ARK Crypto Podcast - Episode #24
Episode DescriptionThe twenty-fourth episode of the ARK Crypto Podcast is here! This week we have a special treat for you, an exclusive interview with ARK Chief Technology Officer Kristjan Košič, who has a lot to share about the ARK meetup in Utrecht organized by Delegate The Foundry as well as the developer meetup, ARK Improvement Proposals, and techical vision insights for ARK. This interview is an ARK Crypto Podcast exclusive, and we hope you learn a lot about ARK technology as well as the ARK community. Enjoy!
|00:02:00||ARK Interview w/ Kristjan|
|00:02:22||Kristjan's role as CTO|
|00:03:56||Community meetup in Utrecht|
|00:09:48||ARK Mainnet Scalability|
|00:16:20||Interoperability & new transaction types|
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ARK Podcast 024
ARK CTO Kristjan Kosic on the Cast Talking Utrecht Meetup, Development Meeting, AIPs
Hello, crypto land. I’m Justin. It’s Friday and this is the Ark Crypto Podcast Episode 24.
Yo, yo, we’ve still got two open contests running on the ARK Subreddit at Reddit.ARK.io. ArkStickers.com is running a contest where all you have to do is snap a picture of ARK stickers on your stuff and enter to win 200 ARK courtesy of Delegate Jarunik, and we’ve got gonggrabber’s community video contest still running on Reddit.ARK.io accepting submissions, but the slots are filling up fast. So, take your video to the screen, earn 350 ARK if your video is accepted, and qualify to win over 1,000 ARK for first place.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You like that I’m out there talking about and promoting ARK on other shows, like the ITK Crypto Podcast and the Crypto Brew Show, and since you’re already subscribed to the ARK Subreddit at Reddit.ARK.io, you can see that content right when it comes out, but then when it’s time for the podcast, it’s a syndication of that content and you’re like oh, man, syndication? Well, not today. Today, the podcast is proud to announce a very special guest, Kris, ARK’s Chief Technology Officer, with an exclusive interview as he talks about the meet-up in the Netherlands, the ARK developers meeting, ARK technical vision and more.
Not only that, but this is an exclusive release right here on the ARK Crypto Podcast, so kick back, relax and enjoy this exclusive interview with Kris.
Many community members and even delegates attended this prominent meet-up. Delegate the Foundry featuring Yokoama and Tikon were the chief organizers of this community meet-up. We also saw delegate Cryptology, the Golden Horde represented, Dutch Delegate, of course, and ItsANameToo was there as well. Nice.
Not only that, but more than a few ARK Team members were also in town for the meet-up. They include FX, Matt, Kris, Lars, Gerard, Josh and Sam. Stay tuned on YouTube.ARK.io for a little montage video wrapping up the meet-up.
Now, let’s get into this exclusive interview with Kris, Ark CTO. Enjoy.
Justin: Hello, crypto land. I’m Justin and, of course, you’re listening to the ARK Crypto Podcast and today we have a very special treat for all you listeners out there. We have got ARK’s Chief Technical Officer, Kris. How’s it going, Kris?
Kris: Hey, Justin. It’s going well. It’s my first time on the podcast, so I’m looking really forward to talking with all of you guys.
Justin: Yes! I’m very excited to have you on. I’m sure also the community would really love to hear everything you have to say about ARK. Now, you have recently actually been promoted to CTO. How’s that been going so far?
Kris: Well, quite busy, quite busy. I’m really proud and happy, so, I can put more of my effort or joint effort into let’s say steering the technical direction of the company, looking where new features that needs to be added and that’s related to the corporate background I had before, means like it helps me to think more clearly how would our technology, how would ARK technology actually benefit the enterprise user, the bigger companies, which feature we should add, what is missing and so on. So, actually, these are the stuff we are working on at the start and yes, want to address a bit more.
Justin: That’s great. So, who are the primary people that you’re interacting with as the CTO?
Kris: Well, closely, of course, ARK Team, let’s say all the C levels and then all the leads. I mean, I’m always in connection with different leads because we have special parts, like, there’s a core section which is a development team that addresses things related to the core blockchain, the blockchain as a platform. Then there’s the wallet section, which is managed let’s say by Rok. The core section is managed by Brian. So, all together, this is like on the developer side, and of course, reaching out to new businesses, new users, new enterprises, that would either want to integrate and use technology, or just learn something about them. So, yes, so let’s say it’s a whole circle.
