In 2015, Vitalik Buterin in Ethereum whitepaper put forward an exciting concept of “World Computer.” Nowadays, Ethereum has become the world’s most active and largest smart contract platform. To be sure, Vitalik did not deliberately guide the evolution of the blockchain community and technology applications. However, the Turing-complete nature of Ethereum has incubated infinite possibilities. While Vitalik focuses more on how much value and influence the applications running on Ethereum will bring, rather than on having Ethereum become the worldwide settlement layer and decentralization engine of smart contracts; the rapid development of applications such as Defi on Ethereum has been far beyond his expectations.
Ethereum has so far been criticized for its expensive gas fees and slow transaction speed. At present, the characteristics of blockchain technology itself do not have a perfect solution to various problems. Both Ethereum and Bitcoin are accused of high energy consumption, and mining activities are restricted in certain countries. But still, the industry continuously attracts people to learn and invest, why is that?
From Bitcoin, Ethereum to Filecoin, and the SINSO project, what is the meaning and goal of the existence of the blockchain, and what is the mission of each project?
These are the topics worthy of discussion.
The Bitcoin network based on blockchain technology has strong defense capabilities and robustness. Even if some of its characteristics and performances were sacrificed in some scenarios, blockchain technology cannot be precluded from bringing to human civilization the light of hope. Blockchain has been utilized by many unbanked people around the world. For these disadvantaged groups, the applications of blockchain have provided livelihoods. Especially in those troubled areas where wars are taking place, blockchain has produced positive effects.
Blockchain solves the problem of “trust” under a decentralized architecture.
The common sense of economics tells us that the efforts to protect property rights will consume resources. The greater the consumption, the lower the net value of those resources. The blockchain implements its logic of property rights protection through programs and algorithms by consuming a certain amount of electricity to protect property rights. For example, the SHA256 algorithm is the first time that humans have used code to defend their assets. Whereas common people think that Bitcoin consumes too much energy, the seemingly meaningless part of the SHA256 algorithm is actually its greatest significance. Compared to the factional in-fighting caused by human distrust, the power consumed by SHA 256 is nothing. Some statisticians have calculated that since World War II, there have been only 26 consecutive peaceful days without war in the world. Although the initial stage of the blockchain resulted in a certain amount of energy consumption and waste, it is still far better than the war and loss caused by human beings killing each other.
If great efforts are made to protect property rights, the net worth of the resources will drop rapidly. For example, Singapore has a higher net resource value than Ethiopia. Ethiopia has a much larger land area than Singapore, but has a lower net resource value than the latter, why is that? Because Singapore has a clearer and more credible law to protect property rights. Although Ethiopia has more natural resources, the relative instability of the legal and political systems has caused more losses and frictions in property rights protection, and soon Ethiopia will lose its absolute advantage in resources. As we can see, there are many poor countries with a vast territories. Yet only with efforts to protect property rights, can we create amazing value on a finite land territory.
In various industries, the internal friction caused by trust costs has resulted in huge waste. A well-known American medical expert pointed out that if doctors and patients in America have full trust, at least 50% of the waste can be reduced. We know that America already spends nearly a fifth of its GDP on health care, thus it can be seen how huge the medical waste caused by distrust is huge. The more consumption reduced by social moral norms, the more social wealth will be. If human capital can be destroyed at will, people will not actively accumulate their expertise, and laziness and ignorance will become the norm in the world. Because social morality has great uncertainty, we cannot hope that the evolution of the traditions of human society can match the modern civilization of science and technology. We can see that the blockchain has great revolutionary significance in the current era and maybe the best solution to prevent mankind from gradually falling into the “abyss”.
Although blockchain technology is developing rapidly, it is still a relatively new field compared to other industries.
Humans have accumulated hundreds of years of experience in the field of electrification and aviation. Once they master certain laws, they will be attentive to exploring the practical values of these matters. An incandescent light bulb in the sixth fire station in Livermore, California, USA has not been replaced for more than 100 years, which shows that technology in its iterations will continue to incubate phased practical products, but it doesn’t mean that the initial technology can not bring value. In the field of blockchain, Ethereum, along with other similar public chains, has got proficient in the issuance of tokens and Defi DApps since 2016. But at this stage, it is still far from the concept of Ethereum’s “World Computer”.
At present, most of the data is still centralized. Though probably it did never occur to us that centralized storage is inappropriate for the modern world or during the development of the Internet, there are more and more signs showing the importance of data assets to the future of the world. The financial assets are represented by Bitcoin, Israeli historian Yuval. Harari explained in great depth: “The product of the 21st-century economy is not the factory, the car, the weapon, but the human body, the brain, the mind. What will the future owner of this planet be like? It all depends on who owns the data in the future. Those who control the data not only control the future, but also the future of life. Because data will become the most valuable asset in the future world.”
