Permissionless Innovation: The Foundation For A Thriving Blockchain Ecosystem

AudoJune 10, 2019

Permissionless Innovation

The boom of proprietary platforms has led to the centralization of the Internet. Such platforms go against the open source ethos, and tend to lock-in both users and developers under the arbitrary constraints and whims of the platform's owners.

The Internet should remain equally accessible to entrepreneurs, developers, and other independent creators. Blockchain technology has promised to reverse this trend and provide us with the necessary tools and technologies to build a truly open Internet ecosystem. However, many of the blockchain platforms have partly fallen to the same gated-garden mentality. How can we do better?

The Rise of Closed Platforms

Internet might be open at its core, but it has become increasingly centralized. Most modern platforms are closed-source and heavily guarded from competition. To a degree, the Internet today is a group of gated communities, which remain isolated from each other.

That is not how the Internet was envisioned decades ago, as described by Chris Dixon in his wired.com article:

As the Internet has evolved over its 35-year lifespan, control over its most important services has gradually shifted from open source protocols maintained by non-profit communities to proprietary services operated by large tech companies. As a result, billions of people got access to amazing, free technologies. But that shift also created serious problems.

Why did this happen? In short, the Internet lacked the technologies necessary to enable a fully decentralized and open environment. This gave proprietary platforms an edge that allowed them to act as a trusted middlemen and take control of the Internet itself.

After the launch of Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technology, a new hope was born. For the first time, the open source community had all the necessary tools to realize the vision of a truly open Internet-- a vision also known as Web 3.0. Still, blockchain technology has a long way to go.

The key to building an open ecosystem is a concept we call permissionless innovation. In essence, it means that an entrepreneur can build atop an open-source platform without permission from or payment to those who developed the platform itself. It means never having to worry about the terms and conditions of building on a particular platform suddenly changing, thus disabling an entrepreneur's technology and business.

Blockchain Technology As The Solution

Blockchain combines the societal benefits of open protocols with the financial and architectural benefits of proprietary networks. The result is an open ecosystem without silos, barriers, or other arbitrary limitations; an ecosystem that will eventually make the currently dominant gated-garden business model obsolete.

What then are the key technologies that blockchain has to offer? To name a few: decentralized identity and user authentication, cross-platform interoperability, shared user base, provable history, immutability, and of course trustless value exchange and other financial services.

This vision is becoming increasingly popular as the blockchain industry matures. Already, we are seeing an evolution from smart contract platforms to multi-chain platforms. Now, there are a dozen platforms competing to provide the infrastructure layer for the next few decades, Komodo being one of them.

All blockchain platforms are permissionless to a degree. All of them are a giant upgrade to the existing, server-client models. However, there are also crucial differences, and we believe the solution that provides the most sovereignty will emerge as the winner.

Sovereignty clearly sets Komodo apart from all the others, but it’s not just about the technology. The values on open source and decentralization are in Komodo’s DNA. We have embraced the concept of permissionless innovation and are looking to build a superior solution without any arbitrary limitations.

Permissionless Innovation Through Multi-Chain Architecture

You might think that preventing projects from using a platform is not a limitation, rather a useful feature. After all, who would like to see the technology used by bad actors and criminals? Wouldn’t it be better if we reserve the right to block them?

The problem is that if someone holds the keys to change the underlying architecture, they inevitably will. This might mean excessive censorship or it might mean designing economic models to enrich the platform owners. It might take 10 years or 30 years but eventually the rules will be twisted to serve special interests.

Simply put, if an ecosystem is worth billions of dollars, a few very small changes can turn it into a money making machine serving a just a few people. What was envisioned to remain open would eventually become a walled garden where the established players want to protect themselves from future competition and are appealing to the platform authorities to push through a set of changes that they have outlined. Before we know it, we all find ourselves using a platform that is no longer open.

It is vitally important that the future Internet’s platforms and ecosystems are based on architecture no one controls entirely. We have to build an open source future that guarantees to maintain the values of openness and accessibility, and this is why we believe sovereign blockchains are the superior solution.

We vision a world where millions of interconnected sovereign blockchains work together. Together they create a globally interconnected ecosystem, but each project remains in full control of its tech stack. It is a platform that anyone can extend and contribute to, a platform that is open source and welcomes community contributions.

We call this an open platform.

Characteristics Of An Open Platform

We have sought to build an open platform with a vision of an industry where projects collaborate together to build the next generation of blockchain technology.

The open platform provides an underlying set of technologies, tools, and services that accelerate the development of higher level market-ready solutions. Here is what we consider to be the key requirements of an open platform:

  • Autonomy. Businesses need autonomy to succeed. All projects should control their own blockchain.
  • Flexibility. Blockchain tech must meet all individual needs and remain flexible, even after implementation.
  • Simplicity. Blockchain tech should be easy to adopt and update.
  • Reliability. Businesses need investment protection and blockchain must evolve to meet future needs, including the unforeseen.

What does this all mean in practice? Let’s dive deeper into what we mean by ‘open platform’.

No vendor lock-in. Projects and businesses maintain complete independence and can detach themselves from the platform at any time.

No gas model. An open platform is blockchain agnostic. There are no parent chain nor gas fees to pay. Each project can customize the transaction fees as they see fit, and scale out at any time to meet the growing demand without affecting any other project that is building on the same platform.

Open Architecture. An underlying composable architecture allows anyone to contribute and extend the platform offering. The technology updates won’t necessarily come from the core Komodo team. Anyone can build new functionality that is then available for the whole ecosystem.

Open Standards. All Smart Chains share the same standard and thus drive the blockchain industry towards cohesion and integration, while at the same time staying backwards compatible with the existing Bitcoin infrastructure.

Open API. Komodo’s vision around composable architecture provides a unified API across the underlying infrastructure, which then empowers entrepreneurs by giving them free hands to innovate without restrictions on top of the open source platform.

Open Source. Nowadays everyone is accustomed to using proprietary platforms. However, by staying 100% open source, we will enable innovation that will build enormous value and a network effect that cannot be competed against, just like no one can compete against the Open Internet of today with a closed source version of it.

Towards The Komodo Multi-Chain Vision

Whatever the future world will look like in 10 to 30 years should not be determined by a single project or a group; but rather a multitude of communities and businesses each contributing to the ecosystem. A thriving blockchain space needs multiple independent actors who share the same vision.

Our mission is not only to develop the underlying technology components but also to inspire others by creating ideal conditions for a large-scale network effect.

Because of the open platform architecture, there can be countless second layer solution providers leveraging the underlying Komodo technology and providing more industry-specific offerings. For example, there could be a solutions integrator platform focusing on supply chain solutions, and an enterprise client that uses the underlying Komodo technology through the third-party supply chain platform provider.

We expect to get a lot of interest from developers who want to use this exceptional degree of freedom to build the products of the future. A freedom to innovate, compete, and succeed.

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