Justin: Nice. And I also saw that you recently attended an ARK meet-up arranged by the ARK Community, some delegates arranged a meet-up in the Netherlands. Is that right?
Kris: Yes. It was an awesome meet-up. Actually, it was pretty mixed, so, the delegates organized the meet-up for let’s say all the fans, all the people interested in technology, all the people wanting to build new stuff and talk about ARK, which is really enthusiastic. I mean, the area where we had the meet-up was really full, the questions, the suggestions, the topics we addressed from the, let’s say, from the ARK Community Fund to what are the specifics of the technology. It’s really very enthusiastic, where you just sit in the audience and listen to other people to talk about the product that your team has been building. So, yeah.
Justin: Nice, and so, Kris, I do have a question for you, because this is the first time that we’ve heard or spoken the town for me. How do you pronounce the town name? Is it Utrecht?
Kris: I don’t know. I think it’s Utrecht, but yeah, we’re going to follow up with Lars on this.
Justin: Follow up with Lars, yeah.
Justin: Lars is the CFO. He’s in the Netherlands, so he would know.
Justin: Nice. Alright. Well, who was all at the meet-up who might be more known in the community?
Kris: Well, as you know, the meet-up was organized by the delegates, more focused from the Dutch area. So, Dutch Delegate was there. Cryptology, but essentially, the whole meet-up, the idea of the meet-up, was pushed forward by Yokoama. So, he was the one organizing the event, handing out the invites and also doing part of the presentation, where he was presenting his work related to the community fund.
Justin: Okay. Very good. Nice. So, let’s talk a little bit more about the meet-up. Were there any questions that you heard that stood out that people were asking, and what were those and what are your thoughts on those?
Kris: Yeah. Actually, a good question. Maybe we go back one more step. So, the core meet-up had three presentations. So, the first presentation was actually about core, the new core v2, and the roadmaps to be free. This was done by Mark, the Cryptology delegate. So, this was really a good presentation giving you, like, a broad overview about the overall soft architecture, what is the structure, what does the mother system do, which plugins do we have, why do we have the plugins or essentially the power of the plugins which will push the mass adoption of ARK technology as it is now much easier to add new functionality just by creating your own new plugin. You don’t need to change anything in the core. You can just use all the APIs and interfaces that are there for you. So, this was really a good presentation by Mark. Then, the second presentation was by a member from the Dutch delegate team, which actually addressed the hackathons. So, all the recent hackathons, we did, why do we do them. Essentially, he was talking about the essential idea, why do we do hackathons. Okay, first is definitely to promote the technology, to spread the word about ARK technology, but it’s very important also the feedback we receive back from the hackathons. Essentially, you want to target the hackathon with a specific challenge and this challenge essentially gives you a lot of users that are testing your product in a very short amount of time. So, if you’re paying closely, if you pay close attention, you can see what is missing and which parts can you improve and these parts are usually related or more related to let’s say, the dark sections, you know, if you go back two months the incrementation was not so up to date as it is now. Then the push button blockchain story or how easy it is to start your own blockchain. Actually, this was essentially partly confirmed as all the students managed to launch their own chain in let’s say a couple of minutes, but if-
Kris: -if I remember, let’s, if you go back a year, where we had our first hackathons with v1, it took us a day, a day and a half, just to configure the v1 nodes to behave on their own. So, yeah, it was good to have all the feedback. So, this was the second presentation and the third presentation was done by Yokoama addressing the ARK Community Fund.
Justin: Okay, great. So, it sounds like three awesome presentations were given, and I’m sure that the attendees of the meet-up had some questions after hearing the presentations.
Justin: Were there any questions that kind of jumped out at you as particularly intriguing, and what were they, and what do you think about those?
Kris: Oh, let me think. Yeah, there were a couple of questions, definitely. Regarding the first presentation about which was made by Mark, they were related to the block size and how is it related to let’s say the size in megabytes. I think Mark did pretty well, where he just did a live calculation on stage. He was like, hmm, let me think, so, 150 different sections x 200 something bytes, so, they were looking at him, but what we stressed out later on is that maybe the block size isn’t such an important question because essentially, it’s about the dynamics and the other core architecture of the blockchain which is really, you can configure everything and the number of transactions you want to include in the block is just one line change in the configuration file and you can have your own blockchain with your own properties. So, that would be the correct answer to that question.
