I’ve always thought that one of the most important things in life is knowing when it’s time to take a step back. Well, in this “Interview with the Nerd”, Riccardo will do the honors by entertaining Asmodat San with questions about his history, his roots and the Kira Exchange.
Believe me, I really enjoyed their exchange (with a coffee in my hand) and I’m sure it will be the same for you!
Riccardo: First of all, thank you for allowing us to interview you!
Asmodat: Thanks for doing things like this for Cosmos.
R: I’d kick off by asking you what it might be one of the most asked question between Cosmonauts: what is your real first name, if you want to share it?
R: Perfect, and why did you choose such a nick name? Where does the famous “Asmodat” and later “Asmodat San” come from?
A: This handle is extreamly old.
I picked it around the time I learned my first coding skill, something like 12 years ago. I was playing with MASM assembler on windows. Back then I really wanted to have my own company called this way, AsmodDat -> Assembly and Data, just like you have “Micro Soft” you have “Asmo Data” -> Asmodat.
R: That’s fascinating. So you’ve been inside the coding game for a while now (you said 12 years). How did you get into the blockchain world?
A: When I was in the university in 2013–2014 I was mining with on my laptop Dogecoins. I got quite some from the early blocks but then I forgot about them and never though about withdrawing them from the mining pool 😂
So, I lost them forever. During that time everyone was getting excited about Ethereum and PoS was not in sight. At least I had no clue about it until 2015 around the time “DASH” came out. It wasn’t PoS, but it had the concept of “masternodes”. I started being aware of more and more projects ever since, but I needed some funds. In 2015 I came around a dice game called DaDice and wrote a program to exploit the faucet that was using Google ReCaptcha v2. I managed to exploit it by using sound analysis and very simple learning algorithms.
This is how I made my first BTC, I think it was around $200–300 at the time. After I got my first funds I was building a wrapper around the Kraken exchange and started playing with algorithmic trading. Then by a mere chance I found out about the ICONOMI project that later invested in Cosmos. I learned about their Cosmos investment from the insider back channels on the brink of 2016–2017.
It was the most FOMO video I had ever seen back in the day.
A: We met with Milana on the ICONOMI channel. It was very much like a family-type community that was helping each other learn about crypto more and more. I was active inside the Cosmos community the day that Cosmos Slack channel was created.
Back then I was putting all my time and skills into Cosmos (as I didn’t had much money in it) to make people aware and attract as many ecosystem projects as possible.
Milana was advising and helping out the Sentinel project, then when I was made aware of Sentinel I naturally convinced them to use Cosmos 😉 rather than to continue with Ethereum or Waves (what everyone was doing back in the day). Since our paths crossed, all this experience rewired us to look together for more efficient ways to grow the Cosmos and all the projects around and this is how Kira came to be.
R: For all the people who doesn’t know about it, could you describe Kira in a tweet-long phrase?
Kira is a project with the goal to “Secure the Future of the Proof of Stake” by allowing direct, unstoppable, trust-less, permission-less access to the market to any coin in the interchain ecosystem. It also aims to help the Cosmos Hub to recreate the perfect incubation conditions that created a new paradigm during the previous smart contract era, but this time in the sustainable manner thanks to amazing tools like Cosmos SDK and all the modules around it.
R: Interesting. So, I’ve read the introducing article by Milana and inside it you say that your apps are going to be distributed as static contents while the dynamic data will be fetched directly from the chain. How do you plan to distribute such contents without using any web server? Could you make a practical example?
A: Well, the difference between Kira and all other projects is that you have this middle-man, as you noted, required to operate a server for you and proxy (or compute the request) so that the chain end-users can interact with the blockchain applications. This is how the IDEX, Etherdelta, Kyber, 0x and almost all other projects inside the crypto space currently work. Of course this way of operating immensely limits your accessibility because for normal users interacting with contracts while this server is not available (or it is censored) is close to impossible.
Cosmos however, thanks to the LCD, allows you to efficiently query the chain state and hit the blockchain directly from the client side (either the browser or some custom app). Ideally you do not want to have the client running a full node, what you can do however is to create a concept that I call a “distributed, slashable, load-balanced infinite LCD/RPC proxy”. If full nodes have slashable stake and can sign responses that can be easily verified and reported if they are not true then you can create an interesting protocol that not only optimizes your route to the chain but also acts as your backend. Kira will only use static content with the integrity verification in form of the hash stored on the chain.
Anyone will be able to download the frontend code for example from Git and verify its integrity. Then they will be also able to run it (using a browser to see the contents) or access it from one of the trusted domains of ours where that page is hosted as a GitHub page or S3 (in this case we do not even need a server). There will never be a single point of failure required for customer in order to access the blockchain application.
R: I really hope you will get more developers after this interview, as I really think your project is very interesting! Back to the whole system architecture, I have another question regarding the MBPoA part. While describing it you say that the validators are going to be elected by the governance. How can you make sure that each zone does not have the same validator set as the other ones (and thus, all the zones are controlled by the same validator set)?
A: The governance will be an evolution from a Technocracy to the concept we call Enlightened Democracy. The latter is a governance system controlled by chain-conscious actors who by majority are not validators — not only technocrats.
It is extremely important to build a strong community and act upon not only on-chain but also a social contract that we call Code of Conduct.
When you are elected to be part of the governance you have to obey not only the protocol but also social rules that will be created by this initially technocratic governance system where tech skilled individuals create and curate the codex of rules to follow that helps secure the network.
