From the founding of EOS, to blockchain interest from executives and governmental fear of it, Strongblock.io CEO David Moss shares his uniquely qualified perspectives that reveal excitement and optimism amid the uncertainty of an ecosystem in its infancy.
The interview was conducted and written by Pat Larsen, CEO at ZenLedger.io.
With well over 700 ICOs already in the books in 2018 and the markets for cryptocurrency as volatile as ever, one has to wonder what puts EOS at the top of its ICO class in 2018 and why it recently earned the top spot in China’s blockchain rankings above Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others.
David Moss is among those who have a unique inside perspective on what separates EOS from other cryptocurrencies. He is the co-founder and CEO of Strongblock.io (which is still in a stealth mode), and previously led tech operations at Block.one, and after leaving Block.one where he helped lead was involved in the Go Vote for taking the main net live and launching EOS. He shared details with me about the actual Go Vote:
“That was just amazing. That process was exhausting, but you have probably seen some of the videos out there where there wereas 200 of us on a video call, oneI think Friday, June 8th or something like that we got a Go Vote. Let’s go, let’s take the mainnet live. Just an exhilarating time, and an extraordinary group of people, and it came together without any compensation, hoping to be Block producers because it’s kind of like the old movie Highlander, there could be only 21. Then there’s stand-by’s, and with 20 to 30 stand-by’s you’re out of the money after about 50 Block producers.”
Block producers are responsible for key transactions that determine the stability of the EOS ecosystem. These include collecting transactions in the network, validating and packaging transactions into the blocks, and broadcasting blocks to other block producers. Moss shared more about EOS’s system.
“It’s 21 Block producers in a kind of a Round Robin rotationthing. If you look at this eosnetworkmonitor.io, you’ll see that happening. At any given time, one Block producer is the lead. They’re writing the Block, and then the other 20 are witnessing it, and then it just keeps rotating around to all of them. They’re just writing the data as it comes in, and then the other 20 are witnessing that data as it comes in. That’s exactly how delegated proof of stake should work.”
Two of the more promising, though more speculative and controversial characteristics of EOS, are that it plans to completely remove transaction fees, and could potentially have the ability to conduct millions of transactions per second. Moss shared that the mainnet record to date was just under 4,000 transactions per second, and while it may not be millions per second, this is still at least 100 times faster than anything else. Moss reacted to speed theories and other factors at play.
“That was a lot of hyperbole early on. I think what we’re really looking at is, there are some physical limitations, like the speed of light, how fast can you transmit to each of the different Block producers around the world? That runs at about 400 to 500 milliseconds. Then, you’ve got the actual way that the code is written. The code is written as a single-threaded, single-state machine. It is written in C++ being compiled down to WebAssembly or Wasm. Because of the way that it works on a mainnet, you can only go so fast due to how fast Wasm can execute each individual next command coming in in a serial fashion, not in a parallel fashion. Then, you can only execute as fast as the speed of light will let you.”
Even early on, the transaction speeds that EOS enables puts it in a unique position. While companies may feel safer, even now, building off of more mature currencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, they can be put in a bad position when heavy transaction traffic can mean it takes days to have block acknowledged and drive up transaction costs. Moss shared the reality that these companies had to face.
“If you look out there right now, the three top most used blockchains are BitShares, Steemit, and EOS. It’s because nobody’s really using any of these things yet. Either they’re running on private forks of ethereum or private forks of whatever they can get, or even private forks of BitShares or Steemit, or they’re just tentatively dipping their toe in the water on EOS. It just wasn’t ready.
If you were doing an ICO last year, about an app that you were developing, and you didn’t have the team on there that could build something like EOS, then most likely you’d be fitting yourself for an orange jumpsuit, because there’s no way you could actually build it.”
Enterprise and Government: Conservative and Afraid
We got into how companies are thinking about blockchain and to their confidence in it. Moss noted an important 2018 survey from Deloitte, “Breaking blockchain open” that surveyed over 1,000 executives from ‘blockchain savvy’ firms. Among its findings, Deloitte concluded that “while 78 percent of our survey respondents believe they stand to lose competitive advantage if they do not eventually implement blockchain, they see a variety of obstacles moving forward, with a full one-third saying they believe their current return on investment in blockchain technology remains ‘uncertain.’”
Moss shared a story about a recent trip abroad to talk through the challenges of not just incorporating cryptocurrency into daily life, but to go completely cashless. Moss shares how such a system would require stronger, safer, and more pervasive use of hardware and software to support it.
“Some things can’t be automated. You get back to the point, well, there’s some things where just cash has to change hands. You’re sitting out there, ready to get on a boat or whatever, and they don’t have a card reader or anything else like that. They can take cash, and they’ve got change for cash. You’re going to valet to go to a restaurant, and most of them don’t take credit or debit cards. They take cash. Would they take bitcoin? Well, okay, let me transmit this to you. It really depends on phones and other technology. The best wallet we have right now is actually your phone, and so putting a wallet onto a phone is the obvious example. How do you make it secure when people’s phones get hacked all the time?”
Regarding the political and governmental use, speaking hypothetically, people quickly surface reasons for not just hesitation, but fear. From the lack of regulation and control, considering how to deal with crime and illegal activity, to economic considerations, there are endless reasons for governments to tread carefully.
“How does a government shutdown subversion? How does a government shutdown crime? We’ve opened Pandora’s box on decentralized blockchain. We can’t shut it down.”
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect about talking with Moss was his general optimism and excitement for what lies ahead, which flew right in the face of the anecdotes rooted in what can only be regarded as uncertainty. His informed but checked perspective was summarized perfectly in how he left me, which was with a story that a friend had told him recently:
“You know, in Africa, when a gazelle is born, it literally drops down there, and literally starts walking and running? The blockchain is nothing like that. The blockchain is a baby in the neo-natal intensive care unit. It’s on life support, and it’s gonna get out of there soon, and it’s gonna be a healthy child and adult. Right now, it’s really early days, and it’s not a gazelle that started running on the Savannah. We’re not there yet.”