Justin: On that note actually, Kris, I did want to ask you a little bit about the scalability of the ARK MainNet. Like, how does it work in terms of if we need to add more throughput to the blockchain, how would that upgrade take place and what trade offs might we have to deal with?
Kris: Well, it’s always a balance between the functionality you want to have and the size limitations, but if you’re looking at the size limitation, the storage space is not very expensive and if our blockchain MainNet is currently at 7.3 million height and if you look at the size of the database is in compressed something like 1.5 gigabytes, so that’s not a lot, yeah?
Justin: Yeah, that’s pretty small.
Kris: Yeah. So, I mean, if you compare this to other chains, which are expensive, running on POV consensus and you have to have almost like 400 gigabytes to one terabyte of space, so we have a lot of room here to improve, yeah, and we also had that discussion about scaling and let’s say the option of technology at the meet-up with the developers, which actually happened two days before the meet-up we had with the community in Utrecht and we were brainstorming there, like, for, let’s say, for the first day mostly, about the critical issues of the roadmap, where we want to improve, what we want to do this year, what are our promises we have made and how to deliver them, and one of the, let’s say, the most asked questions which we also see in the community is the questions related to, let’s say, the virtual machine, how are we going to address the logics related to that, and personally, to me, the smart contracts, so the virtual machine never convinced me in a way, let’s say, in the way of enterprise user or company user or a bunch of companies using a blockchain, would use, because essentially, there is some trust already established and this is where our, let’s say, the plugin technology comes in handy, because instead of, let’s say, writing your own smart contract, you could be just writing your own plugin, which would be contract written in code among the companies reaching some kind of consensus surrounding their own business, which would be, I don’t know, tracking some kind of supply chain management, or just selling tacos like a taco chain.
Justin: So, when you’re talking about, when you’re talking about the ARK VM, the virtual machine, I notice that you went into, you know, the options of using core plugins to achieve similar goals, which definitely makes a lot of sense.
Justin: But is the ARK Virtual Machine still well positioned to be an easy way to pour it off something like Ethereum or a different MainNet that already runs smart contracts we know today, and pour it on to their own blockchain with ARK technology? Is the ARK VM still, you know, visualized as a vehicle for that?
Kris: Well, maybe, maybe not. I don’t want to compare it as the same vehicle that’s running smart contracts on the Ethereum chain, but it would be a new kind of vehicle because, you know, smart contracts proved their efficiency, especially in the ICO, if you know last year what happened, but smart contracts 3.00, I’m not sure how are we going to name it, but essentially, you have to give tools, resources, templates, to the users, to the developers, that are going to build something on top of it, and this something on top of it means giving them flexibility so that they can introduce, for example, their own transaction types and their own data fields that should be stored in the chain. For example, most of the companies I had contact with were just like, okay, so you have four transaction types, but how do I store data on the chain? How do I add additional fields? So, this is where we were not yet completely ready. That’s why we were addressing this topic at the developer meet-up, and essentially, want to introduce a general template module where a developer company can follow, let’s say, a template, which is a set of guidelines in code, and they’ll be able to deliver their own transactions, find their own transaction types, their own validation logic and essentially their own data type that will be also able, enable them to store additional data on the chain. So, if this is something that we want to put on the MainNet, I’m not sure because before such any transaction type and plugin will go on the MainNet, all the delegates would have to agree and should be voted upon, but-
Justin: Oh, so it sounds like, you know, that would definitely make ARK even more versatile and extensible and just flexible for developers and people who need to design custom blockchains and then you mentioned transaction types and-
Justin: -I did want to ask you a little bit about this notion of a decentralized smartbridge that’s not using ACES and was that discussed at all, or using transaction types like time locks to exchange value and instructions between different ARK based blockchains, is there any information you have on that?
Kris: Yeah. Actually, a really good question. I mean, this was also one of the first questions that came up on the community meet-up in Utrecht. Essentially, it was how to connect ARK chain with let’s say other bridgechains or sister chains, which are running on the same technology, how to enable communication among them, and that’s where, well, we didn’t discuss the template model, which I presented now, but essentially, by introducing the template system for the transaction types, we’re going to build it so that we’re going to firstly introduce this template system, then we’re going to use it ourselves to add new transaction types. Okay?
