Wikipedia Founder Larry Sanger Talks About Blockchaining Wikipedia

Nuno Teodoro

One of the co-founders of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, has shared his plans and insights on blockchain-based encyclopedias.

He shared his thoughts during an exclusive for Boxlife.tv that took place yesterday (Nov 26) at the Delta Summit.

Everipedia

Larry Sanger is pioneering the first ever encyclopedia built on the blockchain, the Everipedia project. According to the official website, the Everipedia IQ blockchain will bring a new paradigm shift and ”disrupt the old centralized internet knowledge encyclopedia model similar to Wikipedia”.

Through the use of a distributed ledger, there will be new financial incentives for content creators. The network will also be decentralized, censorship resistant, and democratic (each IQ token holder can vote on important network decisions).

The Interview

Q: How do you use blockchain to verify information and sources on an encyclopedia?

Larry Sanger: A combination of methods. First of all, Everipedia started out as a fork of Wikipedia and it remains a wiki. Wikis are essentially self-policing. It doesn't mean they are perfect, mistakes do creep in. But I think they creep in in every source. I think that in the long run, as we move in the second phase of the everipedia network, we will have a rating system for all the encyclopedia articles in the world. This, in short, will create a global competition to represent the best of what we know on each topic. The best articles will have to be extremely well sourced and written in order to win the competition.

I think the main reason that people have not started a global rating system for content is that nobody really trusts google or any other single source to be responsible with such important data. If there is going to be any global system to rate content, in this case encyclopedia articles, the information has to be managed responsibly and there has to be a neutral internet protocol. The best way to guarantee that is to put it on a blockchain, then the rules that govern how the ratings work and how they are used and so forth are all transparent, creating a level playing field for everyone.

Q: Just to clarify, when mentioning a neutral internet protocol are we talking about an independent system that verifies information?

LS: I don’t think the important editorial decisions should be made on the blockchain. Each different frontend will decide what it wants to do with rating data. Everipedia is likely to use some sort of a weighted average of article ratings. We haven’t really decided. It isn’t going to be entirely up to me to decide. The management of the network is spread out, decisions are made by 51% of the IQ token holders. They will keep the whole system honest and responsible.

Q: What can IQ token holders decide on?

LS: They can decided things like whether an edit or new article is accepted, or how many tokens are mined per day. We are still testing exactly what the parameters are. We are actually in the process of creating the first smart contract vote. We will be voting on the smart contract that will govern the operation of the network. That’s kind of exciting. Ultimately we will have a constitution, an agreement among all of the users, that will be encoded on smart contracts.

Q: Constitution sounds very official. Are you treating this almost like a country?

LS: That’s how I think about online communities actually. If it's going to be truly decentralized and democratic, and I think those two things go hand-in-hand, then there has to be rules that govern how the whole is organized. Now when it comes to something like Bitcoin, for example, there’s no real decisions to be made. It is relatively simple. But when it comes to an encyclopedia network, there are so many huge and important editorial decisions to be made, or avoid making, that its extremely important that there be ground rules.

Q: How is it different? Before we had the internet where anyone could post anything they wanted. I remember encyclopedia books. What’s wrong with that system?

LS: The main problem with that system is that it was small and slow. When you see Encyclopedia Britannica on the shelf it is an impressive thing. But compared with all of the information that is included in Wikipedia, which is a small sliver of all encyclopedic information that lives online, it is just a tiny amount. And also, if you were to write and manage the content of topics and information using the traditional service it would just be incredibly expensive and time consuming. It would take 100 years to write instead of 15.

Q: If I’m a token holder, how much time do I need to spend per day to contribute to Everipedia?

LS: It depends on what kind of token holder you want to be. You can buy IQ in the exchange and never even look at Everipedia website. We certainly hope that isn’t what you’re going to do (laughs). If you want to be a responsible token holder you would, at least, be on hand for the important votes.

Q: You have had numerous ventures in the Encyclopedia business. What is it that drives to verify and gather all of this information?

