Interview: Colin Steil Offers an Insight Into the Cartesi Project

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The Cartesi project has been making waves in the crypto and blockchain industry as it aims to make dApps more practical and scalable so that it can meet the ever-evolving real-world requirements. In order to understand more about the project, we asked Colin Steil, the COO and Co-founder of Cartesi a few questions.

Q: Let us start with the basic question so that we can get a better understanding of the project. What is Cartesi?

A: Cartesi is building an operating system for DApps. The project enables complex and intensive computations to run in a Linux environment, outside the blockchain, without compromising decentralization. Cartesi aims to make DApps significantly more powerful, easier to develop, and portable.

Cartesi aims to bring mainstream scalability and convenience to developers and users of decentralized applications.

Q: Why is Cartesi Unique?

A: Development limitations on blockchain platforms can frustrate both developers and users, turning them away. Cartesi allows developers to build on well-established software they are familiar with and run them in a Linux environment. The project aims to bridge the gap between the centralized and decentralized worlds of application development. Some of its key highlights include:

Scalability: Intensive computations on massive amounts of data are performed off-chain with the same security guarantees offered by the blockchain;
Programmability: DApp logic runs under Linux, and is coded with a choice of thousands of open-source software components available for Linux;
Ease of Adoption: Developers can work in a familiar environment using their favorite tools,  not limited by immature languages and runtime environments;
Decentralization: Consensus is securely reached on-chain with no need for a reputation protocol, Trusted Execution Environment, or servers controlled by a single party;
Portability: Cartesi aims to make DApps portable across the most important public blockchains that support smart contracts;
Privacy: DApp states can be kept private among application participants.

Q: Can you tell us more about how the Linux OS works in tandem with dApps, and how it is different from Linux distros available for general use?

A: Cartesi is unique in the sense that it allows decentralized applications to be run on Linux in a way that’s verifiable by the blockchain. Complex processing can be executed off-chain free from blockchains’  computational limits and corresponding fees.

By offering a Linux runtime environment, Cartesi is the only software-based verifiable off-chain compute system that gives developers a vast array of software that evolved in the last 30 years and that enables the applications we use on the Internet today.

On Cartesi, DApp logic runs on a virtual machine that emulates a RISC-V ISA. Just like on any embedded development, there are often two systems involved: the host system is where the development happens, and the target system is where the applications being developed ultimately run. This is called “cross-development”. We will provide a Docker image for developers to run on the host. This docker image will contain all the development tools needed pre-installed. It is currently based on Ubuntu 18.04, but will be upgraded to 20.04 soon. With it, developers can pick the components that will be part of the target application they are writing, including scripts and cross-compiled programs they may have written themselves. These components run inside an embedded Linux system that runs in the target. This is based on a customization of Buildroot. We plan to support other embedded Linux distributions in the future (OpenEmbedded/Yocto is in our wish-list).

Q: How does Cartesi achieve interoperability between different blockchains?

A: There are two aspects to this. First, Cartesi applications will be able to read and do complex calculations involving data from multiple sources. This will help interoperability between blockchains and services such as future and insurance markets.

In addition, Cartesi is initially built on Ethereum but has plans to be blockchain agnostic.  In this regard, Cartesi aims to make DApps portable across the most important public blockchains that support smart contracts so developers don’t have to worry about the longevity of specific blockchain projects.

Q: What are the applications of Cartesi and how different is it from other distributed computing solutions currently available in the market?

A: To avoid confusion, distributed computing is only one conceivable use case for Cartesi. Cartesi aims at solving a much larger problem regarding the current limitations and immaturity of available blockchains and DApp infrastructures. Development limitations on blockchain platforms frustrate both developers and users, turning them away. Cartesi allows developers to build DApps on well-established software they are familiar with and running them in a Linux environment. The project aims to bridge the gap between the centralized and decentralized worlds of application development.

Our first DApp, Creepts, is a fully decentralized tower defense game. This game showcases a fully decentralized game that was developed using conventional software stocks on Linux and also requiring billions of microprocessor instructions (and thus impossible to run on-chain): https://creepts.cartesi.io

In regards to competitors, Cartesi is a unique project in a certain way. TrueBit and Offchain Labs both have a similar protocol for off-chain computation that involves an interactive dispute resolution (verification game). However, in our case, we have different choices of virtual machine architecture and cryptoeconomic incentives in order to fulfill our vision. Namely, to provide DApp developers with a wealth of software infrastructure already available for Linux. In that respect, there’s no project that is similar to Cartesi currently.

Q: Why this approach? What influenced the creators to embark on this project?

A: Cartesi uses this approach as we believe DApp developers face a multitude of problems today, having to reinvent software stacks for blockchain that have already existed and have been matured for decades. This is exactly one of the reasons we are building Cartesi. No software application is built in isolation. Mainstream mobile/desktop/web Applications today depend on multiple software dependencies that took decades to mature on operating systems like Linux. Cartesi brings all this software infrastructure to blockchain applications. Whereas without Cartesi, blockchain applications cannot use mainstream software, libraries, and services, unless they sacrifice decentralization in some way.

