Proposal “dash-core-group-research“ (Completed)Back

Title:Dash Core Group Research
Owner:glennaustin
One-time payment: 345 DASH (23946 USD)
Completed payments: 1 totaling in 345 DASH (0 month remaining)
Payment start/end: 2019-07-17 / 2019-08-15 (added on 2019-07-10)
Votes: 931 Yes / 57 No / 1 Abstain
External information: app.dashnexus.org/proposals/dash-core-group-research/overview

Proposal description

Dash Core Group August 1st Funding Proposals
DCG is submitting 3 funding proposals for the August 1st budget cycle:
1) DCG Compensation: proposal posted in May: currently month 3 of 3
2) DCG Research: $50,000
3) DCG Infrastructure: $32,000

This Proposal
This is cross-posted here

Introduction:
Dash Core Group and Arizona State University have a great ongoing relationship connected through both the Dash sponsored Blockchain Research Lab (part of CASCADE) and Dash Core HQ location at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center. Ranked as the most innovative university in the United States, by U.S. News and World Report, ASU consistently strives to push the boundaries of education and seeks to partner with organizations and industry partners who are doing the same. Together, Dash and ASU can accelerate and leverage their on-going partnership to provide insight into the value of innovative technologies to improve the security of the Dash Network. With the upcoming introduction of identities on the Dash blockchain, it is imperative to study methods to ensure a proper balance is achieved between creating identities and maintaining privacy across a decentralized network.

This proposal seeks funding to renew our annual funding commitment to ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab and specifically to fund a research project which would investigate methods to apply zero-knowledge proofs to blockchain identities. It is possible Dash could leverage this research to apply zero-knowledge proofs to identity functions within the Dash network.

What is a zero-knowledge proof?
A zero knowledge proof (ZKP) is a protocol between two parties. The goal is for one party (the verifier) to be convinced by the other party (the prover) that a predicate (statement) is true without learning any information other than what can be inferred from the truth of the predicate. To make this characterization of ZKP concrete, we contrast it with a non-ZKP for the problem of identification. A simple non-ZKP solution to the identification problem is for a trusted third party to provide a certificate of identity to be presented when needed. The certificate would be accepted by anyone who trusts the third party. For example, if the credential is the age of the person, the certificate can include the age. If the credential is "older than 18", then a certificate of age would can be used to establish credential "older than 18". But using the actual age certificate divulges more information than is needed by the credential "older than 18". In addition to the person’s other identity information (such as address, sex, and eye color), this method also exposes the person’s birthdate (June 22nd, 1987). In the zero knowledge approach, the certificate can made so that it can be used in zero knowledge proofs for a credential that depend on age without divulging any additional information. In that case, using the certificate to establish the credential "older than 18" would only prove that the age is more than 18, but nothing else about the age would be divulged. If the credential is salary range, then a properly prepared certificate can be used in a zero knowledge proof to show that the salary is in the range 50k - 200k, for example, without disclosing the exact salary. The benefit of such an approach in the context of a distributed ledger is that the nodes will be able to verify the needed information without learning any information that is not needed. This is particularly important if some of the nodes are unscrupulous.

ZKPs have benefits for both individuals and businesses. For individuals, they provide greater privacy and safety, because an individual’s personal information (such as birthdate) can remain private. Businesses can benefit because ZKPs reduce the need for businesses to implement security measures to safeguard customer information, since specific information is never shared with the business.  This reduces both the cost of security and potential reputational risk associated with breach of security for the business.

Proposal:
This proposal is to provide a grant for specific blockchain research related to zero knowledge proofs on the Dash network.

Dash ZKP Research: $50,000
It is proposed that ASU will survey existing efforts on incorporating ZKP with distributed ledgers and identify their strengths and weaknesses. This will cover both commercial work (ING https://www.ingwb.com/, Altoros https://www.altoros.com/, EY https://www.ey.com/, Zcash https://z.cash/, and others) and academic work. ASU will also consider the problem of how ZKP can be incorporated into Dash and identify the factors that can affect deploying zero knowledge solutions in Dash.

Looking forward:
The future of blockchain technology is advancing quickly on the Dash network. The next major release will include blockchain-based identities to be leveraged for simplified payment solutions.    Together, the Dash Network and ASU can accelerate technological solutions around identities and the blockchain. Harnessing the combined power of ASU and our cross-disciplinary work, partnerships could include research across law, social sciences, economics, business and coding expertise.  

