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Brains of Crypto: Can Agoric Change the Crypto World with Javascript for Good?

Daniel Urbánek
Daniel Urbánek
June 22, 2023
Interview

Discover how Agoric is bridging the gap between Web2 and Web3 developers in this insightful interview covering the interchain, smart contracts, and much more.

For our latest in-depth discussion with the pioneers of the blockchain world, we are privileged to have Dean Tribble, CEO of the Agoric Operations Committee, one of the teams leading the charge in building Agoric, a groundbreaking platform offering a swift, secure, and accessible environment for creating decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts using JavaScript.

In our conversation, we delve into the often mysterious world of the interchain, the community-owned decentralized ecosystem at the heart of the Cosmos network, and how it’s paving the way for a more decentralized and egalitarian internet of value by focusing on interoperability and autonomy.

We explore where Agoric fits into this revolutionary ecosystem, the unique value it brings, and how it's making Web3 more accessible to Web2 developers through its JavaScript-based platform.

Let’s dive into the future of decentralized finance, non-fungible tokens, gaming, autonomous organizations, and more, all through the lens of Agoric's innovative technology and its vision for the interchain.

To provide some context, could you elaborate on what exactly is the Cosmos interchain?

Cosmos is a rapidly growing ecosystem of sovereign blockchains that can scale and interoperate with each other. Thanks to advancements made on the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol, chains in Cosmos can freely communicate with each other and process transactions, all while maintaining their sovereignty. 

Agoric is a Proof-of-Stake chain and JavaScript smart contract platform operating in the Cosmos ecosystem. The Agoric Operations Committee, or OpCo, is a company focused on building the Agoric blockchain.

Is it actually beneficial to have multiple, highly specified chains like Cosmos rather than multiple applications on one monolithic chain?

Multiple interconnected blockchains speak to the heart of the decentralized ethos. One of the key benefits of the interchain is that it enables developers to build autonomous application-specific blockchains without high transaction fees or a congested network. You can simply build with your own vision in mind, rather than functioning as a smart contract or application on someone else’s chain. 

Other players in the blockchain industry typically utilize one large chain, and much like the wider industry, this often results in siloed development. Interoperability spurs creativity and innovation and enables a variety of use cases and applications that just wouldn’t be possible on one large chain.

Why did you choose Cosmos SDK over the Ethereum Virtual Machine to build Agoric?

Ethereum was originally designed and built as one single synchronous engine with one execution occurring at a time. Many of the security problems we typically see in DeFi are due to the fundamental architectural elements of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which are insurmountable – meaning you can't change them without breaking them.

Cosmos SDK offers security-focused interoperability with one of the fastest-growing blockchain ecosystems. The Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol (IBC), co-developed by the Agoric OpCo, lets the Agoric programming model operate across chains, with access to the protocols, liquidity, and assets based in the Cosmos ecosystem and beyond. 

What are some of the unique features that would attract users and developers to the Agoric network?

The Agoric developer experience using Hardened JavaScript is familiar, composable, and safe. Currently, DeFi applications mainly consist of Web2 front-ends built-in JavaScript connected to Web3 smart contract backends built in Solidity, with no consistent connection. Agoric brings the dominant Web2 programming language to smart contract development Thanks to Hardened JavaScript. This means faster build and deployment times, access to a significantly increased talent pool of developers with JavaScript experience, and a rich library of community-built components ready to plug into your applications.

One of Agoric’s unique features seems to be the Zoe smart contract framework. What is Zoe and how does it benefit users on Agoric?

Agoric’s Zoe Framework is a tool designed to simplify smart contract development while maintaining security best practices for the network. Zoe provides offer-safety and payout-liveness guarantees which act as additional assurances that users will get what they want from a transaction or get back what was originally offered, significantly reducing the risk to contract parties. The framework provides for Web3 developers building on the Agoric platform the same kind of modern, pluggable component framework they’ve come to expect and are comfortable building with as it dominates Web2 development.

A major hope for the Agoric protocol is that it will help developers by making blockchain more accessible. What role does Agoric play in a developer’s transition from Web2 to Web3?

