In this slogging AMA, we had the chance to chat with Adrian Brink and Christopher Goes, the founders of Heliax. If you are looking for some answers about privacy, financial sovereignty, and MEV protection, this is the AMA for you.
This Slogging thread by Sara Pinto, adrian, Jack Boreham, Christopher Goes and Abeer occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.
Hey @channel, please join me in welcoming our next AMA guests, Adrian and Christopher Goes. Both are founders of Heliax, a blockchain research, development, & product company bringing financial sovereignty and privacy to the world.
Please feel free to ask our guests anything about:
Hey adrian and Christopher Goes! It's great to have you here with us. To start the AMA, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and your career background?
What led you to create Heliax? adrian Christopher Goes
Hey! Glad to be here 🙂
Also Heliax is putting all of this research and development into practice in building Anoma, an L1 blockchain for human coordination and financial privacy & sovereignty.
I can give it a start!
I got into Ethereum in 2016/2017 while I was writing my graduate thesis. I built a secure e-voting solution on Ethereum using RSA keys. The idea was that given a censorship resistant platform, you could allow individuals in Tunisia (or Catalonia) to hold referendums independent of their central government.
That lead to working on consensus implementation, building one of the first PoS validators in existence to eventually Anoma.
Anoma really came out of the idea that we have all these smart contract platforms and we don’t know what to use them for. There are like 15 actual contracts written by 100 developers and that’s mostly it.
However with decentralized tech we can also build tools that allow 1000s of people to coordinate effectively while also giving them financial privacy and sovereignty guarantees. That led to the whitepaper in 2021 (https://anoma.network/papers/whitepaper.pdf) which goes into much more detail
Sara Pinto - In college I worked on autonomous underwater submarines, but it turned out their only applications in industry were military, which wasn’t really my thing, so after college I did a bunch of independent research into decentralised technology and played around with various platforms including Ethereum (worked on the Wyvern Protocol which ended up being used by OpenSea) and Tezos (the starting seeds of the Juvix language as well as the one of the first networks validated by Cryptium Labs), before joining Tendermint/Cosmos for awhile to work on IBC - a prerequisite for a many-chain world. After Cosmos I really wanted to focus on coordination, which I think is the primary use case of blockchains - Anoma is a protocol stack designed specifically with coordination in mind (I would consider privacy and self-sovereignty essential components of a capable coordination mechanism).
adrian Christopher Goes, hi, great to have you here. So what do you mean by financial sovereignty? Isn't this nearly impossible to achieve? How does your platform try to do this?
Modern censorship resistant and decentralized blockchains go a long way to make financial sovereignty at an individual level quite feasible. As soon as you start adding privacy preserving tech (transactional privacy (private transfers) & computational privacy (private applications/compute)) you can achieve almost full sovereignty because the public doesn’t know what you own/do and your assets/compute happen on a censorship resistant base layer
Nice question Jack Boreham
Thank you for your detailed answer adrian!
I'm a newbie in many tech subjects, and since you mentioned financial privacy, I have to ask: how could one guarantee privacy? How are Heliax and Anoma working on that? Christopher Goes
Thank you for your answer Christopher Goes! Quite the journey
Privacy is guaranteed by a Zero-Knowledge Proof. It is mathematically ensured that the prover (author of a transaction) doesn’t leak any data the an observer.
The above blog post goes into some more detail on it.
Heliax is a vertically-integrated company designed to build the vertically-integrated protocol stack of Anoma 😉 following the law of “technical structure mirrors organisational structure”
Christopher Goes has mentioned coordination mechanisms. Can you guys further explain this topic? adrian
On the topic of coordination mechanisms - we’re particularly interested in helping people interacting with complex economic systems (that’s pretty much all of us 😉 ) understand the impacts of their actions and send credible signals of their preferences to other entities on different points along the supply chain. Right now, there are a lot of multipolar traps, where companies are competitively selected for on the basis of how cheaply they can supply a product (or how well they can craft advertising) without concern to other values people might have (such as greenhouse gas emissions or damage to the epistemic commons). Consider the choice of which soft drink to purchase at a corner store - one might be tempted to buy the cheapest Coke on offer, but perhaps it is cheaper only because the company producing the plastic bottle for the drink in question found a way to produce cheaper bottles - but emitting more pollution - than the other company which refused to use this production practice. Absent a mechanism which would allow the end consumer to incorporate their preference (of a liveable environment), purchasing on the basis of price creates a selection effect whereby the companies which sacrifice all other values in order to lower price (or increase addiction, etc.) will beat companies which don’t. Anoma’s hypothesis here is to craft a mechanism where users can write down their preferences (digitally), and both see with purchases some of these other impacts (pollution emissions) and also commit not to purchasing products which contribute to externalities which they consider harmful, thereby changing the incentives for upstream suppliers (if they keep producing products involving so much emissions, they will no longer have any customers).
Hey adrian and Christopher Goes. Great to have you here! I still have a lot to learn about blockchain. Could you explain MEV and MEV protection?
We have developed a DKG (distributed key generation) protocol called Ferveo, that allows the validators to generate a joint public key and decrypt an infinite number of transactions that are encrypted against that public key. This means that users can encrypt their txs against the public key, validators create blocks with ordered but encrypted transactions, and on the next block the validators decrypt all those transactions. Since the transactions are already ordered when they are decrypted, it is impossible for someone to front-run them.
Thank you for answering our questions adrian and Christopher Goes. That’s a wrap on our AMA. Do you have any closing thoughts?
Thanks Sara Pinto and all! I do realise that Anoma can be quite nebulous sometimes, here’s hoping that we’ll be able to coalesce around unified definitions now and into the future 🙂
Anoma is a moonshoot. What we are building is something that is fundamentally new, both in terms of architecture and goals as well as potential impact. It is complex and hard to grasp in the beginning, but most worthwhile things are not trivial and it takes time to understand them.
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