Nervos and the Next Level of Blockchain Abstraction

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Nervos and the Next Level of Blockchain Abstraction

CKB is an abstraction of Ethereum, just as Ethereum is an abstraction of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin, as a pioneering first generation of blockchain technology, has forged an immense path towards a new digital dawn. But, like with any technology there is always going to be evolution — or in the case of this discussion, abstraction. 

Ethereum is the most successful abstraction of Bitcoin and altcoins, and sprung up as a result of new projects trying to extend Bitcoin. The reason for Ethereum’s success is that it solved thousands of problems systematically while others were trying to solve only one at a time. The platform has laid down a path for blockchain evolution and set the direction for the next level of blockchain abstraction. 

In an fascinating deep dive into Blockchain Abstraction and Interoperability 2.0. Nervos Chief Architect Jan Xie discussed how he sees blockchain evolving and how Nervos, with its power to create Universal Applications, can be “…An abstraction of Ethereum, just as Ethereum is an abstraction of Bitcoin.”

The Next Evolution

Jan explains that while Ethereum certainly forged the path for extending Bitcoin, and thus blockchain, it does not necessarily mean that the journey ends here. 

“I would argue that new abstraction is the hallmark of evolution and that the next-generation blockchain must be more abstract than its predecessor. The Bitcoin to Ethereum leap was the first blockchain abstraction, and I believe it won’t be the last. As for how the post-Ethereum era might resemble, one should initially think about what can be abstracted further away from Ethereum,” he explained. 

So, if the end goal of blockchain is building a new decentralized ecosystem then it is akin to creating a new universe and with that comes the creation of physical rules. Ethereum has made choices that define these rules, but not all of them are infallible. 

Jan uses an example where, with Ethereum, the chosen sender authentication algorithm (secp256k1) is convenient for designers but poses unnecessary obstacles for using Ethereum in environments without Secp256k1 support. 

However, with on CKB and its drive to be a new level of abstraction, users and developers are not limited to the default authentication algorithm and can change it, which is an abstraction aimed at easier use. 

Furthermore, the CKB Virtual Machine  is abstract and has zero precompiles in it, the cell model of the CKB blockchain is abstract where a cell is simply storage without any internal structure, leaving its layout to developers thanks to sUDTs and xUDTs

“Since CKB is abstract in many regards, developers are granted greater freedoms and new abilities. CKB is an abstraction of Ethereum, just as Ethereum is an abstraction of Bitcoin.” Jan summarized.

Interoperability 2.0 and Universal Applications

It is our belief, at Nervos, that in order to head towards a new global decentralized economy we need a future with multiple permissionless blockchains, permissioned blockchains, and centralized systems working together to create a universal internet-like public network.

Taking the next level of blockchain abstraction would lead to a powerful interoperability solution, one which we envisage as a “universal hub” which could interact with any other blockchain without being noticed by the other blockchains.

We are already demonstrating this new abstraction with our interoperability solution by showing how an Ethereum user can use their Metamask wallet to operate assets or dapps on Nervos CKB today, without any manual settings, without even noticing they are using Nervos applications. 

“No worries if you find out that your favourite chain is not in the list yet, you can simply create and deploy smart contracts for it (or wait/pay a smart contract developer to do it for you). No pleas to the core team and/or hard fork needed, all can be done with smart contracts,” adds Jan.

Applications that run on Nervos get this powerful interoperability solution for free; they get unparalleled user reach, the ability to access any aset on any chain, and code flexibility which allows for code to be ported from anywhere. This is what makes an app on Nervos a Universal Application. 

A New Metropolis

“Many modern metropolises sprung from being hubs of trade routes or harbours. Venice, New York, Hongkong, Shanghai and Singapore all emerged as highly commercialized cities by virtue of their harbours” Jan explains

“GPS, freighters and containers are the interoperate technology we use to shift assets between cities in the industrial age, but now we have crypto assets, blockchains and interoperability 2.0.” 

“Better interoperability brings more immigrants, more businesses, and more vitality to cities. Skyscrapers will pop up, cargos will be shipped, assets will be kept, people will stay, and a new metropolis will be born.”

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