Interview with the founder of Oasis Labs: We want to open up a new frontier of private computing, not a “better Ethereum”


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Dawn Song, the founder of Oasis Labs, talked about the competition and evolution of the public chain.

Original title: “Oasis Labs: Continue to fight TPS, or open up a new frontier of private computing? 》
Written by: orangefans

One morning in Wanxiang Blockchain Week, I finally met Dawn Song herself, the founder of Oasis Labs, a public chain project focusing on privacy computing.

In fact, we had already had two online video chats before this meeting. Earlier, I also met at some events in the industry, but I did not sit down and chat.

I have always felt that our industry tends to go to extremes. It is either cold or cold. Serious discussions in the industry are always daunting terms and concepts. Let alone ordinary people, technical experts have half of the words. I don’t understand. Needless to say, the side of the chicken blood.

In this way, the middle state is missing: attention to the individual. Every player participating in this game is a living individual. In addition to profit-seeking, everyone has their own characteristics. Sometimes I think these characteristics are an important factor in the success of this industry, and they are seriously ignored.

Meeting and chatting is the most effective way to understand personal traits, so I have this meeting.

We met at about ten o’clock in the morning in the restaurant of W Hotel, the venue of Wanxiang. Everyone’s schedule during Wanxiang Week was very busy, and I didn’t show up for almost a year. Naturally, various small gatherings were indispensable. We confirmed the specific time on WeChat the night before. She sent the message at 12:40, confirmed at 6 in the morning, and slept for less than six hours.

Arriving at the W Hotel, Dawn Song just came back from a run. She wore a simple sportswear, slender figure, airpod hanging on her ears, put her phone in her pocket, smiled and greeted me. The real person feels younger than in the photo. She may have just finished running. Compared with other people in the restaurant, her steps are lighter.

We found Zhang Zuozi and sat down. She went to get some breakfast, four eggs and four small cups of yogurt. After I had eaten it, I got a glass of orange juice. Just eat and talk.

Interview with the founder of Oasis Labs: We want to open up a new frontier of private computing, not a "better Ethereum"

Regular readers should be aware that the competition and evolution of public chains is a topic that the Orange Book pays special attention to. “Who will be the big winner of the public chain” is also one of the holy grail issues in this industry.

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From 17 years to the present, the industry’s attitude towards the new public chain has taken a big turn. From the enthusiastic anticipation at the beginning to the extreme disappointment later, it may be some indifferent neglect.

Our views on the public chain have also been revised and have not been finalized yet. Based on the experience of the past few years, we can roughly figure out the reasons why some public chains cannot be implemented, but we still don’t know what the secrets of success in public chains can be.

One possible answer is that the new public chain must provide developers and users with new capabilities and benefits, rather than “better Ethereum.” The new public chain must achieve a breakthrough from 0 to 1, and optimization from 1 to 10 alone will not work.

Based on this consideration, we have been paying close attention to projects that focus on privacy computing. In this article, we infer that if blockchain can become a universal infrastructure one day, it must be an era when data has become an important asset for many entities and requires frequent transactions. To realize this long-term vision, privacy computing must be a big hole in the past and cannot be bypassed.

There are few public chain projects in the industry to fill this pit. The public chain is difficult to do, and the privacy calculation is even more difficult. The strength and resources of the Oasis Labs team are sufficient. Dawn Song is very influential in the academic world. The R&D team is mainly from Berkeley and raised $45 million from the beginning. Basically, the top funds in the industry are supporting it.

The start was very good. After more than two years of development, the Oasis mainnet is about to go live. For a public chain, the Long March has just begun.

Interview with the founder of Oasis Labs: We want to open up a new frontier of private computing, not a "better Ethereum"

“I just saw the news that you want to work with Balancer to port it to your mainnet?” I asked.

“Yes, it’s not just a simple transplant. We also want to see how Balancer can use the features of private computing to make some different functions. Our main network now supports EVM. If the DeFi application on Ethereum wants to migrate , The cost is quite low, and some simple contracts can be settled in one day. We had a hackathon a few days ago and migrated dozens of projects.” Dawn Song replied.

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This move is right. The new public chain pays more and more attention to connecting with the Ethereum ecosystem. After all, most of the resources, including users, technology, attention, ideas and developers, are in the Ethereum ecosystem. The Ethereum ecology is like the largest oasis city in the desert. The first thing every new city needs to do is to build a fast track to the Ethereum City, and then to attract investment to attract developers to do business. You have to actively solicit customers and greet users to come and play.

A more radical plan is to directly cooperate with big brands and spend money to invite them to move over, such as OasisNetwork and Balancer. The follow-up effect is currently not easy to evaluate.

During the hottest period of DeFi, many public chains also hope to help Ethereum share the load. It is true that some users have passed, but as far as I know, most of them have returned to the Ethereum ecosystem. Other public chains are indeed low in fees and not cards, but this advantage is not enough to make up for the loss of leaving the Ethereum ecosystem.

Unless the new public chain can do something different, such as DeFi with private computing capabilities. Before, everyone discussed the drawbacks of the DeFi world without privacy, such as front running and dark forest attacks. If there is a good solution that can run on Oasis Labs and solve these problems, it will be a good start.

However, the main battlefield of privacy computing is most likely not in DeFi, and it still depends on data assets.

Interview with the founder of Oasis Labs: We want to open up a new frontier of private computing, not a "better Ethereum"

“How did you work with Nebula Genomics?” I asked.

“In fact, it’s a coincidence. At first, this company wanted to do it on its own. Genetic data. They felt that users should be in charge of it. Only when they did it, they realized that it was too difficult to achieve. Then they found us and they had to do it by professional people. Professional things.” Dawn Song replied.

“It’s very interesting. In this cooperation, it is the merchants, not the consumers, who promote privacy protection. Of course, consumers must have such demands. But genetic data is still niche. What other data can be capitalized? ?”I say.

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“We feel that financial and medical data are still more reliable at this stage. We are talking about cooperation with institutions in both directions. For example, in finance, it may be cooperation with banks. Users can export their own consumption data and lend them to others on the Oasis Network. For companies that are willing to pay, the user’s data is safe throughout the process.” Dawn Song answered.

The privacy computing function of Oasis Network is currently mainly realized by TEE. Compared with other technical routes, such as MPC and zero-knowledge proof, the biggest advantage of TEE is that the computing performance is much better, and the practicality in business scenarios is also better. . Of course, there are costs. TEE relies more on the trust in Intel for security.

Two years ago, I would definitely feel that this would not work, and it was not “decentralized” enough. Now I feel that pragmatism is more effective than idealism when exploring the new world. If you must use TEE to run business logic in a real business environment, use it first, and then solve the hidden security problems when you encounter them. Otherwise, the idea of ​​data assets can only be floating in the air. The lack of real-world feedback is the last thing the public chain ecology wants to see.

Interview with the founder of Oasis Labs: We want to open up a new frontier of private computing, not a "better Ethereum"

“You should have experienced the early history of the Internet in 2000? Is there any difference between now and then?” I asked.

“Of course, I have experienced it earlier. I was studying at Tsinghua in the past nine years. At that time, I was in the school computer room. It was a bit of a privilege. But now you see, everyone has a mobile phone, and children can play iPad. I believe that people’s control of data will also go through such a process. At the beginning, due to technical or cost reasons, data is controlled and used by large companies. Ordinary people can’t help it at all, but slowly, mastering their own data will become one. This universal right is like owning your own computer.” Dawn Song said calmly but forcefully.

“This is inevitable.”

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