Watch Hal Finney's 1998 Talk on ZK-proofs.

September 21, 2023

A nostalgic moment for blockchain enthusiasts.

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GM 👋

This is the Smoothie Newsletter.

Heard Token2049 this year was great!

Last year felt like it was too money focused (how many more market makers do we need?)

I heard that there were more builders/developers this year.

I’m also seeing activity from people who have been quietly building.

Excited to see progress in the upcoming months 👀

Matt & Vineet

An old 1998 video of Hal Finney discussing ZK-proofs theory has surfaced on the “web3“ internet.

ZK-proof systems first appeared in a 1985 whitepaper.

Watching this video feels like being in a time capsule and how today’s blockchain technology was just a theory 2-3 decades ago.

Assumed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the Bitcoin creator, Hal Finney is discussing the idea of performing zero-knowledge proof on a SHA-1 hash to be inefficient and impractical.

Hal Finney, then, goes on to introduce 2 theories:

1) Zero Knowledge “Arguments”, where the prover's privacy is protected unconditionally

2) Zero Knowledge “Proofs”, where the prover is unconditionally bound

These are more efficient and practical, according to him.

Back to 2023

Since then, more work has been done on these lines.

Currently, there are 2 popular zk-proof technologies:

1) zkVMs (zero-knowledge virtual machines)

2) SNARKs (Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge).

They both allow participants to prove that their transactions are legitimate without revealing certain details of the transactions.

They are both scalable and offer privacy benefits.

However, according to a16z research partner, Justin Thaler, existing SNARK technology can be improved significantly.

“Current SNARK implementations are sufficiently complicated, they’re almost certainly full of bugs, which could make them useless security-wise,” Thaler said.

“We’re talking 10s, 1000s of lines of code, very difficult to understand, and it’s very, very hard to imagine there is not a single bug in these code bases.”

Our Takeaway

Technologies can take decades to realize.

It’s good to remember how far we’ve come since the introduction of zk-proofs in 1985.

Hopefully, in the near future, the idea of a decentralized economy with 100% privacy of transactions will be possible.

If you’re not sure why decentralization and privacy are important, check this.

What a time to be in this industry!


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