Justin: Oh. Kind of like if Photoshop is making its own ads for Photoshop?
Kris: Yeah, exactly. I mean, like you’re using everything related to ARK technology, we also use it ourselves, so this is the best way to test it, to prove that it works, and to see what’s missing, you know. It’s like, the whole development life cycle.
Justin: So, okay. When you’re talking about, you know, the bridges, were there any key directions that were discussed on how to do that, or was it let’s focus on making the templates first and then move on to designing the transaction types?
Kris: Yes. Mostly it was focused on the template first, because then you will be able to introduce new features, new challenges, like for example, when we talk about cross-chain communication, or if you want to talk about cross-chain communication inside the ARK technology, atomic swaps is something that will definitely benefit us all, and just by adding, introducing, new transaction types, which are hash time block contracts and then providing some kind of a payment channel or a fixed channel between different chains, this would then able, let’s say, users to achieve that user experience that is missing on top of the atomic swap because if you look at atomic swaps now, they’re essentially doable. You have two hash time lock contracts on each size and you have to provide let’s say a drafted connection between both of the wallets and I was looking at some of the features or the recent atomic swaps that were let’s say made public by a lot, a few chains that promoted them, and they were already like hardcore, you know, console interface, there was no graphical input, and just by giving some kind of new technology or just by leveraging the stuff the team, we already put into the v2, because v2 is already now developer friendly, we have like a web hook system where you can just listen to specific events on the chain, and you can combine the web hook system with the supreme ARK desktop wallet that you already have, just to connect and to give the users that want to execute atomic swap that experience is missing.
Justin: Yes, I see. You know, that’s actually, Kris, one of the reasons why I’m so excited about ARK and why I’m involved, because before I knew about blockchains, I was involved with drag and drop graphical user interface style coding.
Justin: And what that did was it really opened up an entire world of programming to me and computer science and everything without having to have like the full knowledge of, you know, syntax and writing language and all that.
Justin: I was able to achieve a lot of goals with that. So, when I heard about ARK and ARK wanting to do a graphical user interface that lets you customize your own blockchain any way you want, it really, it really clicked with me, because I understood the opportunities that something like that can offer somebody who doesn’t know everything about blockchain technology that wants to use blockchain technology and do something with it. So, I’m very excited about what ARK’s got going on in terms of making things very easy to work with blockchains.
Kris: I was really enthusiastic before when I started with ARK, you know, I was a community member and I guess almost the same thing that attracted you attracted me to the technology. I started playing with nodes, saw what was missing, then I wanted to contribute and well, I became more and more involved with the team, but what I wanted to say after finishing our meet-up and then from our two day intense brainstorming workshop, we got together with let’s say with the developers in Utrecht at 9am and well, we didn’t stop until late in the evening, and now I remember why it was so hard for me to fall asleep, because essentially, when I went to bed, I was still, you know, dreaming the ideas, thinking about the direction where we’re going, what we want to improve, and I was like, I went to bed at 1 and woke up at 4:40 and I wasn’t even asleep, you know, my eyes were wide open, I was just thinking how to improve, we have to deliver this, this is really awesome. Yes, so I’m really looking forward to it.
Justin: That’s great, Kris, and I’m really glad to hear that you’re so excited about ARK too, and it’s really nice to have you in a position of CTO. I definitely know that you’re doing everything possible to keep things moving along and I’m really happy with the progress so far. I know following blog.ARK.io is really, really fun for me and probably fun for our listeners too, because you get some great announcements about development updates and, of course, Oleg’s very beautiful graphics, which we all love and adore of course.
Justin: So, Kris, we’re getting a little closer to the end here and I was very interested to talk a little bit about AIPs with you. Are there any AIPs out there that you find particularly interesting right now that are in open discussion, and what do you think about them?
Kris: Yes. So, some of the AIPs are lately that were introduced were especially related to the, let’s say, to the issues of POS blockchains in general, which are, let’s say, double forging, long range attacks, replay attacks.
