Exploring Node Version 0.2 and Ectoplasm with CasperLabs

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One of the exciting projects in the cryptoverse is one headed by CasperLabs, the ADAPtive Holdings-backed research and development innovator building the next generation of ‘blockchain for public enterprise’ networks, which has unveiled the first key update for developers, Node 0.2, which significantly reduces barriers to downloading, building, and running a network of Correct By Construction (CBC) CasperLabs nodes. We spoke with Co-Founders Mrinal Manohar and Steven Nerayoff about the project’s future plans.

BTCManager

Could you tell us a bit about Node Version 0.2?

CasperLabs

With this release, dApp developers can associate a contract with an unforgeable name, the VM is more stable due to improved usage of idiomatic type-safety constructs and provides more descriptive error messages. Execution costs are calculated and returned and can be viewed as part of log output.

Downloading, building and running a simple network of 3 CasperLabs nodes has been simplified and now requires only single installation. This network of 3 nodes can run using Docker on a standard personal computer.

The CasperLabs node will run smart contracts that compile to WASM. Presently, compilation targets for C/C++ and Rust are available. The CasperLabs system supports the upgrading of contracts through Capability Security Model.

The CasperLabs node implements the Capability security model. Contracts are stored under unforgeable (unguessable) references. Before this release, contracts had to be stored under a reference generated by the system only. Now dApp developers can associate a contract with an unforgeable name. Once a contract has been stored under a hash, it is immutable. Contract authors can share this unforgeable name to their contract, so others can invoke the contract. If the contract author wants to change the behavior of their contract, they can replace what the unforgeable name points to (because they own the unforgeable name, they can write to it). Once that is done, the new version of the contract is presented to whoever is invoking the contract via the unforgeable name.

Unforgeable references now have a type associated with them. A Ref corresponds to a key in the global state. The keys come in three types: unforgeable, account addresses and contract hashes.

BTCManager

Besides Node Version 0.2, you also launched Ectoplasm, your native token. How did it come about and what is its purpose?

CasperLabs

For the avoidance of doubt, we announced the name of our native token “Ectoplasm” which will be used at mainnet launch. Its purpose is very similar to the way ETH behaves on the Ethereum network. It will act as the token used to pay for computation. In addition, we will skew toward predictable supply and inflation providing some soundness to value.

BTCManager

On your website, it was mentioned that your Smart Contracts execute concurrently rather than serially. Why was this important to you and how was this achieved?

CasperLabs

This is important as it allows greater throughput; similar to how multi-threading works on a microprocessor. This is enabled by the fact that a block can have multiple parents as long as there is commutation.

BTCManager

It seems that fully decentralized networks are becoming the standard. What do you think the long term implications of this will be?

CasperLabs

It’s just a continuation of what blockchain technology was meant to do. Bitcoin and Ethereum are fully decentralized, I strongly believe there is still a strong long term desire for a fully decentralized system that fully scales (regardless of who does it). The long term implication is that with secure decentralization, value will eventually transfer onto blockchains. We’re still in an “experimental” stage when it comes to the true technical and economic potential of this movement; we’re all in this together trying to make this happen.

BTCManager

What does your new project offer in terms of security?

CasperLabs

Security comes from two things; (i) Full decentralization results in much lower collusion risk. (ii) We implement the “Object capability model” for access control to objects as well as processes. This model is standard for highly secure systems; first proposed in 1966, it comes with decades of ongoing research against it.

BTCManager

This project had a large team working on it but also saw input from the larger community. How is the balance of both of these two elements achieved?

CasperLabs

We have a very engaged community on our Github and Telegram channel. While it’s hard to maintain a perfect balance we try our best to relay and get feedback on major decisions. Our community helped us with several decisions including naming the chain.

BTCManager

What next can we expect from CasperLabs?

CasperLabs

We will have a node release every 4-6 weeks with our Devnet releasing in ~July and our testnet in the latter half of Q4. We invite enthusiasts to follow our progress and experiment with our node releases via our github @ https://github.com/CasperLabs/ and https://github.com/CasperLabs/CasperLabs/releases. We also have a lot of announcements relating to key partnerships with DApps and enterprises that we will announce along the way.

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