LS: That is a good question. It is difficult to answer it briefly. I have a PhD in philosophy, my specialization is theory of knowledge. I’ve been thinking about the standards of knowledge, skepticism, and about the systematic representation of knowledge. I love deductive systems a lot and a well constructed encyclopedia in a certain way represents a semantic hierarchy. It is really, really interesting to me. I think knowledge is one of the most important things in the world, greatly undervalued by many educators today. It is totally ironic.

Q: What do you mean knowledge is undervalued?

LS: I think that perhaps it is worse in the United States. One hears a lot of talk about this from educators. Some educators state that facts don’t matter, as we don’t really need to teach knowledge. They say that we need to teach how to learn, “students need to learn how to learn”.  That’s the catchphrase. And there needs to be more practical knowledge. Know-how and not knowledge-that, to make the distinction between declarative knowledge and the procedural knowledge that philosophers and psychologists like to talk about.

Educators are all into procedural knowledge and how to learn. If learning how to learn is supposed to be a valued thing worth teaching, it has to be because having learned things is actually valuable.

Komodo to Soon Release Atomic Swap-Enabled Trading App, CTO Reveals

Cryptocurrency exchanges have been under fire so far this year, as hackers have kept on targeting them and other events hurt the confidence users have in certain platforms. Atomic swap technology is set to revolutionize the way we trade cryptocurrencies and more.

As CryptoGlobe covered, a Chainalysis report has found that 60% of cryptocurrency exchange hacks were the work of two major players, dubbed “Alpha” and “Beta.” Alpha was described as a “giant, tightly controlled organization partly driven by non-monetary goals” that appeared eager to “create havoc as to maximize profits.”

Beta, on the other hand, was described as a “less organized” player that focused more on monetary gains from their endeavors, moving money less, and waiting longer before cashing out. Together, these have reportedly stolen over $1 billion from exchanges.

Moreover, cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia was hacked earlier this year in an attack described as “unusual” by Elementus, as it lasted longer than regular attacks, and saw hackers cash out over $2 million from decentralized exchanges.

On top of all this, crypto exchange QuadrigaCX recently went down after its founder and CEO Gerald Cotten unexpectedly passed away. Cotten was reportedly the only person with access to $145 million worth of customer funds in cold storage. The complex situation cost one crypto trader his $420,000 life savings, and is still unfolding.

While decentralized exchanges exist, their liquidity problems have seen most users stay away from them. The solution, peer-to-peer exchange, has trust-based risks, which are hard to fix without the transaction being made in person. This, as seen, carries risks.

Enter atomic swaps. This type of technology, according to the CTO of privacy-centric cryptocurrency Komodo (KMD),Kadan Stadelmann, can potentially revolutionize P2P transactions, as it eliminates the need the need for any central party.

This, he said, won’t make centralized cryptocurrency exchanges useless, as there’s room for both. CryptoGlobe caught up with Stadelmann to learn more about atomic swaps and Komodo itself.

CryptoGlobe: Can you introduce our audience to Komodo?

Kadan Stadelmann: Komodo itself is a blockchain platform that was founded a couple of years ago. Our vision is blockchain interoperability, the interconnectivity between different blockchain systems, between different communities, between different blockchain protocols, and also different technologies.

We have a varied set of different technologies and tools that together do reflect this vision that we have. As you maybe know we have decentralized exchanges, applications using blockchain technology, and some sort of smart contract system. As you can see it’s a pretty complex framework, and that basically is Komodo.

CG: Can you help us better understand atomic swaps?

KS: Sure. So there are different forms of atomic swaps, I'll just make it as abstract and as simple as possible. What I'm talking about now is the so-called "cross-chain atomic swap," this is basically the atomic swap everyone is talking about right now.

In simple terms an atomic swap would mean an exchange of coins from one person to another, without any central party involved. This is a direct line between me and you, so we can use the atomic swap protocol to exchange our tokens without any central technology. This cross-chain atomic swap is basically the idea of trading, exchanging something in a trustless way, with the help of specific mathematics and cryptography.

A cross-chain atomic swap can involve different blockchain protocols, so we can trade for example Ethereum for Bitcoin, and this trade takes place on our central computers - there's no central server like a centralized exchange. The most important aspect of this technology is that we're able to trade without anyone else involved, just me and you.

CG: What do you see in the technology's future? What potential applications can you imagine?

