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Chainlink’s latest vision calls for everybody to be able to deploy every executable on its network.
Chainlink (LINK) has unveiled its new whitepaper on Thursday, which details a planned expansion and pivot into creating oracle networks for computation. The proposal would see Chainlink generalize its oracle network into a “meta layer” of Decentralized Oracle Networks, or DONs.
The new architecture supports a larger selection of use cases, expanding its suite of services to off-chain computation of data. In Chainlink’s vision, these computational oracles would create a class of “hybrid smart contracts” where part of the logic could be offloaded to the oracles.
According to Sergey Nazarov, co-founder of Chainlink, the current oracle networks will continue to concentrate on tasks that blockchains or even layer-two networks are unable to handle. The Chainlink Verifiable Randomness Function is an established example of this mechanism, providing a critical component for any on-chain lottery that requires a trustworthy source of randomness. According to Chainlink, this dependency qualifies these applications as existing examples of hybrid smart contracts. “The DeFi contracts are already hybrid smart contracts, 95 percent of them — everything except the DEXs,” Nazarov said, relating to their use of external price feeds.
In the vision outlined in the whitepaper, Chainlink would generalize and extend its existing computational capabilities:
“The extension here is really in the fact that you can put an arbitrary executable in an oracle network for it to run that. And this greatly expands what an Oracle network can do.”
Chainlink, according to Nazarov, is not attempting to replace current blockchains or layer-two implementations. Its aim is to be a scalable and customizable data computing solution that can be used to scale current DApps or simply run rollup schemes and other layer-two solutions. Chainlink will provide each individual user with a selection of consensus structures and nodes from which to choose the confidence guarantees they need.
“The Chainlink network is a configurable set of validators that can be configured to do whatever the hell you want them to. […] It’s not a blockchain. They [the validators] don’t give you the state and all the guarantees of a blockchain, but they can give you every other type of computation that you want to configure them into doing.”
The functional applications of such a network will be primarily determined by what consumers want to do, but Chainlink anticipates that a variety of utilities will take precedence. The Fair Sequencing Service, a remedy against miner extractable value, or MEV, is one of these. The platform’s concept is to allow oracles to compute a “fair” sequence of transactions that minimises value extraction produced by front-running trades and other techniques. As Nazarov clarified, blockchains do not have a sense of time, which is why it is difficult to order transactions equally, and why oracle networks should help.
Oracle-based computing to aid such blockchain transactions is not inherently novel, with Chainlink being the most well-known source of advanced data. The Maker team recently suggested using its oracle for a similar reason, instantly checking the authenticity of an ambitious rollup and encouraging instant withdrawals from layer-two via Dai.
The latest Chainlink whitepaper also adds a slew of new features, including super-linear staking, which provides a more rigors incentive to report suspicious transactions. Bribing a Chainlink node to have false data becomes quadratically more costly as more stake is committed to the network through this mechanism. The scheme is based on statistical fraud proofs, which entitle observers to the total stake of all nodes if they correctly announce an instance of fraud. A prospective perpetrator will have to pay all watchers for the entire sum they stand to win, which would be much greater than the actual stake.
The new Chainlink network concept seeks to greatly simplify the implementation of smart contracts. Too many teams, according to Nazarov, are forced to construct core infrastructure only to help their DApp:
“I want them to just pop in and kind of build this hybrid smart contract really quickly, just the way they build it in the web world — you know, in a weekend. And they don’t have to figure all this shit out! That’s what I think the future is.”