Q1. As we all know, you recently represented RChain in the International Financial Forum(IFF), RChain was the only public chain project to be invited. This conference is obviously very important in the world. This is an organization led by Central Bank of China Former Governor Zhou Xiaochuan, Senior government officials and financial celebrities from many countries also participated. Can you talk about why you were invited?
Greg: To be honest, we have a remarkable team in China and they were largely responsible for this opportunity. I believe they put forward our message. RChain was designed from the beginning to be an environmentally responsible and sustainable smart contracting blockchain. We want to provide a coordination substrate for humanity as it enters this next very difficult phase of climate change. To build this decentralized world computer and global database, we developed a version of proof-of-stake consensus, coupled with a concurrent virtual machine that scales nearly linearly with a much lower power consumption profile.
（中文：说实话，我们在中国有一支出色的团队，他们在给我带来了这个机会的过程中起了很大作用。 我相信他们向举办方提供了我们的很多信息。 RChain 从一开始就被设计为对环境负责且可持续的智能合约区块链。 当人类进入气候变化的下一个非常困难的阶段时，我们希望为人类提供协调基础。为了构建这个去中心化的世界计算机和全球数据库，我们开发了一个权益证明共识，配套上一个并发虚拟机，使得该架构可以几乎线性扩展，功耗更低。 ）
Q2. We heard from the RChain community that you used to be paid 0 during your tenure as RChain's CEO?
Greg: For roughly the first six months, after that the board and compensation committee felt it important for me to receive compensation. Then in 2018 during the crypto winter, all of RChain staff agree to take a 20% cut and at the end of 2019 beginning of 2020 (as COVID was affecting everything) I stopped taking a paycheck and used what money I had to keep the project going.
Q3. Rumor has it that Facebook's Libra approached you many times during RChain's tough times but was turned down?
Greg: We were in discussions. Facebook recruiters have tried to get me several times. To be perfectly honest, I used the conversations to gather intelligence on what Facebook and Libra were up to.
Q4. RChain's token REV total is 871 million, as the founder and chairman of RChain, rumor has it that you only took 7 million REV and donated half of it to the development of the project? Many people are concerned that you only took such a small amount of REV and will leave RChain due to lack of value tied to it.
Greg: In 2020 I spent about half of what I could get for the REV awarded to me to keep the project going. As for the REV I took, initially I took none. Then several members of the board and the community were concerned that I had no incentive to stay with the project. I will talk about my motivations shortly, but because I want the best for the project, I listened to these concerns and then followed the guidance of the compensation committee. The total they awarded me was 7M REVs. But it came in milestones. I used the milestone payment to keep the project going.
As for my motivations, they are not about money. I am working on RChain because of my worry for my children. They will live during a time of great upheaval. In roughly a decade we may see as many as 2.8B people forced to migrate due to climate change. Such a mass migration will make the Syrian refugee crisis look like a walk in the park. Meanwhile 80% of insects by biomass are simply gone. This is a planet-wide emergency situation. All hands on deck.
To address a situation of this scope and scale we will need planetary coordination. I mean global coordination greater than what was seen in WWII.
I see a scalable smart contracting blockchain platform as pivotal in developing the kind of coordination layer we need to augment our ability work together. This is why I am building RChain.
Q5. When did you decide to create RChain and for what purpose?
Greg: I have been aware of the issue for several decades, but it wasn’t until an entrepreneur convinced me to build a decentralized social media platform that I realized I had within my scope the ability to build a scalable world computer. So, in 2014 I began to work in earnest to deliver it.
In some sense, the work i did on Rosette at MCC, and then BizTalk for Microsoft and then the discovery of the Rho-Calculus were all stepping stones toward this goal.
Q6. When did you first get into math and computers? What made you stick to this path?
Greg: I have always been deeply in love with math. My preverbal memories are of a direct experience of dimension. In 2nd grade I completed the math text book in 2 weeks and then the teacher started me on algebra. Then, we moved and no one knew about my gifts until I tested out of high school math in 8th grade. From then on I began studying mathematics at the university level where I discovered topology. This was my first real love. By the time I got to college I was ready for deeper study and so I was given the opportunity to do private tutorials in modal logic and topology.
Rich Salter joined the Oberlin College faculty in computer science discovered there were these connections between topology and computer science (the Scott topology) and that there were programming languages (like Scheme) that illustrated some of those connections. I was hooked.
Later, while I was at MCC, I heard Samson Abramsky talk about computational interpretations of linear logic and the connection between proof, program, and concurrency and it was like a whole new world opened up. I knew I could never develop software again unless it followed this correct-by-construction paradigm.
Q7. Casper Standup(Click to Jump), There's a video over here of you having a heated academic discussion with Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ether, in 2016, do you still remember anything from that time? What inspiration did that conversation give you?
Greg: I don’t remember it as heated. Vitalik and Vlad and I and several others met frequently. We discussed different aspects of Casper. I think the particular conversation you’re referring to is the one where I introduced Vitalik to the π-calculus. The main thing I was trying to get across was the importance of concurrency and that if you get the computational model for this right, then a whole lot of other seemingly unrelated problems are solved all at once. For example, in the mobile process calculi, like the π-calculus and the Rho-calculus, you have a single phenomenon, competition on a channel, that accounts both for sharding and for DAG-based acceleration.