The Agoric ecosystem as a whole is deeply committed to fostering a developer’s transition from Web2 to Web3. The technology stack is designed to be a powerful tool in the hands of any developer seeking to architect decentralized solutions. Agoric’s JavaScript roots mean the mental model for building on the platform isn’t too far of a stretch from what developers are used to today; couple that with pre-built composable contracts and developers can create applications faster and more efficiently. Not only is their transition to Web3 less painful, but it also results in significant time and cost savings. We believe in equipping developers to build the future of the decentralized web, and Agoric is designed to be their stepping stone into the world of Web3.

Can you explain the consensus mechanism of the Agoric chain and the economy behind it? How does it work in conjunction with Cosmos's Proof of Stake model?

Agoric uses Tendermint as its consensus engine and is running on top of Cosmos SDK. Thus, Agoric is connected to the wider interchain ecosystem and liquidity on Cosmos via the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol (IBC). Tendermint has a long history as one of the most robust Proof of Stake consensus mechanisms, offering fast finality with a robust, modular framework for building applications. Connection to the wider Cosmos ecosystem through the IBC means expanded market access and larger pools of liquidity for applications built on Agoric.

Could you elaborate more on the roles of the IST stable token and the BLD staking token in Agoric's ecosystem?

IST or the ‘Inter Stable Token’ is an over-collateralized, economically tested stable token for the Cosmos ecosystem on the Agoric platform. Because it maintains parity to the US Dollar, IST provides users with a constant, reliable, predictable medium of exchange to pay for services and network fees, reducing a lot of the friction typically associated with interacting with blockchain networks.

The BLD (pronounced like “build”) staking token secures and governs the Agoric chain and economy. BLD stakers are rewarded through BLD token issuance as well as fees generated by Inter Protocol. For a self-reinforcing economy to emerge in an ecosystem, both a reliable stable medium of exchange in the form of a stablecoin and safe execution of smart contracts through robust native staking securing the network is essential. Agoric provides both through IST and BLD.

What are some other dApps being built on the Agoric chain that get you excited?

There are numerous dApps building on the Agoric chain currently, such as:

  • Calypso - developed by ​​Joe Schnetzler, Calypso is an interchain trading terminal to research and manage your DeFi portfolio across 50+ chains.
  • KREAd - a character builder dApp developed by Kryha, in which all produced visual assets are NFTs. Users have the tools to build their own digital avatars and to administrate the ownership of all the equipment attached to their characters.
  • AgreeWe - easy-to-use agreements for start-ups, DAOs, and Web3 communities to hire developers on a per-project basis in exchange for a traditional or token payment without the need for a conventional employment contract.
  • Crabble - in development by Bytepitch, Crabble’s marketplace aims to give NFTs more utility through short-term rentals. 

The roadmap for the Agoric platform is packed full of milestones. How successful have you been so far in completing your goals?

Our milestones to date have realized the Agoric vision as set in the original whitepaper. Our next major software release, Mainnet-1B, promises to enhance the node operator experience, offer a reliable price feed with an all-new Oracle network, enable smart contract upgrades, and major improvements to the Agoric VM. After the release of Mainnet-1B, Agoric will transition to focus its efforts on its Mainnet-2 phase for the deployment of permissioned applications on-chain. 

Additionally, following substantial development efforts, Inter Protocol launched their first application on Agoric, the Parity Stability Module (PSM). Agoric is now actively supporting the development of Vaults, Inter Protocol’s new minting application, which should go live June 2023. 

Chainboard Academy recently hosted an inaugural Agoric boot camp. Over a 10-week course, the Academy is educating 15 students without prior Web3 experience in Hardened JavaScript. The goal of the boot camp is to equip participants with the skills to deploy their own applications on Agoric, marking a strong step forward in cultivating the next generation of Web3 developers.

Can you let us in on some interesting releases that are planned for the near future?

There are many exciting developments coming down the pipeline for the community and anyone following the Agoric journey. The best ways to stay up to date on new releases to the Agoric protocol are to follow us on Twitter, join our Discord, or get involved in our Community forum. And if you’re in the New York City area, we have an upcoming event where guests can meet some of our team members.

Disclaimer: The content of this piece reflects the writer's opinion. This article is not intended to provide financial advice and is meant solely for entertainment and educational purposes. Investing in cryptocurrency involves significant risk. Capital is at risk, and returns are not guaranteed. Always conduct your own research.

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