Kris: So, these are all the topics we were addressing at the developer meet-up, so new AIPs will be coming out this time next week. Essentially, we structured them in a way so we address like replay attack, which we want to, of course, mitigate in the most efficient way, so this would be one AIP will be talking about, let’s say, for example, Ethereum has nodes which gives you the sequential number of a transaction that is relayed to a sender making this transaction harder to replay on a different chain and this is then relayed let’s say to a long range attack, and we were knocking our heads against double forgery, which is now let’s say not yet solved the issue, and where we have similar issues on our blockchain and one of the proposals was discussing how to mitigate this, was AIP 24, where the idea was to bend the double forger, but this was quite, let’s say, a hot discussion, especially if you’re looking at public open source network, because some of the best actors could use this to force a delegate with, let’s say, a bad script to cause double forging.
Justin: I see.
Kris: And then we were like brainstorming on the question how to deterministically the site about two points. One is detection of double forging and another would be how to mitigate it. So, essentially, a delegate double forges when he produces a block in the same time slot, but has different ID meaning that the number of transactions he included are different because the pools were different. So, this, by broadcasting these two blocks, this causes the chain to fork and now we can identify the double forging delegate, but then the question is-
Justin: What to do next.
Kris: Yeah, and when do you want to block him. So, or just to notify all the other nodes when exactly has double forging happened. So, then, actually, Fix who is also at the meeting, Joshua and I came up with let’s say, proof of double forgery, which would be also new AIP-
Justin: I see.
Kris: -that is going to be released next week, which essentially enables us to deterministically define and detect double forgery and also make this detection permanent and to notify the whole network about it. So, meaning you have exact height of the blockchain, you know who did it and then you can react on it based on the consensus amongst nodes and not based on some different API end points that previous improvement suggestions include. So, this would be all explained in more detail, I guess, in the AIPs that are going to follow, but let’s say we can look forward to improvements related to double forgery detection and mitigation that will be one, replay attack prevention, long range attack prevention, or at least making it really, really, really hard and expensive to do it, and of course, the improvements, which are like finalizing of the AIP 11, adding additional fields the transaction types and of course, switching from JSON payloads to probably web socketing direction which will be let’s say minimum overhead of interaction, it will be less chitchat between different servers.
Justin: Nice. Well, it sounds like the AIP system is keeping the team abuzz with new ideas and that’s part of why it exists, so excellent.
Kris: Yeah, and maybe on a side note, we also added some new templates to define the AIP process further, because let’s say the initial AIP definition was based on the Bitcoin improvement proposals.
Kris: But, so, we want to introduce some new features that will be related to let’s say how are we going to structure the AIPS, which will be the mandatory fields, each of the AIPs will need to have, each of the new AIPs will need to have an additional ARK address, meaning that they will be also made public on our website and everybody can actually vote upon the AIPs.
Kris: So, you could actually set the community priority, what they want to build next, but then the team will take the final assessment, how and when this will be implemented.
Justin: Yeah. That sounds really cool, and of course, in alignment with everything else ARK has going on, so that’s really nice. I can’t wait for those improvements. Right now, the AIP system has some more specific, they have some more specific specifications, yes, I said it. It’s a phrase. And when you submit a new AIP, then you’ll have much more clarity on how to construct it, instead of just kind of like writing a thing. So, check it out at Github.ARK.io if you’re out there and you have an idea to improve the ARK protocol. And Kris, I’d just like to thank you so much for coming in on the podcast. This has been so much fun and I’m sure everyone out there is really appreciative of you taking some time to come on and just get your hands dirty with the technical side right here on the podcast.
Kris: Sure, man. I’m really happy to be here. I’m really happy to actually discuss what’s on the roadmap, to share the new features, to share some of my thoughts on the roadmap, but if I think about it, the thoughts are not mine, but essentially, it’s an ecosystem and ARK is an ecosystem. So, everything we do is based on the discussion inside by the team. So, the developer team, the comms team, so everything kind of blends all together and having this information in place on the technical side, from the comms side, from the strategic side, really gives you this more straight down the hatch, so you have a clear vision of where you want to go, how do you want to do it, and it’s just about well, doing it.
Justin: Well, Kris, I definitely see and detect a lot of clarity and confidence in you and what you’ve got going on with ARK. Let’s do this! Thanks again.
Kris: Thank you, man. Bye-bye.
Alright. That’s going to do it for this episode of the ARK Crypto Podcast. You can subscribe and read transcripts at the ArkCryptoPodcast.com. You can also subscribe direct on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify and Castbox. Don’t forget, you can follow us on Twitter @Ark_Podcast where you can stream our episodes directly inside of our tweets. We’ll see you next time.
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