There is a very important part that needs to be addressed — “on-chain storage”.
Though in 2014, Ethereum has proposed the concept of storage space, it is too difficult to realize it on a large scale due to imitations of Ethereum’s current technical architecture. Currently, even if you need to store a small volume of 0.5M data, you will have to pay sky-high gas fees, with no guarantee that you can succeed.
With data, not only can productivity be advanced, but there will also be a great possibility that life itself can be transformed, which will lead humans to fall into the curse of “digital dictatorship”. Individuals are increasingly unable to fight against chaebols and big data companies. The development of “digital dictatorship” is still creating ignorance and widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The supervision of data ownership is not an easy task, and blockchain technology will face huge challenges.
Decentralized data storage and data ownership are actually related to the fate of mankind.
One striking question is “Does the data collected about my DNA, my brain, and my life belongs to me, or do they belong to governments, corporations, or human communities?” Using data algorithms to make genetic weapons could be easy in the future — with enough samples, the algorithms aren’t really that complicated.
We look to laws to protect individuals’ ownership of data; And, in doing so, to facilitate the private exchange of that data. When data rights can be exchanged, data can be integrated. This is exactly the same model for managing physical assets. If private property rights cannot be exchanged, assets cannot be integrated, and society as a whole stagnates. But laws and democracy even in the developed world also have bottlenecks — we’d like to think that stories of politicians giving big data companies all sorts of easy and green access are only in the movies or just anecdotal information.
Some people believe that putting data in centralized storage is the most efficient way, and ordinary people do not need to worry about their privacy. However, Hayek clearly saw these disadvantages and proposed that the “Private property system is the most important guarantee of freedom”. Since data is the most important asset of human beings in the future, it is urgent to guarantee the technical paradigm of data privatization and confirmation. This is the time when we need to deeply align defending the ownership of data with championing the freedom of human destiny. By now, we have to clarify the relationship between data and data assets.
In 2017, Filecoin was founded under the company of Juan Benett — the Protocol labs. Before Filecoin, Protocol Labs had already accumulated a lot of technologies, the most important being the IPFS — Interplanetary File System. The epoch-making contribution made by IPFS is to compete with “HTTP”.
As we know, the biggest drawback of the “HTTP” protocol is centralization, which often leads to situations when data on the Internet is erased permanently as files are deleted. IPFS is based on the P2P network — the data built on IPFS is difficult to be restricted, and the Internet will be more open. IPFS establishes a CID specification. A content identifier or CID is a self-describing content-addressable identifier. It does not indicate where the content is stored but forms an address based on the content itself. The number of characters in the CID depends on the cryptographic hash of the underlying content, not the size of the content itself. CID is very suitable for combining with smart contracts to build “programmable data sets”. IPFS is a big paradigm shift in storage. Since the birth of the Internet, it is playing a role in enlightening human civilization. Since the Rwanda genocide in 1994, there has been no large-scale public massacre around the world. The dissemination of information on the Internet has already monitored and restrained human behavior in many aspects. At present, participants in modern warfare are also very afraid of condemnation from the Internet. But this traditional Internet is not perfect, and IPFS is a key change.
Filecoin has a well-known project — Starling Lab, the project researches how to use IPFS technology to “prevent human tampering with history.” During the 78 days between the 2020 US election and the 2021 presidential inauguration, Thomson Reuter’s photographers used IPFS & Filecoin to upload\store and retrieve photos of relevant events. These records are transparent and immutable, providing an irrefutable and permanent record of this period in American history. There’s also “genocide testimony” — Filecoin is keeping records of hundreds of witnesses’ testimony from around the world before and after massacres. From Holocaust survivors to today’s calamities, these testimonies ensure that we will never forget. Unless we learn from it, history will always repeat itself.
Inspired by Ethereum, Filecoin builds a storage incentive layer on top of IPFS. Filecoin has three important jobs to do. 1) Proof of Time and Space: Verify that the file is stored intact and has not been tampered with within a given period of time; 2) Proof of Replication: Verify the agreed number of backups that store the file; 3) Verifiability: The Filecoin global blockchain can verify proofs and automatically correct errors when necessary. With the Filecoin network, anyone can be a storage provider, and economies of scale can be achieved through completion, which is also why Filecoin is referred to as the “Airbnb in the storage field”.
