Orchid’s Dr. Steven Waterhouse and Jay Freeman Speak at ETHDenverMar 1, 2022
On Friday, February 18th, Orchid CEO Dr. Steven Waterhouse (Seven) and Head of Technology Jay Freeman (Sorek) both spoke at ETHDenver, the largest and longest-running Ethereum community event in the world. Seven's presentation focused on how the "punk" ethos of the early Internet is resurfacing in today's decentralized technology, while Jay's talk focused on how simple mistakes in code can have devastating effects on decentralized protocols.
Seven on the Early Internet, the Threat of Centralization, and Being Punk
Seven's talk kicked off with a few words about early Internet culture. "The early Internet was rooted in the idea of talking to who you wanted to talk to and doing what you wanted to do," Seven said. But the free and open landscape that made up the early Internet was eventually co-opted by centralized forces, leading to domination by concentrated power, censorship, and surveillance.
"Crypto gives us a shot at trying again. The concept of decentralization gives us the opportunity to build systems that are resistant to the forces that have co-opted the web."
Now, crypto has reached an inflection point. "Our space is being co-opted," Seven said. "Centralizing the technologies that we're building right now will just make things worse—it will make censorship and surveillance so much easier.
"Take central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). CBDCs are what's going to happen if governments co-opt this decentralized space and make it centralized. And it's not going to require much—just press a button and click.
"In an instant, all the transactions and funds in the crypto ecosystem will die. At that point, you're just locked in to a new kind of centralized power. Pick your institution. Pick your corporation or government.
"So really, the stakes could not be higher. If we get this wrong, I think we will build a worse world than we had before. So, please—let's not get it wrong. Let's embrace the concept of decentralization, and think about how to be more 'punk:' more revolutionary in the systems we build."
Click here to see Seven's full presentation.
Jay Freeman on the Mathematics of Sound Code
Jay opened his presentation with an anecdote about magic. "I spend a lot of time speaking at hacker conferences in places like Las Vegas, where you see magicians like Penn and Teller doing shticks that involve explaining how their tricks work," Jay said. "And sometimes, they do even more tricks, and don't tell you how any of them work.
"Similarly, there are a lot of aspects of cybersecurity that you can learn from learning how things work: walking through the code and seeing how a trivial mistake or incorrect thought process can lead to complete control of the system.
"Part of the reason why is because developers are, in essence, building mathematical abstractions—and as soon as you've made even a simple mistake, you've done the moral equivalent of assuming that one plus one is equal to three. Once you make an assumption like that, it can feel like it's possible to 'prove' anything you want.
"A lot of times, developers understate the importance of these minor-seeming mistakes. They can easily be compounded with other exploits to take control of your entire system."
Click here for Jay's entire talk.
Working Toward Digital Freedom
Orchid's decentralized VPN marketplace was built on the concepts explored by both Jay and Seven in their talks at ETHDenver. Our goal is to restore the Internet as a secure environment of freedom, exploration, and self-expression.
In pursuit of this goal, the Orchid team has designed tools to make Internet privacy as accessible as possible. Orchid's system of probabilistic nanopayments—which is available on eight EMV-compatible blockchains—is designed to ensure users always have access to ample bandwidth. And thanks to pre-filled accounts, any mobile or desktop user can start using Orchid with an ordinary credit card and just $1.
Download Orchid today to start exploring the Internet freely.