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Running for Witness: Embracing the Crypto Life™


2 years agoSteemit12 min read


Dear Steem community,

Recently over coffee, a friend asked me questions about real-estate properties and businesses on the blockchain, seeing that I have been advising a few small projects over the past year. It was a long talk, but I'll try to summarize it. It has a lot to do with both Steem, Tau, and my decision to run as witness:-

  • There are plenty of unsolvable problems that no blockchains or any other technologies will ever be able to solve. For example: really knowing what's in the real world around us, from legal ownership to the things that I'm saying here in this post. Blockchains or any records of anything in life would rely on sensors (or oracles, human-beings, etc) to sense. But sensors ultimately require input, which is something that cannot be 100% trusted since we can just provide kind of signals, true or false, as input. So relationships and social networks still matter in the end even if we are to use the blockchain as a trust protocol for meta-information.

  • Calling something smart-contract and printing data into it doesn't immediately make it trustworthy, obviously. So if an entrepreneur is going into the business of trying to shove things like identities and real-estate titles into a blockchain as proof-of-something in the real world, is it actually going to hold water if there are no massive communities revolving around it, using the platform's token as an everyday currency?

  • Just about every popular language out there is based on Turing-completeness, all of which are undecidable in nature. We can express and build anything that we want with infinite complexities. This phenomenon isn't only restricted in the realm of human languages like English or Chinese, but also in most programming languages like C++, Java, Solidity, etc. If you've wondered why our human laws and computer programs can sometimes be so unexpectedly buggy and insanely messy, then look no further beyond this problem with the meta-language that we've been using to intermediate our communications, which are all based on infinite and unrestricted computational complexity. This is why bringing this state of affairs into the heart of blockchain architectures may not be the best use case of the innovation all along.

  • Seeing that blockchains or decentralized applications are ultimately social platforms that aim to go beyond the downsides of traditional structures, I now think the choice of languages being used so far might actually be a huge technical flaw that blockchain protocols ought to avoid inheriting. Solving this very specific problem will give rise to many first-time features that are socially useful. Indeed, this is why I think Tau might very well be the giant leap in blockchain magic. If you've never heard of it before, check out their fresh new website at Try some of the blogposts too, such as Tau and the Crisis of Truth.

  • So again, here we have a scenario where we may have poor choice in meta-language being recklessly brought over into the realm of blockchain protocols for the past decade. This is why building stuff on application-general blockchains like Ethereum, Tezos, and such typically consume plenty of time and resources, sometimes even prone to inspire the solving of unsolvable problems. Perhaps even moreso than the Internet bubble in the 90s, seeing that there are no centralised hands to tame the infinite complexities involved and getting things done in some certain way that works for the mass market, so to speak. There's just no one single company dedicated to work on these platforms. Instead, everyone can and should take a part. But with the game as it is now, it has been difficult for users to connect with trustworthy applications, projects, and communities that are relevant. It's really a different ballgame when it comes to building a world of decentralized networks.. that work.

  • So it's getting clearer these days that it may just be way more convenient, affordable, and secure to build on platforms that only deal with limited complexities such as Steem, even though any development on its codebase still works on the basis of turing-completeness. Fortunately, here we have significantly lesser problems to worry about: we're on an application-specific blockchain afterall, which is why it is much easier for development. Its simplicity is built around proven utility with some form of rigidity. With the upcoming Smart Media Tokens, developers and entrepreneurs can innovate around certain powerful ideas extensively without being dragged down by uncertainties.


On being a deviant.

With those points out of the way, I went on telling my friend that I thought I may be too opinionated to be an adviser for entrepreneurs looking into the blockchain hypetrain, as I couldn't even recommend anyone building on the popular platforms like Ethereum now. For fun, maybe, but I just can't recommend it anymore seeing that it's currently sitting at tens of billions in market cap, but only serving about 10,000 users a day in its decentralized applications. It's just still not good enough compared to our centralised counterparts.

So it is a bit of a killjoy for most developers and entrepreneurs when I recommend both Steem and Tau, blockchains that aren't ranking highly enough on Coinmarketcap to inspire confidence. It certainly has affected and limited my opportunities as a wannabe adviser and content producer in the space, since my investment thesis now mainly resides in these underdogs. But my good friend was quick to remind me that I might actually be giving the best unpopular advice that serious entrepreneurs need to hear. Am I?

I'm definitely not fudding here at all. Just speaking my mind. If anything, I'd recommend any communities with good sensible ideas to consider building on both Steem and Tau, even if that may entail waiting for the painfully long developments.


Embracing the Crypto Life™.

So my buddy's pat in the back made me think that I should now just continue to pursue my interests 100% in this space, wherever it takes me. So what's this Crypto Life™ about? It's just a clickbait and it really just means me being invested in my investments. That's how it all becomes currency I guess. I think it's a powerful idea.

Cryptocurrency makes this a possibility. This is why Steem Power is still appealing to me as some unit of investment after two years more than everything else, although I think it could do way better with some modifications. It's just a hard conversation to sustain and keep track of at the moment. Anyway, if Tau works out well in the future, then we may begin to truly scale discussions and figure out better economic incentives. Perhaps even develop and deploy them easily. The better model will eventually rule the markets anyway, so no time will be wasted on debates.


Making Steem & Tau my business.

I’ve also been advising a small group of talented folks at Trybe this year to keep track both Steem and Tau for their blockchain needs. That would mean a lot of patience waiting for the right tools, so we will not be rushing into announcing any Smart Media Tokens and all of that just yet, if ever, so the integrations with our applications like Moo'lah and Oske are still very much a work-in-progress.