Filecoin is not designed to benchmark AWS storage per se, although it can do this, Web2.0 can not conclude what Filecoin is all about. Filecoin has become the world’s largest zk-SNARK (zero-knowledge proof algorithm) deployment network. Zero-knowledge proofs have long been part of the Filecoin network and will continue to be a key part of its future evolution. As more and more data is stored, maintained, and accessed on Filecoin, the ecosystem needs to continue to provide efficient, cost-effective, and secure authentication solutions. Zero-knowledge proof is a game-changer for the Filecoin network, reducing the complex validation processes to a fraction of their original size without compromising security, credibility, or confidence. Although we may not be as familiar with these providers as we are with the well-known centralized storage providers, we can trust the design of Filecoin’s protocol and implementation, which in turn provides Filecoin with the ability to verify that the storage miners adhere to their protocols.
Centralized storage may keep costs low on a small scale, but as the Filecoin network scales, it has a lower marginal cost. The Filecoin network has created an excellent example. At the same time, storage is priced in a market-oriented way to meet various needs in the storage field. Although the incentive pricing model is still in its infancy, it will be more flexible in the future. Combined with FVM, a more flexible pricing model will emerge in the storage market. FVM can also be designed to integrate storage and computing, which is unique in the world — we normally compute data in chains. Next, Filecoin will integrate smart contracts and storage. With FVM, you can open up the Filecoin. energy dashboard and help support the Energy Web Zero platform for purchasing renewable energy. We must believe that the Pareto optimal economic model can only be constructed in a fully market-oriented way.
We now complain about Filecoin’s efficiency just as we did in the early days of the discovery of electricity. Written in ancient Egyptian books, those discharging fish were called the “Thunder messengers of the Nile.” Some 2,500 years later, naturalists, doctors, and others in Greece, Rome, and later Arabia were still baffled by the powerful electric shocks emitted by electric catfish and Mediterranean rays, according to records. Some doctors thought that touching the discharged animals could cure headaches. Many people still think of Filecoin the way ancient doctors thought of electricity. Filecoin is still in its early stage of the application and has not been fully understood, and we still lack the tools to make good use of it.
Although the Filecoin community is already relatively strong, we are not satisfied with the status quo. When we look at Filecoin in terms of ecological application deployment, we see a lot of imperfections, but also great potential and opportunities. In April 2021, Filecoin announced that it had completed the construction of capacity, demonstrating that the Filecoin ecosystem no longer needs only storage providers, but also a large number of ecosystem application builders. For Filecoin, there is too much middleware to build. It is these middlewares that build complete web 3.0 applications.
Different from other blockchain projects, Filecoin can integrate Web2.0 and Web3.0 and can carry traditional APP and DAPP at the same time.
Of course, we believe that the DAPP has greater value. Of course, DAPP needs not only technology but also supporting business models and incentive models. DAPP will not develop and grow for no reason, especially if the traditional industries are to quickly open up the market in Web3.0. Not only the technical level but also the revolution of concept and business model is needed. Bury the seeds of Web3.0 now in the soil that can nurture Web3.0. Sometimes we don’t need to rush for success. At the right time, when spring and rain come, the seeds of Web3.0 can germinate and grow. Decentralized storage is extremely important to the blockchain world. It expands the boundaries of the blockchain and injects new energy into the blockchain world so that the market share of the blockchain can rapidly grow. While cost reduction is not a priority right now, the key is that Filecoin can also satisfy the immersive experience of DAPPs at this stage. We don’t have to worry about SLA (service level) reliability metrics. With a transparent reputation system, we can find storage providers that are as reliable as AWS or better. One of the biggest obstacles is efficiency.
Back in 2018 when SINSO’s predecessor technology team tried to store genetic data on the InterPlanetary File System, they developed middleware for optimizing file stream upload and the access efficiency, and to avoid the upload failure of large file blocks. At the time we thought that IPFS was still purely a file storage protocol and not yet prepared for large-scale commercialization. But Filecoin storage network faces future enterprise-level storage, which is an important web3.0 infrastructure. Currently, with over 17 exabytes of storage capacity across the web, Filecoin is poised for commercialization.
However, at this stage, a lot of work needs to be done and lots of middleware to be developed to prepare DAPPs for receiving Filecoin since the adoption of algorithms such as space-time proof has compromised efficiency for stability and integrity.
The first component SINSO works on is SINSO Getway.
As a distributed high-speed cache network, SINSO Getway is built for current use scenarios required by Gamefi, VR, AR, video streaming, as well as high-speed CDN and DAPP response and enables users to quickly interact with the Filecoin storage network. In addition to ensuring decentralization, user data privacy, and security, SINSO Getway meanwhile focuses on improving efficiency. With wide applications in the Metaverse ecology, it is the key infrastructure contributing to the Filecoin ecosystem by seamlessly integrating data and smart contracts.
