LANCASTER, LANCASHIRE, UK / ACCESSWIRE / June 14, 2020 / This is Gavin Wood. If you’re even mildly read up on crypto, you might know him as Dr. Gavin James Wood – the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Bitcoin’s closest competitor, Ethereum.
From Wood’s doctorate in computer science to designing the majority of the world’s first C++ language workbench, it’s fair to say that Wood has quite the resume. But when Bitcoin began to make headlines, it was with the computer visualization of music, not crypto, in which he was interested. It wouldn’t be until some seven years after the launch of Bitcoin that Wood co-founded the revolutionary Ethereum project with Vitalik Buterin. As its CTO responsible for delivering the technology, Wood invented the Ethereum Virtual Machine, specified in the Ethereum Yellow Paper he wrote. Wood also conceived its coding language, Solidity.
Having left Ethereum some years back, Dr. Gavin Wood has been busy, to say the least. His latest project, Polkadot, is looking set to achieve the equivalent of reinventing the crypto wheel, again.
The Polkadot story started with Parity Technologies – a core blockchain infrastructure for Ethereum and other Web 3.0 networks founded by Wood alongside Dr. Jutta Steiner, who served as Chief of Security for Ethereum’s launch. The aim was disruption – to shake up the centralized node-based software application standard. Originally named ‘EthCore’, as the team made up many of Wood’s core Ethereum development team, Parity centered around overcoming usability, performance and governance issues that had so far hampered the Ethereum ecosystem.
After developing and launching the Parity Ethereum client, which quickly became the go-to choice for Ethereum miners and developers alike, Wood and his team were looking to push the industry forward. Having coined the term Web 3.0 – otherwise known as the decentralized web – Dr. Wood soon founded the Web3 Foundation to support the development of the technologies necessary to achieve his vision. As Ethereum 2.0 research dragged on, Wood and his core development team determined that building a protocol to connect blockchains was a critical missing link in the Web 3.0 tech stack. If blockchain technology was going to provide the trust layer for a new, open internet without the powerful authorities like Google and Facebook who we currently trust with many of our interactions online, they were going to have to be able to communicate and scale.
The end result is Polkadot – a “sharded protocol that enables blockchain networks to operate together seamlessly.”
From forking to interoperability, Polkadot is taking aim at multiple problems that currently plague the blockchain space. “But don’t they all?!”, I hear you ask.
It’s true – there are plenty of blockchains that have gone before this that profess to be a magic wand.
It seems, however, that Polkadot genuinely does provide innovative answers to many of these issues. Like providing true interoperability by enabling cross-blockchain transfers of any type of data or asset (not just tokens, like existing blockchain interoperability solutions).
Polkadot will also make blockchain innovation faster and easier – developers can create a custom blockchain in minutes using the Substrate framework. It is described as “forkless and future-proof” meaning networks can be upgraded and bugs can be fixed without hard forks while maintaining security for all. Chains connected to Polkadot are called parachains, which are united in their security but distinct when it comes to their local governance and operations. Unlike networks like Bitcoin, where governance is unformalized and fairly opaque, every stakeholder has a voice in Polkadot’s future – upgrades to the network are coordinated on-chain and enacted autonomously, ensuring that Polkadot’s development reflects the values of the community and avoids stagnation.
The DOT Token’s Use in the Polkadot Network
The DOT token plays a few critical roles in the Polkadot network – governance, staking and bonding.
Governance is usually a privilege for miners alone who hold total control over the protocol. Polkadot, on the other hand, passes control to its token holders instead.
Second, staking is a feature that may have been positively influenced by Gavin’s hobbies, which included a love for designing highly complex board games. Today, staking in Polkadot uses advanced game theory to effectively encourage network infrastructure operators to behave honestly. Good actors are rewarded, whilst bad actors lose some of their stake in the network – keeping the network secure.
Finally, new parachains are added by bonding tokens. Outdated or non-useful parachains are removed by removing bonded tokens. To pass messages between parachains, tokens will also be used to pay for transaction fees.
Life Before Polkadot
Prior to Polkadot, companies of all sorts were developing their own private sidechains, followed swiftly by a headache when attempting to connect their project to Ethereum’s public blockchain. This issue has stunted innovation in crypto and beyond for far too long.
With Polkadot’s arrival, there is now a protocol to act as an interchange and translator between the work of these creative coders, and the Ethereum blockchain – a goal deemed so important, that it raised $145 million back in 2017 through a public sale of half the total 10 million supply of DOT tokens.
At the time, Ryan Zurrer, a partner in Polychain Capital, one of the private investors, told TechCrunch: “Polkadot is a crucial infrastructure element of Gav Wood’s vision for Web3 and represents the most technically ambitious endeavor we have ever seen in blockchain. Realistically, only the deep and extraordinarily talented team from Parity, led by Jutta Steiner, have the technical chops to pull something like this off.”
Fast-forward three years, and those ‘technical chops’ have indeed pulled something off – something that has once again caught the attention of savvy investors.
So, Where Next for Gavin Wood and Polkadot?
Polkadot has lofty aspirations, which are in its sights as the Web3 Foundation officially initiated its launch at the start of this week.
But as lofty as the ambition of linking up blockchains might be, this goal seems absolutely attainable, given Wood’s resume and the talented team by his side.
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