Zero Knowledge Proofs as Technological Catalyst for Web3 Innovation
ZKP for Web3 Innovation
Web3 is considered by many as the next generation of the internet. To live up to the hype, it must walk the talk when it comes to new frontiers of innovation in the digital domain. As Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKPs) come to the fore, Web3 may soon take advantage of these protocols as technological catalysts that make possible a wider variety of blockchain technology’s innovations.
Let’s explore some prominent ZK-variations in which ZKP can transform Throughput, Data Ownership, Trust Bridges and Autonomous Privacy for the benefit of the Web3 space.
ZkAccelerator for Latent Throughput
Blockchain scalability is a prerequisite if Web3 is to enter mainstream use. In order for Web3 to scale, its networks need to have high latency and throughput. Latency refers to the duration it takes for a packet of data to reach its destination. In other words, latency denotes the data transmission speed of a network which is usually measured in Round Trip Time (RTT) or Time to First Byte (TTFB). Throughput refers to the number of data packets that a network is able to process within a specified period of time. In other words, throughput denotes the data processing speed of a network, usually measured in transactions per second (TPS).
Leading the charge for the use of ZKP to support the scalability of Web3 is Ingonyama, a company that is pioneering the use of hardware accelerators for zero-knowledge cryptography. By combining the use of mathematical chip designs and advanced algorithms, Ingonyama is using a multidisciplinary approach to address the issue of computational bottlenecks faced by ZKP networks. Their goal is to set the industry benchmark for ZKP hardware acceleration by developing a first-of-its-kind Zero-Knowledge Processing Unit (ZPU) that would pave the way for the mainstream use of Web3. Ingonyama’s most recent contribution to open-sourced ZK hardware development is a GPU library for accelerating ZK primitives called ICICLE.
Ingonyama is accelerating ZKP in Web3 in two ways:
- First, by boosting the latency and throughput of ZKP networks through the use of cryptography hardware accelerators.
- Secondly, by lowering the barriers to entry to the use of ZKP technology by harnessing economies of scale and scope through the development of a base layer on which developers can build ZKP applications in a cost-effective manner.
Graphical Depiction of ZKP Hardware Accelerator (Source: Twitter.com/@Ingonyama)
ZkAI for Data Ownership
Under the creator economy of Web3, the ownership of user-generated content (UGC) would belong to the user creators themselves. This stands in contrast with the arrangement under the Web2 framework whereby ownership rights of UGC are reposed in the platform operators, notably the Big Five Tech Giants of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft. The use of walled gardens by these Tech Giants enables them to have complete control over the content generated or distributed using their platforms. This element of control enables them to effectively create a monopoly by restricting access to the content on their respective platforms based on prescribed terms and conditions, designed with the aim of reinforcing their dominant market positions.
All this is poised to change with the advent of crypto-powered AI under the banner of Web3. A notable use case in this regard is CryptoGPT , which is an AI-dedicated zk-rollup Layer-2 blockchain that uses unique on-chain NFTs to store data generated by web users. In contrast with the monetization of user data by Web2 platforms, CryptoGPT web users themselves to have ownership of, and control over, their data including monetization. Using the CryptoGPT Launcher, web users will be able to store their data in a capsule, with the option of granting access to third parties to their data, possibly in return for a fee.
CryptoGPT Roadmap (Source: CryptoGPT.org)
ZkBridge as Trust Bridges
With cryptocurrencies as the financial bedrock of Web3, interoperability of blockchain networks will be a key factor in the mainstreaming of Web3. Thanks to the advent of cross-chain bridges, it is now possible for cryptocurrencies to traverse blockchain networks. However, the use of these bridges whose operations are dependent on trust assumptions has brought about a new set of security risks. Case in point is that recurring attacks against these bridges have resulted in losses amounting to USD 2 billion as of August last year.
ZkBridge offers a technological solution through the use of a groundbreaking design that dispenses with the need for trust assumptions for the operations of cross-chain bridges. zkBridge work by usings a modular design framework that uses on-chain light client nodes for the verification process prior to the passing of messages or transfer of tokens. In addition to being more secure, zkBridges are also faster, as the proof generation process takes less than 20 seconds, as well as being more economical as the costs expenditure for the verification of on-chain proofs of an average cross-chain bridge operator could be reduced from USD80M to less than USD230K.
Technical Layers of zkBridge (Source: ZkHacking.org)
ZkDAO for Autonomous Privacy
The use of ZKP allows the verification of identities in the digital domain to be done without the need to disclose the underlying details. This helps protect the privacy of Web3 users. In addition to user privacy, ZKP can facilitate the autonomy of Web3 users through the concept of zkDAO. The functional combination of ZKP technology with the concept of DAO in the form of zkDAO plays a key role in ensuring that the innovation brought about by Web3 would be aligned with the wishes of the majority.
In essence, zkDAO aims to incorporate the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) as part of the zkSync ecosystem. For the benefit of the uninitiated, zkSync is a Layer 2 scaling solution that uses zk-rollups to offer low gas fees and speedy processing times for transactions carried out on the Ethereum network. This renders the mainstream use of Web3 to be feasible from the perspective of financial costing and technical efficiency. In line with the community-centric nature of DAO frameworks, zkDAO allows community members to have say on matters relating to the developmental roadmap, provision of fundings and liquidity, as well as reinvestment of proceeds of a ZKP protocol. In this manner, Web3 users can have their say on matters relating to the zkSync ecosystem through which their privacy is secured.
ZkSync Ecosystem (Study.BitKeep.com)
If Web3 is to work its magic, it would first have to be of mainstream use, and the proliferation of ZKP hardware accelerators would fit like a glove in this regard. Not only would the use of ZKP help pave the way for the mainstream use of Web3, the use of the technology in the form of zkAI and zkBridge could help return data ownership to web users themselves and facilitate the building of trust bridges in the crypto-powered financial sphere of Web3. Last but not least, the use of zkDAO would facilitate the element of autonomy in the privacy protection frameworks of Web3 users. In this manner, ZKP could well be the technological catalyst for Web3 innovation