While the mission of Filecoin is to store high-value data for human beings, SINSO Getway conducts data sorting, rough processing, and pretreatment before data is stored in Filecoin. For a DAPP, Filecoin cannot be called directly as a hard disk partition or object storage — Filecoin has its own complete data encapsulation logic such as “space-time proof”. For DAPP, Filecoin is still on a rather “remote side”.
SINSO Getway acts as a distributed “Edge Storage”. We consider smart home, health monitoring wearables, car networking, AR, industrial IoT, and smart transportation as scenarios that require “Edge Storage”. The first and foremost feature of these scenarios is the need for close interaction with DAPPs as a key to an immersive experience. Thus from the very beginning, SINSO Getway has taken the experience brought by storage efficiency into consideration and built a distributed hot data layer. Given the fact that hot data accounts for about 63% of the global IP data flow, it isn’t hard to see the significance of SINSO Getway.
First of all, the hot data layer uses CID (Content Identifier) method to ensure the same content consistency as cold data. Especially in the process involving the transfer of cross-chain assets, the consistency of metadata can be ensured. These features are particularly significant for the NFT trading and GameFi. More and more NFT projects are considering the security of data assets. The potential market of NFT and Gamefi has exceeded $200 billion. Only when the ownership of on-chain data can be truly confirmed can the transaction parties feel at ease.
Secondly, with the increasing quantity and type of NFT, GameFi and NFT projects facing great pressure to store explosive data volumes, many projects have to use centralized storage, or IPFS proprietary nodes and third party services in order to enhance the customer experience. SINSO Getway offers a solution that balances efficiency and decentralization. We need to ensure a thoroughly consistent decentralized architecture for DAPPs throughout data access and interaction. The Filecoin network is a storage resource pool for many public chains, and SINSO Getway can be a bridge that allows more projects to use Filecoin’s storage resources.
After we use Filecoin to store resources, our next task is to govern data.
There are two issues behind data governance here: 1. In the process of migrating from web2.0 to web3.0, incentivize each project contributor; 2. Conduct programmable expansion for data. The development of FVM will offer solutions to these two problems: First, FVM will greatly add transaction types to Filecoin storage orders, allowing Filecoin to truly adapt to various enterprise-level storage needs. Meanwhile, we can use FVM to manage Data DAOs.
In response to the first issue of data governance, SINSO proposed the framework of Donors Network, which enables all parties involved in web3.0 projects to coordinate resources. For example, the participants are differentiated by roles like data owner, data producer, and resource provider — The Filecoin network has no more detailed role division. In the real world, when productivity starts to slow down, the development of cooperative relationships will often bring important empowerment.
We see a polarized society where rich people like Elon Musk are reluctant to donate to the United Nations — that’s what mistrust leads to — he can’t make sure the resources are put to good use.
SINSO Donors Network chooses to completely solve these problems through a trustless mechanism. From this perspective, SINSO not only provides SDK to solve the problem of data transmission efficiency but also further optimizes the construction of the Web3.0 project partnership. Following the principle of “Build-Web3.0-to-Earn”, we make it possible for more people to contribute to the Web3.0 world. Besides, our product SINSO DAPP cube creates an application R&D ecosystem that other project teams can join, through which the contribution of the original team behind each software module will be respected and protected. We strive to turn SINSO into an open R&D ecosystem. At present, technical contributors around the world have got ready, and some have joined us as technical advisors. Whether the tech volunteers are in India, the UK, or Austria, we are one tech family.
Filecoin is a huge technical base that spans from the web2.0 to the web3.0 ecosystem. For all those who want to try to build web3.0 applications, there is no need to demand that they can make brilliant works from the beginning. All that is needed is the accumulation of expertise day by day. The next thing SINSO needs to do is to unite, link, and inspire. We should use an open mind to let more people join.
The road to Web 3.0 is not yet defined, but its future depends on the doers and young people of our time.
When global international relations are becoming increasingly tense and ignorant wars are frequent; famines and food crises begin to appear; when social justice is increasingly threatened, and some people’s freedoms will be plundered; we should be warned that the curtain call for the industrial and internet economy will be bleaker than the afterglow of the setting sun. And we will focus on the current infrastructure to create a better world with a strong vision for Web3.0.
Moreover, what Web3.0 creates is never “warm sunshine”, but “lightning and thunderstorms”. In Earth’s history, only lightning and volcanoes could create new marine life. SINSO will be the builder of Web3.0 and witness its development. Let’s work together!