The First Million-Person Conversation [Interview Ohad Asor of Tau-Chain]

Scaling Ideas with Blockchain

To many, the greatest promise of blockchain is the idea of scalability – monetary scalability, data scalability, and the potential to be inclusive of individuals worldwide. Decentralization allows us to imagine new systems that don’t buckle under the weight or compromise themselves in the face of global usership and accessibility. Scalability in and of itself is not new, the innovation of Blockchain is doing so while keeping the system secure.

A few key leaders in the blockchain industry are pushing that envelope even further, with a belief that secure open scalability will impact the process of thought and interaction. These leaders believe that blockchain technology is here on a fundamental level to openly organize and understand the complexity of human ideation. Ohad Asor is one such developer, dedicating himself to a unique blockchain project, Tau-Chain, and an ambition to use decentralized networks to fuel the evolution of human expression and comprehension. 

The Creative Crypto: Hello Ohad! Tell us about yourselves and how you entered the blockchain space. 

I’ve been a software developer and mathematician all my life. I first heard about Bitcoin in 2013, though unfortunately didn’t buy any back then! Around early 2014, I came up with the of Zennet that would eventually become Tau-Chain and Agoras. I’ve been working on a secure, self-defining scalable system which will evolve into a decentralized knowledge and computational resources market with an advanced monetary system. Currently, I’m working on its infrastructure which I call “the Internet of Languages”.

There was one core reason that blockchain fascinated me in the beginning. Blockchain is essentially a magical way to decentralize information storage and use while keeping it secure yet widely accessible. Having a database that everyone can contribute to yet no one can easily attack was previously not thought to be possible in the domain of computer science. Previously, it was widely believed that in a decentralized setting one cannot reach an agreement over the data without compromising security, as demonstrated by the so-called “Byzantine Generals Problem”.

Do you think the blockchain sector is going in the right direction to achieve this?

Well first of all, Satoshi utilized cryptographic assumptions to challenge this approach and demonstrated how an open decentralized database may stay secure against malicious actors.

Now what if we take this a step further? Imagine a decentralized program that everyone writes, a program that is waiting for its users to tell it what to do. That program can be the rules of the blockchain itself, effectively democratizing the rules of governance at the most fundamental level.

People usually treat blockchain as a core technological evolution that already achieves this, but in reality, it does not currently include the means to soundly secure itself, nor does it allow all users equal rights.

Some try to approach this naively in the way of voting with blockchain governance, but this has proven to just change how something will fail. For example, when we vote in elections, we can cast our vote on whether we support something but we cannot ever vote on whether something should be voted on in the first place. How are we going to vote on 1 million proposals of what we should vote on? It is practically impossible. Voting governance in blockchain suffers from the same problem. Similarly, how can we comprehend the consequences of proposals which could compromise the security of the system, given not only the complexity of such understanding, but even the theoretical inability to do so (as in the Halting Problem or more generally Rice’s theorem, which demonstrate that reasoning over computer programs is mathematically impossible in most cases)?

How is Tau-Chain tackling this issue?

With Tau, we will express ourselves in decidable machine-comprehensible languages. Decidability means the theoretical ability to get answers to all questions asked. We explain to the machine what we want and once the machine can understand it, it can create an opinions map regarding any domain of information. This will offer a seamless solution to assessing those 1 million opinions so that we can move beyond a binary YES/NO voting protocol and actually assess ideas more comprehensibly. 

With Tau-Chain, we’re going to achieve the first 1-million person discussion in history.

With Tau-Chain, we’re going to achieve the first 1-million person discussion in history. In small groups and in everyday life, we don’t need to vote at all. To decide on where to go for dinner with friends, we just cast our opinions and don’t hold a formal tally. We just know based on the information presented by everyone and can feel out what the best solution is in a given situation. Tau-Chain will be able to sort through millions of pieces of data and sort general sentiments, common links between groups and individuals, and be able to scale conversations for the first time. 

To contrast this, on Facebook, we see posts and comments presented by popularity or another sorting mechanism which Facebook uses. Imagine you could see the main opinions and link to everyone else that subscribes to that line of thought. We only see simple likes or hearts, not even a straightforward way to disagree. With a machine comprehensible and decidable language, the machine can tell me right away whether this person agrees, that person does not, etc.

Why pursue such large-scale conversations?

It is a human fact that discussion don’t scale. If you have a discussion with 100 people and suddenly make it 200, it will not necessarily be 2x more effective or impactful. A great deal of the information flow will be wasted, even when the constituents are very educated. We have to resort to hierarchical ways of dealing with information and very simplified tools like surveys that don’t necessarily account for nuanced thought and delivery. 

Bringing the right minds to a problem seems the reasonable way to solve it. The most logical solution to any given problem is to bring the highest number of experts together to figure things out. The scalability issue of discussions is the only roadblock that prevents this.

With 1 million people, we will likely not have 1 million distinct opinions. The machine will be able to say who said what and connect the right ideas together, better utilizing the combined energies of so many participants.

So with Tau-Chain as the information backbone, what usability are you building onchain?

First and foremost, it can be anything that its users want it to be, as they ultimately collaboratively determine the very code of the network.

The Alpha will be a discussion platform that will allow a 1-million person conversation to be more than 10,000x effective as a 100-person one. We’re using that logic to pursue three primary capacities – 

1- A Real Knowledge Market

Knowledge today is monetized only in indirect ways with professional services and centralized databases. You cannot sell information directly. We can create machine-driven decentralized markets where information is directly monetized and if someone or some entity needs specific information, participants can help contribute to forming the most suitable knowledge and automatically be rewarded with coins over the blockchain.

2- Computational Resources

Right now, most of our computers do nothing most of the time. Many entities need great deals of computational power at higher magnitudes and even corporations like Facebook and Google have a small number of computers in their network, relative to the number of computers even in a small city. The most powerful supercomputer nowadays has less computing power than 10,000 household GPUs, meaning that we could harness much more computation if it was organized the right way.

This is another clear example of how decentralized systems could help money flow to the masses, not simply enrich the rich. As computational resources are better connect to service companies and institutions with high processing needs, contributors could monetize their latent energy and time.

3. Advanced Currency

One of the most fascinating and completely innovative properties of Agoras as a currency offering risk-free interest without creating new money. This is achieved by utilizing a sophisticated option pricing model pioneered by Black&Scholes. It is the first time we can create and own a completely deflationary currency with its value coming from the hedging needs of the players. No more interest based on inflation.

Are there any particular use cases that you’re looking forward to? Who will be able to leverage this best?

I believe any large company with a lot of humans needing to collaborate will be able to use this to better their information flow. Every company needs an effective and efficient information flow from its workers and clients.

Do you think Tau-Chain will change the nature of conversations? Will we communicate differently?

Conversations are not just about communicating information, but being able to navigate that it and discover persepectives, angles, or more generally, understanding. I think this will help large-scale conversations become much more nuanced rather than binary or hierarchical. We’ll also be able to ask decentralized databases specific questions and be able to extract diverse understandings of conversations. I hope this will all help conversations move away from linear and small-scale activities into massive and impactful reservoirs of information.

If readers are interested in diving deeper into Tau, where should they look?

You can follow the [blog section] of the Tau website for more foundational writing on the structure of the blockchain and the intended impact.

Thank you Ohad Asor for speaking with us about Tau-Chain and Agoras. For those interested in learning more, make sure to explore the links below!


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