Opinion: Libra takes a step forward, but not necessarily laughs at the end

[Editor's Note] On July 2, 2019, I was invited to attend the Shanghai Symposium on the Impact of Libra and China's Countermeasures. The following is my share of the theme roundtable forum in the "Technology Perspective of Libra Coin". The text content has been slightly adjusted.

Q: How do you view Libra's white paper from a technical perspective?

Hu Zhen: First of all, I throw a question. Why is Libra going to be an Internet company like Facebook? Is this one of the top 10 Internet giants in the world, not a blockchain company at home and abroad? This question requires everyone to think about it. The result may be in line with my judgment in previous years, but this may subvert the inherent impression of many blockchain industry players that Internet companies are unlikely to participate in the blockchain revolution.

The future, including the current participation in the entire blockchain industry, may have three forces. The first party is the traditional blockchain company; the second party cannot actually ignore the fact that the current Internet giants, including the Internet Unicorn Platform, have been established. After the blockchain laboratory department, they have the advantage of industry resources and flow resources, and also have excellent technical and product teams. Third-party forces, we can not ignore central banks and financial institutions , they are new to technology, including blockchain, encryption. The digital currency is actually being tracked and researched.

Many people are very surprised that Facebook will launch Libra, but I have a judgment in the past few years: sooner or later, an Internet giant will be the first to release a hugely influential encrypted digital currency project. Just as Facebook became a leader, I believe that there will be follow-up actions like Google, Ali, Tencent, Baidu, JD.com and other Internet unicorn platforms at home and abroad.

Technically, I have also analyzed the technical white papers and technical details of this project. For me, there may be two points that are more curious and more interesting.

The first is its claimed LibraBFT consensus mechanism , which is based on the improved HotStuff consensus algorithm released by VMWare and renamed LibraBFT. The classic BFT consensus algorithm is known as the Byzantine fault-tolerant algorithm. Most classical BFT algorithms need to broadcast all nodes when performing the master node change (viewe change), which brings the complexity of the square level. The improved version of HotStuff's BFT consensus mechanism minimizes node interaction. For example, there are 100 nodes. When the traditional BFT consensus mechanism is used for the general election, 100 squares, that is, 10,000 interactions are required. If there are 1000 nodes, then it requires one million interactions. . This is a very surprising expense for the entire network. Facebook's consensus mechanism has improved this block by reducing the overall interaction complexity from square to linear.

The second is the programming language that Facebook calls Move . This is similar to the solidity smart contract language that is currently common on Ethereum, but it also has different positioning. It can be considered that Move is a DSL (domain-specific language) that focuses on digital asset management, rather than a smart contract in the general sense. Programming language, and does not have complete Turing completeness. From the naming of the Move language, as the name implies, resources can only be moved, but not copied or deleted. The resources here refer to so-called digital assets or tokens. Resources can only be transferred and can only be passed through the module. The procedure calls the operation resource. Move is still a static language, not a dynamic language. In addition, further technical details of the Move language are yet to be further announced and open sourced by Facebook.

Q: Can Facebook's technology system support Facebook's ambitions, ideals or vision?

Hu Zhen: The first thing I knew about Facebook was probably at the end of 2017. At that time, my colleagues who had heard from Facebook talked about the innovative projects in Facebook.

First, Libra is the structure of the alliance chain , which is completely different from the public chain such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. In other words, the gameplay of the alliance chain and the public chain are two completely different ways of playing, and two sets of completely different ways of thinking, including the governance mechanism and economic incentives are also very different. We can see that Libra's entire governance is actually biased towards the traditional corporate governance approach, which means that 100 nodes are selected globally. This node has a very high barrier to entry, such as having A certain amount of revenue and registered capital. This is a completely different way of playing with the public chain. The nodes joining and exiting on the public chain are completely open and free to come and go.

My own experience before is more in the public chain. Relatively speaking, the entire design of the public chain, more to consider in the untrusted environment, the user's free access and exit, in this case the entire technology The difficulty of implementing the system is greater than that of the alliance chain, which is the difference between the license chain and the non-licensed chain.

Second, the blockchain is more dependent on the entire network communication environment . Why has the PC Internet, mobile Internet, and blockchain developed particularly fast in China in the last decade? Because we have the best network communication infrastructure in the world, we have excellent communication equipment vendors such as Huawei and ZTE. We also have the top ten telecom operators in the world in terms of scale and number of users. China is also the de facto 5G. The dominant force of technology and standards, and this is precisely a disadvantage of European and American countries . At the same time, this also poses a challenge for China's Internet giants. If our mobile Internet includes blockchain business to expand overseas, then we need to consider the disadvantages of insufficient network communication coverage. At this time, we may reflect the area. The importance of the strategy all the way.

I was a communication industry in my early years, and later transformed into Internet technology. In the past few years, I have transformed into a blockchain. In every transition, I feel that the industry I have done before has a lot of help and inspiration for the industry I am working on.

Although this time, Libra took a step forward, but the first one is not necessarily the last laugh. For the Chinese Internet industry and the blockchain field, there is still a chance to be on the track. There is a lot of innovation in this area, including business models and landing applications. I am still very confident about China's Internet and blockchain industry. For example, in terms of mobile payment, although our Alipay and WeChat payment started earlier than PayPal, the recognized originator of the third-party payment field, we are now killing several streets of PayPal in terms of business innovation and user experience.

Of course, for our peers, there must be a sense of urgency. Although Libra is a global project, it is obvious that it is relatively exclusive to China. Either Chinese companies join the project, but Americans are not fools. Now US policymakers regret that China is allowed to join the WTO in 2001. They will worry that Chinese companies and institutions will occupy the final say in the Libra network. Then if you can't join this project, then we will do it ourselves.

Q: How do you view Ma Huateng's evaluation of Libra?

Hu Zhen: In fact, this question can be compared with WeChat payment and Q coins and Facebook Libra. Libra wants to be a payment platform, and also wants to realize the clearing function as a billing unit. This is a lack of WeChat payment and Alipay, because our existing mobile payment still needs to rely on the underlying clearing system of the legal currency. But once we pay Q coins and WeChat, or get through with Alipay, this is actually what Facebook wants to do. In addition, the three basic functions of traditional currency are as payment means, bookkeeping unit and stored value tool. The digital currency with complete functions in the future may be the legal digital currency issued by the central bank. Others cannot have this at the same time. Three basic functions.

Original link: Hu Zhen: Libra takes a step forward, but not necessarily laughs at the end