KS: I think this technology can cover a lot of things. Not just exchanging coins and tokens, but also exchange technology, exchanging information, and other data forms and data in general. I think atomic swaps - this technology of exchanging something in decentralized and trustless ways - opens door to the whole industry.

We're potentially talking about doctors exchanging information, Universities exchanging knowledge, making it a medium of exchange. These universities could use atomic swaps to exchange knowledge in a trustless way. I think for the technology the use cases are endless, as it's very promising.

Where I see it going is of course the financial area: trading, exchanges, etc. Those will be utilizing atomic swaps first. I see atomic swaps on smartphones, apps, and even on a smartwatch app. It's a mighty technology.

CG: Specifying cryptocurrency exchanges, how will atomic swaps affect them? Will they be an asset to them?

KS: I think it's going to definitely be an asset, something that's positive for the industry. We even see centralized exchanges developing decentralized exchange technology, take Binance for example - it's a centralized exchange building a decentralized exchange.

The biggest benefit of a decentralized exchange is the security, as trades just happen between me and you. It's very very different from a centralized exchange. I personally believe there will always be users who're familiar with the centralized exchange and will always feel more comfortable just opening a browser and entering an exchange this way. I think centralized and decentralized exchanges will likely co-exist for a couple of years, before we see hybrid forms get created.

CG: How will atomic swaps work with layer-two scaling solutions like Bitcoin's Lightning Network?

KS: [Atomic swaps] will be possible on layer-two scaling solutions, definitely, but they'll be a little bit different. Basically you would need some sort of gateway. Even though the coins are "locked" on the scaling solution, I believe atomic swap implementations could wait until the tokens arrive at the endpoint, exit the LN, and get unlocked again.

So if we did a trade and the LN was involved, it wouldn't be confirmed until the last steps were done - coins unlocked and tokens out of the second layer. We've developed something we call a trust API - while we're always trying building the system trustless we know normal users don't like to wait for confirmations, so in this case the system will allow a trade without the wait for the confirmation, or without waiting for the bitcoins to exit the LN.

I see other systems doing the same, so we would have an additional validation and confirmation layer allowing us to use the LN for atomic swapping. But it'll be different.

CG: When will Komodo's BarterDEX be live?

KS: Our decentralized exchange is live, publicly accessible, and already online. However, BarterDEX just entered the alpha testing stage two to three weeks ago and we're preparing for beta testing. We will make a public pre-release soon, however this is still a backend software, there is no graphical UI available right now.

We are planning to release a mobile solution - a smartphone trading application utilizing atomic swaps - later this year. A third-generation decentralized exchange.

CG: What's the Komodo token's role in all of this?

KS: We haven't really created Komodo as some sort of gas or fueling token for a decentralized exchange or any other technology. Our tech is 100% open and Komodo is the flagship token of the platform itself. The coin utilizes all the technologies we've built, and Komodo is more or less a "mothership," in the sense that it's the big spaceship where everything else - the other small projects - are created.

Komodo is like this big base foundation that we've laid for all the new tokens we see. We have dozens of blockchains being created with Komodo, that's its role. It's the glue that sticks dozens of projects, developers, and communities together and connects them while providing them a compatibility layer.

CG: Komodo hit a near $12 all-time high during the crypto market's peak, and now it's under $1, are you worried about its price performance, or the impact this may have on people's perspective into the market?

KS: To be honest I have no issue with the current market condition. While people say this was a really bad bear market, I think its normal as all coins are kind of pegged to bitcoin and if bitcoin goes down they all do.

At the end of the day 2018, the year everyone calls the worst crypto year, was the best one for me and every developer I know. We never had so much technology get created, we never had so many contracts and deals be made in the blockchain space. Although prices are down and Komodo along with it, the price to me is completely irrelevant. For me personally, it's irrelevant and the market should never be linked to the technology layer, they're two different things.

CG: Is there anything else you'd like to share with our audience?

KS: Yes, take a look at Komodo. It is a very promising technology, a young platform, and we've never really looked at the rest of the ecosystem as competition. If someone's following the media, we have security collaborations and vulnerability disclosure agreements.

Our big, big vision was to connect blockchain and provide this compatibility layer - and we've done it. We're open for other blockchains, users and developers to join.