IoTeX Tech AMA — September 28, 2018

Q1: IoTeX is delivering world-changing infrastructure at an incredibly fast pace and that is amazing. But some people may be concerned that such rushing may impose a great possibility of more bugs in the system. Will there be strenuous stress testings before running the final version of mainnet? If so, will there be any incentives to run nodes to expand and do better testings? What would be the minimum nodes count to achieve effective testing environment?

A: IoTeX has a detailed two-phase plan for testing the final version of the mainnet. In the first phase, the team will conduct intensive internal testing to fix bugs and improve reliability, followed by testing by our community, strategic partners, and developers. Closer to the end of the year, we will open our Testnet to the public, allowing anyone to create a node/port over existing applications and smart contracts, which will help us identify edge cases and other security risks.

The concrete testing plan and bounty program will be announced when the preview-version of the maninnet is ready.

Q2. A personal question for the head of cryptography is Xinxin Fan.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) — technology that enables such functionality for IoT. We see that the industrial sector is currently the largest global RFID market, followed by transportation, retail, healthcare, and education. Using RFID reduces the likelihood of an item being out of stock by 60%–80%, according to ABI Research. RFID brings big dividends: sales lift, inventory, reduce theft, cost savings and etc.

Direct questions:

  1. What do you think will be the driver of IoT or RFID development? Will IoTeX be closer to data that is running on IoT or RFID?

2. Do you agree with this statement? “True digital transformation cannot be achieved until companies tag all of the physical assets within their facilities with RFID transponders — and the real value of the Internet of Things will not be realized until companies embrace RFID”

You have a lot of theoretical knowledge and a lot of scientific work in this field. It is very interesting to hear your vision of this situation. Thank you!

A: Thanks for your questions and kind words! To answer your questions separately:

  1. As you have mentioned, RFID technology does have a lot of applications across different industry sectors, in particular for the supply chain management and product anti-counterfeiting. The driver of IoT or RFID development in the industry lies in how they can help a business to improve its processes in a cost-effective manner. IoTeX aims to build an advanced blockchain platform for large-scale IoT applications, which of course includes the IoT use cases with RFID technology.
  2. This statement is not completely correct. While RFID is able to help companies digitizes their physical assets, it might not be suitable for all the applications and use cases. RFID technology covers a wide range of low-power wireless communication techniques and each category of RFIDs has its only limitation and application scenarios. Whether RFID is the right solution for an application depends on multiple factors such as application environment, transmission range, cost, etc. Companies need to conduct a careful evaluation before determining whether they should embrace RFID.

Q3: I love that you guys incentivized people and tested the testnet in this fashion which led to few minor bugs I believe that will be solved. Other projects tend to only show numbers and testnet in theory while it is much much better to make it usable and detect errors in earlier stages and good job on that! Where were the bugs coming from? Are they easily fixable? How well has the testnet been working so far?

A: We are glad you like the testing campaign! As our tech development is moving fast forward to a more mature stage, we will have more campaigns focus on tech/testing/network development/bug bounties to get you more involved in our project development. Most of them will not be difficult even for our non-tech communities. Together we build and strengthen the IoTeX network together!

Specifically for the last Test-The-Net campaign, we have received around 18,000 transactions in total and detected a few minor bugs, which mostly are usability related bugs. For example, the nonce setting should be improved. Currently, we ask our users to set the number by themselves. Many people have no idea what exactly the “nonce” means so they have no idea which number should be filled in. We will try to add a default number for our users in our later version. It sounds simple but will take a lot of time to implement, since we need to change something from the structure level (will not affect main features). Also, we received a few reports from our supporters but the bug cannot be replayed. We will run multiple testing accounts forever to collect more information and grasp the bugs if there is any.

Overall there are no severe bugs on core codes/delegates/network found in this campaign, as well as since our testnet beta released. We are very proud of its performance and will keep improving it in the future.

Q4: Hi, what do you think is the current level of protection of the project? do you have any backup plans if there is a hacker attack on the project? How do you guarantee the degree of protection of your clients? Hash ID 1vbuw

A: As we are still in the process of developing our Testnet, we are currently focusing on two things in parallel: further development of new code/features and also rigorously testing our existing code/technology to identify potential security vulnerabilities.

Regarding backups plans in case of hacker attacks, this is something that we consider into the overall design of our architecture, technology, and upfront design choices. Our Roll-DPoS consensus mechanism has instant finality (block production/verification every ~3 seconds), which means even if the system is hacked it is designed to recover. Also, since block production is randomly delegated to a subset of candidates that are voted on by the community, this should properly incentivize block producers to maintain the network and not lose their deposited stake.

Finally, we are constantly researching new types of attacks and security risks, and ensuring that we take these into consideration. Security is of the utmost importance for our project!

Q5: We know that IoTeX will have full privacy algorithms implemented so that the privacy of the sender, the receiver and the value of the transaction can be preserved.

What about the bulk data that can be attached to the transactions? Are those data considered part of the value and get somehow encrypted too, or it’s supposed to be left as is?

A: You are correct in saying that IoTeX will have lightweight privacy-preserving techniques to ensure the full privacy of user data in the IoTeX network. However, this does not mean all data will be stored on-chain. For large files that don’t make sense to store on the blockchain, there are many options such as public/private clouds and IPFS, which is a peer-to-peer protocol where each node stores a collection of hashed files.

Hash IDs linked to each file stored in the cloud / IPFS will be stored on the blockchain to record the rightful owner of the data. More on IPFS here: Learn to securely share files on the blockchain with IPFS! | by Coral Health | Medium

Q6: Could the tech team of IoTeX give an insight into proportion of how much knowledge that helps to build Iotex come from scholar learning in universities and similar fields and how much comes from working on practical things previously in other companies? For example 50% scholar 50% previous practical job experience.

A: Interesting question. It is hard to tell using two simple numbers. Basically A (academic knowledge, e.g., cryptography, consensus, byzantine systems), B (experience on building large scale systems) and C (sense of product) are all needed. During the design phase, C kicks in first which tells us what features should be built into a release; then A kicks in to tell us how to accomplish that at least on a theoretic level; then B kicks in to assess if the design if feasible, performant and reliable in terms of engineering practice. Usually, this is an iterative process that keeps going. If a team is strong in A, B and C, it will build products that are theoretically sound, have great user experience and scalable enough to reach to millions of users.

Q7: 2018 has been a debate of scaling and it will be important for sure in the future. Will IoTeX be able to implement on-chain scaling solutions to match the possible huge throughput demand of dapps in the future? Also as a partnership was made with Celer networks and they aim to scale systems off-chain will you for sure be working tightly with them on that or is the priority to scale on-chain and only complement scaling with off-chain solutions in case on-chain scale hits ceilings? (Many people may see off-chain solutions implementations eliminating one of the main blockchain attributes — trustlessness and see off-chain scaling as a lazy way to scale)

A: On-chain scaling is a critical aspect for IoTeX platform and the team has made a great effort to improve the performance of our consensus protocol in the production environment. The partnership with Celer Network will enable IoTeX to take advantage of its off-chain scaling technique to further improve the scalability of our platform. As you have noticed, off-chain scaling solutions do need to make certain trade-offs between security and scalability. However, those solutions are still great complementary to the on-chain ones for handling the enormous throughput demand for large-scale Dapps in the future.