In general, securing a Proof-of-Stake system is the hardest challenge that entire crypto ecosystem is facing to date if this paradigm is to be sustained. We believe that there is no magic algorithm that can solve every issue and even if there was it would be a huge bug-prone risk or efficiency bottleneck. We think that at the end of the day it’s a task better suited for validators/humans controlling/operating the network. Kira’s solution is to use the most distributed resource on the planet — human brains and social rules — to ensure that with the help of the chain-conscious actors the network can be optimally protected. We think that programming humans is way more efficient and trustworthy then protocols and DAOs.
The overall world’s complexity is far beyond any single individual or algorithm comprehension, even in your example you can’t really know if your network is under the attack if the same validator set is controlling everything. It both might be or not be a good idea to have same subset of validators for different for the zones. We think that it should be in the hands of the governance to decide what is the most optimal and secure way to operate.
Giving too much power to small amount of people and too much for too many is bad. There must be a balance.
R: Got it. I see that you use the expression “Code of Conduct” a lot in the article, and you referred to it even inside the answer you just gave us. I’m really curios about a very specific thing of it: who is going to be responsible of writing this Code of Conduct? Is there going to be a first version written off-chain and later voted on-chain, or is it going to be written and edited off-chain by major company stakeholders?
A: That’s why it’s called Enlightened Democracy — democracy of those who think and care. There is not going to be a single individual to create social rules. Smaller group of people (core team) will create rough guidelines regarding what should be included there, for example how do we coordinate upgrades, what are requirements to join gov set, how to behave in case of attack, how to behave during human to human interactions, what are the ethics, etc. Then those individuals, some with skin in the game, some being GoS winners, and others being contributors who put in their visions, their own skills and their sweat will together build the Code chapter by chapter, It will then be embedded and curated on-chain, in order to allow every network participant to know the SLA.
R: So, the Code of Conduct will be written by the core team and later revisited more times from other people?
No, only chapter titles will be defined by the core team. That team will define what the operators need to agree upon to secure and sustain the network. From that point of time onwards, it will be the social consensus to define the exact contents and thus those that will be operating the network IRL.
R: The CoC will be created once the main-net has launched already, am I right?
A: The mainnet will launch with the bare minimum features required to be operative. That means after the Cosmos SDK has been cleaned up and made sterile so that it can be easily upgraded. The chain will then be operated by the Core Team and then the validator set will be expanded after various social events like GoS with identifiable actors (we will have to do a KYC for them). Once the community has decided that we have reached a satisfactory number of validators, the CoC creation will kick in.
R: Perfect, very clear! I’ve got one last question.
Inside the article it’s written that validators vote for counsellors and that the governance of the chain will evolve from a technocracy to an enlightened democracy when there are more counsellors than validators. How can you prevent that validators collude and vote for counsellors that run the validators themselves (i.e. CEOs)? In other terms, how can you make sure the evolution is towards an enlightened democracy and will not transform into an oligarchy?
A: We have to bootstrap the network initially and elect the people to be part of the governance who are honest and agree with the proposed vision. That means people who understand the economic, the technology and who know the consequences of their choices.
Definitely being rich is not going to be enough to become part of governance in early stages, it will require technical skills (that’s why we call it a Technocracy).
Every crypto protocol assumes that the majority of the initial set of actors is honest and not sybil. In our case this set will not be huge, definitely not exceeding 100 individuals, and thus it will be maintainable by the core team that will initiate its creation. It musts be the result of both the organisers (Kira Core) and the community effort to arrive to the set that will be trusted and wish to expand towards a proposed roadmap.
It’s kind of like the real life where we evolved from kings ruling to aristocracy and later to democracy.
The objective is to start more centralized and ensure we can decentralize rather then start “decentralized” and centralize as it is currently happening to many other projects.
R: That makes sense. I like the way you’ve thought about the centralization and its evolution. I’d like to wrap up the interview with a final personal question: where do your profile pics come from? I’ve always been very interested in how you chose them and their evolution. I’ve seen the guy on the pc, him with the pc on fire, and finally your new pic. Why did you choose such enigmatic pictures in the first place?
A: The faul on my old pic is called Stańczyk,
it’s a famous paiting of Jan Matejko.
I am Polish, and in Poland fauls were not “jokers” or “funny” figures that made a court laugh. Instead, they were the most skilled and influential king’s advisors of the era, the only ones allowed to mock the king’s decision and that made the ruling class think about their own ideas. In the painting Stańczyk is sad because he has some concerns about the country’s future. In similar way I was feeling about the crypto space at the edge of 2018, thus I chose that as a base. Then as crypto burned the picture also burned.
Daniela: Thank you very much also for this historical clarification, I love history and I always like to discover new aspects of cultures different from mine.
Asmodat: Thank you as well, I loved the mind exercising questions very much.
Daniela: And thank you for your time and your explanations: I must say that I really enjoyed listening to your dialogue.
I would love to do a second part later, when project Kira will have some updates 😊 Really, listening to both of you is really interesting. You are very knowledgeable, but you speak in such a way that makes everyone understand what you are explaining.
Asmodat: Pleasure is all mine!
Riccardo: Thank you very much Mateusz! We will surely do a second part updating the whole community about your incredible project!
Asmodat: Thank you for the kind words, looking forward to it.
Kira Exchange is a next-generation hyperscale decentralized exchange (DEX) engineered for cross-chain transfer and frictionless trading. Built on Cosmos.
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