gap between the two disciplines. This has been a task of both patience and methodology. Our hope is that we will be able to give firm dates for the Shelley Mainnet in February.
Stabilizing the ITN
In the meantime we will continue working on the Incentivized Testnet. Stability is currently our focus. We started a 4-6 week stabilizing sprint in the second week of January. We’re continuing with this sprint on Wednesday January 29th Jormungandr .88. We will continue making progress on this until the ITN is stable. We want to thank everyone for their patience with the Incentivized Testnet. The nature of alpha products is that they are unstable though incredibly useful in the long run.
Haskell versus Rust
We have noticed on Twitter and Reddit that some users are conflating the experience of Rust with the perceived user experience of Haskell. We would like to remind everyone that these are built on entirely different codes. Haskell is designed to be a consumer product for use on your everyday computer. In Haskell we have solved many of the issues that users might be experiencing on Rust. On the consumer side, users will have a far better experience with Haskell than with Rust. This was by design. This is also one of the reasons why it has taken a great deal more time to get the Haskell product out versus the Rust product.
Rust was all about testing hypotheses and building relationships with the community. Haskell was supposed to be the consumer product which could interface with exchanges. It is also the product that has been security audited. Understanding this differentiation is incredibly important. Rust and Haskell are different experiences and one does not imply the other.
There are two major updates happening in February. The first will be the OBFT hard fork and the second will be the Byron Reboot. This means that all of the Haskell code and the Haskell wallet backend will be included. The exact date for these will be announced shortly. We are currently talking with key stakeholders in the release management cycle about this. The Byron reboot is the foundation upon which all code for the entire Cardano roadmap will be launched.
This codebase has been rewritten three times by different teams with different understandings. The final time used formal methods, quick check and academic rigor. This means we are very comfortable in the foundation and we understand our codebase on a deep level. So, all of the Shelley features are being built on top of this and deployed to market rapidly. Given that the new code is so well written and understood, it has high velocity for new features. This means that when the Byron reboot code is in market it can evolve rapidly to be in the Shelley mainnet.
In parallel, there is a Shelley testnet stream which is where we are verifying that all the code we built on top of the Byron Node is working properly. That is also the code that the stake pool operators will build their stake pools to verify that their stake pools are operating. When it is ready and QA gives us a greenlight we will be able to upgrade the Byron code to the Shelley code with a hard fork. With that said, the transition from science to delivery is almost done and we are very happy with the output.
On to the next era
It’s important to remember that the delta between Shelley and Goguen is less significant than between Byron and Shelley. That means that we should be able to pass onto both Shelley and Goguen this year with ease. There are still questions about what qualifies the Basho and Voltaire releases. We’d like to address these here.
With Basho we can be very aggressive and embrace a litany of things like ledger based sharding, but we will likely choose a more conservative path which will accommodate our needs. These needs include micropayments, fast finality, and high transactions per second. Given that the base ledger is (unoptimized) 5 times faster than what Ethereum has brought to market we believe that Basho will achieve users requirements as a payment system or smart contract platform.
Hydra and Voltaire
Meanwhile, a parallel team will likely begin working with Hydra prior to finishing Shelley or Goguen. As for Voltaire, the primary collection of business and technical requirements for Voltaire will come as an output of the Cardano Improvement Protocol (CIP) process. This requires coordination between our three separate teams to prepare our infrastructure ideas for business and technical requirements.
In particular we have been doing exhaustive voting research for three years at the University of Lancaster. This means that we have a high degree of understanding of voting protocols in a decentralized ledger. Secondly, we have many people working at our Cyprus-based entity on the performance of decentralized updates. This research is specifically focused around cryptocurrencies. We have a final team working out of Harvard. They are attempting to consolidate our work with the European Union as well as the University of Lancaster.
Then, once the technical and business requirements come in from the CIP committee we can scope something valuable for a voting and a treasury system with incentivized participation. We intend to launch this within 2020. This is a high priority item as IOHK will be using the system for the next 5 years of research and development for Cardano. More importantly, we need the system in place before we can utilize it.
With all that being said, we have the infrastructure and teams in place to develop the CIP process in a reasonable timeframe. Once their work is complete we hope that the Goguen team will be able to roll over and then begin working on Voltaire within a reasonable time horizon. This is all moving in the right direction due to the fact that we have done the foundational research. It is less about theory at this point and more about making strategic bets on what will be easiest to maintain.
Betting on voting
Voting remains one of the most difficult problems to solve in the decentralized space. How do you have intentful communication? How do you ensure participation? How do you offset rational ignorance? What level of consent is required for the system to evolve? This is especially important if there is less than a majority present for voting. In order to avoid hard forks it’s important that a majority is involved. Otherwise the voted upon fork does not have a democratic mandate and we risk creation of CardanoCash or a CardanoClassic. Ultimately the way to avoid this is to figure out exactly how voting will take place in the best possible way. The Cardano Foundation is mandated to lead the way in determining this.
As we start consolidating statistics on the ITN, IOHK will likely begin publishing a summary of these statistics, next week or the week after. We urge users to remember that given that the ITN is a testnet, problems are still to be expected. We are looking for more stability and clearer time horizons shortly.
As far as commercialization we are beginning to align our goals through PWC. Based on our collaboration with them we will achieve alignment between the Cardano Foundation, EMURGO and IOHK. Meanwhile, the first wave of marketing from McCann is emerging for review. It will then be iterated and refined before being released. Interest is developing rapidly in the Cardano ecosystem and it is crucial that we meet that interest with product capability. This is why we are focusing on product velocity, marketing, and commercialization.
As always, thank you for your time, attention, and support!