These ideas are difficult to see until you’ve had some experience. I could tell from my conversations with Vitalik that he wasn’t going to be able to come up to speed on these things fast enough without proper motivation. I felt that the best motivation is to build the solution and then he would be able to play with it and understand much better. I still think that he will come around and hope that he will begin playing with RChain soon.
Q8: What are the trump cards of RChain? How is it different from other public chains? What are some of the plans that exist in the short term?
Greg: In simple terms there are two basic features that make this suitable for the coordination substrate we are aiming to build. The first of these is that RChain scales nearly linearly as you add hardware. All the other blockchains either remain the same or get slower as you add hardware (nodes) to the network. RChain gets faster. If you stop and think about it, we have been scaling systems by adding hardware for the last half a century. The reason is simple. You can’t know when your team is going to come up with the next software breakthrough. You can’t budget for that. You can know exactly how much it’s going to cost you to order 1000 more boxes and when they will be delivered. This means you can do resource planning and a host of other crucial things associated with running and maintaining a network.
The only way to be able to scale by adding hardware is for the software architecture to be concurrent at the foundation.
Now, the second of these has to do with safety and security. In a smart contracting platform where users can write smart contracts on their own, they can and will introduce bugs on their own -- even if the core protocol layer is perfect -- written by the angels from on high. Imagine if Ethereum had been running at 40K TPS when the DAO bug hit. In one second the entire $150M worth of ETH would have been drained. Instead, the community had an entire month to respond to the problem. In the next phase, where 2.0 blockchains are competing in the 100’s of K’s TPS, there will not be the grace afforded to Ethereum to face another DAO bug, but they will be there, nonetheless. Unless there are important tools put into place that catch many of these kinds of errors before they can be deployed.
（中文：现在，其中的第二个问题与安全和保障有关。在一个智能合约平台上，用户可以自己编写智能合约，他们可以也会自己引入bug--即使核心协议层是完美的--由神仙亲自编写。想象一下，如果以太坊在DAO Bug发生时以40K TPS运行。在一秒钟内，整个价值1.5亿美元的ETH就会被偷走。与之相反，以太社区却有一整个月的时间来应对这个问题（因为TPS慢）。在下一阶段，2.0版区块链正在以几十万TPS的量级上竞争，以太坊不会再有同样的宽裕时间来面对另一个DAO漏洞，但它们还是会出现的。 除非有重要的工具到位，可以在合约被部署之前就能捕捉到许多这类错误。）
For example, in the case of the DAO Bug, when you rewrite the buggy contract in Rholang the re-entrancy error becomes a race condition. There’s a race between updating the state and accepting the next request. With the critical tool of spatial-behavioral types we can catch these kinds of race conditions (as well as certain kinds of liveness and security errors) at compile time, before the code ever gets deployed. We can do this automatically. i have heard of no other blockchain even talking about this, let alone implementing it. This has been on our roadmap from the beginning. We have prototypes already checked in that people can play with.
Q9: Open Letter to Tesla's CFO(Click to Jump), We heard that you recently wrote a letter to Tesla's CFO. Can you talk about your initial thoughts?
Greg: I was very encouraged by Tesla’s behavior. First, they openly and practically recognized and signaled the importance of blockchain by accepting BTC as payment. Then, as they began to understand the irresponsibility and unsustainability of proof-of-work they flipped and stopped accepting BTC, even though that meant the value of their own holdings would drop precipitously. They showed that they can admit when they are wrong, and hold to principles. This is incredibly rare in today’s business environment.
Given this very encouraging sign, it stood to reason that they might actually look at a realistic solution. Further, since it was a rare opportunity to take some of the attention focused on Tesla and blockchain and turn it to a broader more inclusive discussion of the real engineering issues it made a lot of sense to craft that letter. So far, it has gotten RChain a lot of attention and new members are joining the Cooperative every day!
Q10: RChain seems to have crossed a lot of crises, do you think that RChain is in a safe field now?
Greg: No. Please understand the environmental crisis we are all facing. All of humanity, in fact the entire planet, from the humans to the insects are facing extinction unless we all work together. The little ups and downs RChain faced are nothing compared to what we will all face. The difficulties RChain faced were perfect for finding out who was in it to get-rich-quick and who was in it to put in the work to help build a planetary solution. But, even if RChain delivers perfectly, under time and under budget, there is still no guarantee that as a species humanity will pick up the tools and begin to use them.
For sure, there are encouraging signs. The RChain community built RVote in 6 weeks. With no one in charge the community built a cryptographically secure on-chain voting mechanism that can be used by any organization on the planet. Likewise, in 6 days the community built an on-chain COVID passport, which expands nicely to self-sovereign identity, credential, and data solutions. But, these are no guarantees that people will hear the call in time. So, no project, no person, no living creature is in a safe field now.
Q11: We have heard that you are very fond of Chinese culture and that you are even well versed in the Taiji sword and the Taiji spear. Do you combine the art of Tai Chi to RChain?
Greg: LOL! These are exaggerations! I have studied a little sword and spear and have recently begun adding Chen to my regular Yang routines. But, I am far from well versed in any of it. To be honest, I love the fact that I can always learn something new about the Tai Chi forms. They seem endlessly deep.
But, yes, there is deep connection between Tai Chi’s view of the world and the Rho-Calculus. In the same way that Tai Chi is always aware of the kernel of the Yang in the Yin and the kernel of the Yin in the Yang, Rho-Calculus is aware of the kernel of process (behavior) in name (communication medium) and the kernel of name (communication medium) in process (behavior). It was designed with this idea in mind.
Q&A from the audience.