Rootstock Announces Turmeric Testnet Release; Interview with Chief Scientist, Sergio Lerner

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rootstock-interviewIn what has been a highly anticipated view into the progress of Rootstock’s (RSK) technology, the official testnet called Turmeric was released earlier this month at the Labitconf in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the RSK team is headquartered.

RSK’s Turmeric testnet will allow turning-complete smart contracts to be run on a virtual machine that bridges the Bitcoin Network. Miners will be able to mine both blockchains at the same time with a series of plugins provided by RSK, ensuring network stability and security. The testnet was launched with 35 nodes and is being tested by a limited number of partners before being opened to the entire community in early 2017.

As the Ethereum virtual machine has been the primary smart-contract processing network, with RSK and Lisk being developed as well, the solidity programming language which is used to program smart contracts is seen as a common method to make programmers of smart contracts be able to work between most of the virtual machines moving forward. RSK will allow projects to be ported from existing Ethereum programs right away, while Lisk has also made this a goal of theirs in the future. This helps ensure that a fractioning of interest and talent in the smart contracts and blockchain development space does not occur and in turn creating problems with interoperability.

RSK has also worked with Canada’s Decentral, the makers of the Jaxx Wallet, enabling RSK testnet digital currency to be sent and received using the Jaxx wallet.

In an email interview with RSK’s Chief Scientist Sergio Lerner, he discusses what the team is looking forward to in coming months in regards to both RSK’s protocol development as well as how the community can become involved by building with RSK.

How Does it Feel to be Releasing Rootstock Testnet to the Public?

“As a team, it was very exciting. Turmeric represents 10 months of hard work to make our design a reality. It also brings the responsibility of maintaining and monitoring the testnet until the production network is released, so our partners can test their applications before the launch. As a company, it represents that we’ve built an outstanding team and it has been committed to the development that allowed us to reach our milestones on schedule, which is something to be proud of.”

Do you have any Exciting Projects or Prototypes you can Disclose that have been Built on RSK yet?

“Some of the projects already built in RSK are key infrastructure components; explorers, wallets, vaults, bridges. External companies and integrators are also preparing RSK-based solutions. At RSK we try to encourage projects with high impact on the society, and also projects that are fundamental building blocks for more ambitious ideas.”

“Our most ambitious vision is the financial inclusion of billions of people. The main building block for financial inclusion are the generation of crypto-asset (tokens that represent fiat currencies or other external assets on the network) and easy-to-use mobile wallets.”

“Three companies (one from the crypto ecosystem and two from the traditional financial world) are developing solutions for issuing crypto-assets on RSK. Jaxx multi-platform and multi-currency wallet has recently included RSK tetnet tokens in preparation for supporting our production network.”

“Another key component is oracling services, such as the recently announced integration of Oraclelize.it to RSK. Oracle services constitutes the basis of identity, physical address, reputation, telephone, and all on-chain entity verification, which is fundamental for peer to peer loans and peer to peer markets, both kinds of applications in development by our partners. At RSK we are not searching for a killer app, we strongly think the cryptocurrency killer app is financial inclusion, and still there is a lot to be done to achieve this goal.”

What are RSK’s Core Strengths?

“RSK core strengths are diverse, their relative values depending on the point of view of the user. Existing Bitcoin users may find in RSK a platform that materializes the promise of a truly decentralized but yet secure wallet for everyday payments, and not only a settlement network for banks. Users will be able to customize their smart wallets for rate limits, payment whitelists, third key oracles, and physical presence requirements.”

“The unbanked that have access to smartphones will find in RSK a way to be part of the financial system, to have access to a low-cost payment network and even to receive loans. Traditional financial institutions will see RSK as a platform that combines the strengths of open networks with the additional layer of security of a Federation of known and auditable parties, and a platform where KYC can be enforced for self-issued crypto-assets.”

“Ethereum developers will find a system they already feel comfortable with, a system that can be programmed with the tools they invested time to master. Ethereum companies will find that porting their solutions to RSK is easy to learn; they can duplicate the chances of success by using RSK in case Ethereum fails. Bitcoin miners value RSK as a new source of revenue that does not compete, but increases the value of their investment in mining hardware. Last, Bitcoin holders will see RSK as an expansion of the Bitcoin network effect to new horizons, new use cases, resulting in a value appreciation of bitcoin the currency and their holdings.”

What are the Core Limitations?

“The core limitations of RSK are also diverse. Having a good market fit by approaching a right balance between decentralization and scalability implies RSK will never be as decentralized as Bitcoin, nor as efficient as a private ledger.”

“Also, another limitation is that merge-mining Proof-of-Work establishes a lower bound to the average block interval, close to 10 seconds, so RSK cannot compete with Proof-of-Stake in latency (as low as five seconds.) Another limitation can arise in case Bitcoin community does not accept the soft-fork to allow side-chains, in which case RSK pegged funds will always be held by the Federation. Even if the system prevents the Federation from enforcing censorship of any kind, the Federation can still become a central point of failure.”

Moving Forward, How Would you Like to see Developers Interact with RSK?

“At RSK we have two developer communities. One composed by developers creating Dapps over RSK for whom we are creating RSK University and a breath of tutorials and webinars that will be delivered through our Ambassadors Network.”

“The other one is the community of developers willing to contribute to the core of the platform and that will slowly get more and more ownership of RSK code. We have been opening small projects to start engaging with the community and the main project we will launch will be the creation of an alternative RSK node implementation in the language of choice of the developer community. For that purpose we will release protocol and architecture documentation. The objective is to see RSK’s and community based implementation grow in parallel. If both interact properly that will became a good indicator of solid protocol and architectural documentation.”

Can you Tell me What the Goals of the Ambassador Program and the RSK University Program are?

“Ambassadors are responsible for promoting and educating on the benefits that distributed Smart Contracts can bring to different industries and how RSK is contributing to push innovation forward in the space. Ambassadors organize meetups around the globe, detect companies willing to implement proofs of concept and connect them with the appropriate solution providers or developers within RSK Integrators Network.”

“RSK University provides training both technical and commercial to help top management, sales personnel and developers understand the opportunities and challenges of developing solutions on a distributed Smart Contracts platform. It has a general track where basic concepts about distributed networks, blockchain and smart contracts are explained and two specific tracks, one focused on business development where specific uses cases per industry are analyzed in depth and the other one targeted for developers where the architectural patterns of Dapps and hands on programming training is delivered.”

Do you Have a Rough Date of Anticipation for Ginger to be Launched?

“At RSK we’re committed to bringing RSK Mainnet Network, Ginger, live on May 2017.”

What was the Motivation Behind Integrating with Jaxx?

“Jaxx and RSK share the same philosophy, that cryptocurrencies are meant for a broader audience and that mobile money requires security, but also easy of use. Jaxx wallet has shown it can pack high-security features into a slim interface, which brings cryptocurrency closer to the goal of financial inclusion.”

“While competition between Bitcoin and Ethereum has certainly heated up in the past year, it is important to note that RSK seems to be focused on offering the best features possible for Dapps to be developed on, regardless of whether they work interoperable with Ethereum or other smart contract technology.”

“It will be a crucial next step to garner not only startup interest in developing Dapps with RSK, but also enterprise businesses as well once the mainnet version of RSK is released next year.”

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