Mainstream adoption for Web3 will not happen without innovative scaling solutions. Today, effective scaling is more important than ever with the exponential growth in protocols and applications across all layers of Web3.
In a keynote presentation titled Multi-Chain Autonomy: Contracts with Keys, Oasis Technical Product Manager Harry Roberts explains one vision for mitigating scaling troubles through smart autonomous contracts. This article provides a condensed overview of key takeaways and quotations from the presentation.
Multi-Chain Scalability: Problems and Potential Solutions
There are significant challenges of scalability within the blockchain space. Instead of seeking to create a single "ultra mega" blockchain, a more practical and realistic approach would be the intercommunication and interaction among various blockchain networks. This would ensure a robust, fault-tolerant and more valuable ecosystem than a single chain could provide.
“I think smart contracts should be smarter.”
Effective Communication Between Nodes
The critical role of effective communication among nodes in blockchain networks is something to focus on. According to Metcalfe's law and Erlang's distribution theorem, the total value of the network grows proportionally to the square of the node count. This leads to both an increase in communication and potential for errors. Understanding these dynamics can help in the development of more efficient and reliable blockchain systems.
“This means that while cryptography means integrity, we only know what nodes tell us.”
Tools for Trustworthy Computation
Sapphire, a confidential EVM secured by the Oasis Network, can help create this trustworthiness. Unlike other confidential EVMs, Sapphire uses a verifiable compute layer with a secure isolated key manager, enabling smart contracts to act independently, securely, and with no message passing overhead. This can provide greater trust, reliability, and programmability in blockchain transactions.
“We [Sapphire] don’t have one key to secure the world, we have our own key manager and every single contact has to request to decrypt stuff.”
Reduce State Updates to Improve Efficiency
Blockchain networks can rapidly increase their efficiency by reducing the number of state updates and using proofs, trust summarization, and statelessness. This means that the network does not have to agree so often on what is being updated. This kind of approach can also help sidestep common issues like communication errors, which materially improves the scalability and reliability of these systems.
“Realistically, we need to try to make some shortcuts to overcome the problem of everything being connected to everything.”
Evolution of Smart Autonomous Contracts
Smart autonomous contracts may be the next step in blockchain evolution. These contracts can operate across multiple chains, sign their own transactions and handle complex tasks, as well as provide a level of finality and safety and potentially simplify protocols. However, it's important to note that the building blocks to make smart autonomous contracts a reality are not fully in place yet, and their development would require a shift in the current design mindset from smart contracts to smart autonomous contracts.
“It’s the beginning of autonomous contracts. Hopefully, they’ll scale. Hopefully, they’ll be everywhere.”
Watch the full presentation embedded below.