Then, there’s the second problem. Besides being hampered by insufficient software infrastructure, decentralized applications also suffer tight on-chain processing limits. So, they can hardly offer a compelling alternative to mainstream centralized applications. They are often hard to build, being clunky and limited for developers and DApp users.

Cartesi solves these three problems by 1) offering developers the software and tools supported by a full Linux OS; 2) moving off-chain all the heavy computation over large amounts of data, that blockchains cannot do; 3) offering services and a token economy that allows users to securely rely on the network and remain free from inconveniences of blockchain tech (e.g. slow confirmation times, requirement to remain online to resolve disputes, and others).

The Cartesi founding team initially got into blockchain as a result of Augusto Teixeira (Chief Scientific Officer) being a colleague in research and having co-authored scientific publications with Serguei Popov. As Augusto is an expert in probability and graph theory, with strong game-theoretical background, Serguei Popov encouraged him to contribute to the blockchain movement by first introducing him to Bitcoin’s whitepaper.

Before the scope of Cartesi was defined as a generalized Linux infrastructure for scalable DApps, the original idea was to implement a decentralized data science and machine learning marketplace on the blockchain. This application required a deterministic off-chain compute infrastructure. After designing this, the Cartesi team was inspired by the possibilities of this Linux infrastructure, paving the way for Cartesi.

On Linux and Blockchains: https://medium.com/cartesi/on-linux-and-blockchains-a955a49a84e1

Q: What will be the impact of Cartesi on the future of dApps evolution?

A: We believe that Cartesi will change the future of DApps evolution, enabling an entirely new wave of DApps that were not possible before. Our vision is to make the development and use of DApps as close as possible to their centralized counterparts.

Key highlights of Cartesi DApps include:

  • Scalability: Intensive computations on massive amounts of data are performed off-chain with the same security guarantees offered by the blockchain;
  • Programmability: dApp logic runs under Linux, with a choice of thousands of open-source software components to mix and match;
  • Ease of Adoption: Developers can work in a familiar environment with no artificial limitations and with access to all their favorite tools;
  • Decentralization: Consensus is securely reached on-chain with no need for a reputation protocol, Trusted Execution Environment, or central servers on the cloud;
  • Portability: Cartesi aims to make dApps portable across the most important public blockchains that support smart contracts;
  • Privacy: dApp states can be kept private among application participants.

Q: We have seen the Creepts game. Are there any limitations to the kind of games that can be created using Cartesi infrastructure? Is it possible that we can see high-quality open world or MMORPG games on Cartesi in the future?

A: Once developers have a decentralized Linux infrastructure, they can use 30 years of open-source software evolution. The Cartesi VM also unleashes enormous computational power compared to the unscalable computation on blockchains. With Cartesi, game logic processing is performed off-chain, while the security guarantees of the blockchain are still maintained. Cartesi could offer a best-of-both-worlds solution to game devs: an efficiency much closer to what exists for centralized games with the decentralization of native blockchain games.

The DApp logic can be any generic program compiled for Linux on a RISC-V architecture. That covers a vast domain of possibilities. Of course, you can also use OS-level resources, like the file system. With each new feature that we bring to the Cartesi SDK, a broader range of game styles will be possible. The tournament is the simplest – because players are not interacting with each other directly. Next, we will make it easy to develop turn-based multiplayer games.

As we progress with the features we are developing along with the roadmap, more complex and sophisticated multiplayer games that are truly decentralized will become possible. RPG’s are in the radar.

For more info on Creepts: https://medium.com/cartesi/introducing-creepts-the-first-cartesi-dapp-374eee8ad914

Games with Cartesi: https://medium.com/cartesi/how-to-make-more-impressive-decentralized-games-120636cb5712

Q: Please give some insights on the tokenomics of CTSI tokens, listings etc.

A: Cartesi aims to bring mainstream scalability and power to decentralized applications through a network of nodes. The CTSI token has been designed to incentivize Cartesi Node operators to engage with the system honestly and in an efficient way.

Below are some quick-facts about CTSI and the Cartesi token economy:

  • Cartesi was the latest IEO through Binance’s Launchpad initiative
  • Amount Raised via Binance Launchpad Sale: 1,500,000 USD
  • Cartesi is listed on Binance for CTSI/BTC, CTSI/USDT, CTSI/BUSD & CTSI/BNB
  • Cartesi is listed on 15 exchange markets in total: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/cartesi/markets
  • Cartesi’s current market cap is ~$5,500,00 with a 20% circulating supply
  • Cartesi’s total unlock for 2020 will amount to less than 25% of the total supply
  • CTSI is a PoS side chain cryptocurrency, PoS details to be released soon
  • Total Supply: 1,000,000,000 CTSI
  • CTSI is an ERC-20 Token

For more information on the token economy: https://t.me/CartesiAnnouncements/167

Q: Anything else you would like our readers to know?

A: We encourage you to join our Telegram community: https://t.me/cartesiproject for any further questions or information that you are seeking.

Cartesi’s Ecosystem Links:

Website: https://cartesi.io
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cartesiproject
Telegram: https://t.me/cartesiproject
Discord: https://discordapp.com/invite/Pt2NrnS
GitHub: https://github.com/cartesi
Binance Research Report: https://research.binance.com/projects/cartesi

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