With that, I would like to announce that I'm running for witness on Steem, bringing along a part of the team at Trybe onboard to support the ecosystem when it becomes feasible to do so. So if you’re a developer who’s very familiar with Steem and the upcoming Smart Media Tokens, please feel free to contact me at [email protected] because we would need your help at some point to get things up to speed, especially on dev-to-dev communications about Steem-related technicalities.


Avoiding Turing-completeness.

Human life is full of uncertainties even in the things we think are certain. So other than sturdy buildings and well-crafted machinaries, can't we also finally have social protocols that are decidable, dependable, and is useful to all of us? It's been years since my last dayjob when I was still doing corporate sales, selling stuff that I don't even care about, so hope you don't mind if I indulge explaining a little more of what I think about these products:-

  • Steem is an application-specific blockchain with low-friction adoption and development. Its simple form and function deals with a limited and manageable set of complexities, but with wide potential use-cases for all kinds of communities. For the lack of better words, I think i's fair to say that it's way harder to screw up something like Steem in the long-term due to its simplicity like Bitcoin. If you're not a Steem user, but reading this, please do check out the recent CoinCentral articles here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

  • Tau is an application-general blockchain with highly non-trivial designs where users can deploy any kinds of peer-to-peer networks. It's also going to be the world's first implementation of a self-defining and decidable non-Turing-complete meta-language based on FO[PFP] with PSPACE-complexity that will support an internet of languages; thus enabling the scaling of discussions, consensus, collaboration, and production of knowledge worldwide. I believe that Ohad Asor, founder and developer of Tau might be hitting on a technological homerun here through leveraging the magics offered precisely by what I think is the language of decentralization, something which he figured out after years of research. It's now under intense development. But there's only a small group of us watching, probably thinking we're the crazy ones. Are we?

  • Steem is like candy for users to show up and share. It also has the ability to easily reward users on any applications for whatever reasons, tapping into the power of subjectivity. On the other hand, Tau is a semantic social platform that will likely enable us to discover people and applications that are highly relevant to us, collaborate across communities with convenience, and participate in a kind of digital knowledge-cash economy that's based more on objectivity. All backed by an ever-evolving logical framework enabled by Tau's paradigm of human-machine-human communication. And that's only the tip of the iceberg.


There's no conflict of interest running as a Steem witness in massive support of Tau.

Both of these projects can greatly benefit each other. At the risk of sounding too far-fetched, I also think there may be a possibility for the Steem protocol to be ported and deployed on the Tau network sometime in the future, if and when it becomes alive. There's just no reason not to, if my take on it is accurate. Imagine the Steem network and its sub-protocols evolving according to our discussions. Tau could also benefit from the crypto-ready communities and applications available on Steem. We will see what happens when the time comes. If anything, Tau could use more attention. Take a look, and write about it on Steem!

This close relationship is something that I'm proposing as both a witness and user of the platform. I hope it's clear over the past couple of years that I'm invested.

My only role on the developer side of things is just to invest in good partners and providing advice, even though if that just means telling people to wait for the right technologies to come. That said, I would like any developers I happen to work with to have the freedom to innovate on new and existing enterprises.


Who am I?

I started on Steem a little over 2 years ago and have since been on the rollercoaster ride. Also helped a bit in kickstarting initiatives like @curie and simply investing in others through voting. Mined my first and last batch of Bitcoins back in 2009. Forgot all about it until Ethereum came about. The incident with The DAO led me to my first post here.

My academic background is in the field of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, which honestly is something I'm not very good at when it comes to the heavy-lifting. Work-wise, I've some experience here and there, dealing with some music, semiconductors, computer vision, copywriting, marketing, sales, and just about anything accessible through a computing device these days. I find joy taking the time doing some writing, researching, investing, and just having a good chat.

An honest node.

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1270v6 - 4c/8t - 3.8GHz /4.2GHz
RAM: 64GB DDR4 ECC 2400 MHz
Storage: 2x450GB SSD NVMe
Network: 1gbit/s

Nothing fancy at the moment and I'm still learning. Will expand accordingly upon market conditions. With the feasibility of using large NVMe and later Optane drives, Steem's infrastructure may be on its way to enjoying a much better cost of quality operations. Maybe? With the recent v0.19.10 update, it seems that it is already encouraged to place the shared-file entirely on the NVMe disk without having it at all committed into /dev/shm/, ramdisk, or memory. Had a test run witnessing on v0.19.5 a couple of days ago. Now my setup is running on v0.19.11.

Ready to witness.

All support for my witness will be prioritised towards securing reliable nodes. Any bonuses will be going to building the Crypto Life™, which for me can be characterised through the spirit of both Steem Power and Tauchain's Agoras. Will continue spending the time to create content, invest well, and try to take the platform to a better position. If whatever I've been talking about here seems okay, please consider voting for my witness account and share this post. Thank you ありがとうございました. Also, thanks to @krnel, @timcliff, @pfunk, @liberosist, and @brandonfrye for the guideposts in setting up a node.

Note: Please bear with the setup as I may be trying out different strategies that require disabling my witness intermittently over the next few weeks.

How to vote:-

  1. Go here:
  2. Look for my userame @kevinwong and vote.
  3. Alternatively, you can vote through Steemconnect here:

Contributions welcome.

STEEM: @kevinwong
AGRS: 1v5zxZQnGBjGyVqTnkmWV4HqpSh9StaJt
BTC: 1v5zxZQnGBjGyVqTnkmWV4HqpSh9StaJt


The New World Blogger
Follow me @kevinwong
(alt-account: @etherpunk)
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Not to be taken as financial advice.
Always do your own research.


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