Treasury Funding and Disbursement:
This proposal uses Dash Core Group’s address as the payout address. Dash Core Group will convert $50,000 worth of the funds into USD and then grant those funds to the ASU Foundation under the Blockchain Research Lab. From there, the Blockchain Research Lab will store/disburse the funds to conduct research into zero knowledge proofs.

Conclusion:
We look forward to growing the research insights of Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) from the partnership between Dash and ASU. By looking at both academic work and commercial work, we can determine appropriate methods to improve the privacy and security of identity solutions on the Dash blockchain.

Requested funding is as follows for the August budget cycle:
· 340 Dash for research ($50,000 USD @ $147 per Dash)
·     5 Dash proposal reimbursement
Total: 345 Dash

Note: Should any funding remain, we will apply it toward future compensation expenses (since the research and compensation budgets recently merged).

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Discussion: Should we fund this proposal?

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0 points,2 months ago
Is this project about ensuring privacy or is it about creating anonymity?

According to European directives cryptocurrencies should not be anonymous. They also state that by making virtual currency anonymous it will only hinder the adoption of cryptocurrency. This project appears to be about making DASH transactions anonymous and therefore owners become unaccountable and untraceable. If that was to occur then DASH could be used by criminal organisations because it creates the environment they need. I feel it is important DASH has privacy but not anonymity. Transactions should be trackable with the right software otherwise DASH could attract the wrong type of user.

Here are some articles that explain what the EU position on anonymity in virtual currencies. They state anonymity will only reduce the ability for a virtual currency to become established - I think it is fair to say we are seeing this also outside of the EU e.g. Coinbase.

Do we really want to make DASH anonymous? In making it annonymous it will also mean that corrupt governments and financial institutions can hide illegal activity.

Here are some notes from the EU ammendments to their directives
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/A-8-2017-0056_EN.html?redirect

Competent authorities should be able to monitor the use of virtual currencies. This would provide a balanced and proportional approach, safeguarding technical advances and the high degree of transparency attained in the field of alternative finance and social entrepreneurship.

(7) The credibility of virtual currencies will not rise if they are used for criminal purposes. In this context, anonymity will become more a hindrance than an asset for virtual currencies taking up and their potential benefits to spread. The inclusion of virtual exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers will not entirely address the issue of anonymity attached to virtual currency transactions, as a large part of the virtual currency environment will remain anonymous because users can also transact without exchange platforms or custodian wallet providers. To combat the risks related to the anonymity, national Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) should be able to associate virtual currency addresses to the identity of the owner of virtual currencies. In addition, the possibility to allow users to self-declare to designated authorities on a voluntary basis should be further assessed.

There is also an article here however I cannot state if the quotes given are accurate in this article because I have not had chance to check the primary source information however the author gives links to articles

https://bravenewcoin.com/insights/eu-parliament-states-virtual-currencies-cannot-be-anonymous


I am all for financial privacy however, at the same time, I don't believe in anonymity because this opens up the possibility for DASH to be used by criminals without the authorities having any means of tracking down the perpetrators. In addition anonymity also means corrupt governments and financial institutes will be able to use anonymous coins for their illegal activity such as laundering money from human trafficking, drugs and illegal activity.

Who is making the decisions on the level of anonymity that DASH will have? And what basis are they making that decision? I feel any sort of decision like this needs to be debated with MNOs before we go ahead and start implementing technology that could potential damage the adoption of DASH.
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1 point,2 months ago
ASU is currently evaluating zero knowledge proofs that do not rely on a trusted setup.
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0 points,2 months ago
<These network parameters are needed to create the so called “zero-knowledge proofs”, which is the anonymizing mixer on the ZCash network. The “master private key”, referred to by Zooko as toxic waste, needed to be destroyed. If this data is not destroyed, someone who has access to this key is able to generate an infinite amount of anonymous ZCash.>
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0 points,2 months ago
Would rather see DCG use these funds to target getting us to the next level of consumer adoption in Venezuela (#1 ranked country by far right now for consumer willingness to switch to a new currency product)! Specifically focusing on getting Venezuelans to switch from the Bolivar to Dash
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0 points,2 months ago
b) regarding zero knowledge proofs, will this require the "trusted-setup" + "toxic waste problem" like with Zcash? (If answer is yes, then voters: why would we want to even take the 1st step of funding something this flawed?)
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3 points,2 months ago
This could be an easy plug and play option. They have Masternodes and copied/ or plan to copy our Chainlocks tech etc.
https://zcoin.io/zcoins-sigma-is-released/
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1 point,2 months ago
The previous research grant has provided:

1) How to scale dash responsibly and effectively.

https://blockchain.asu.edu/block-propagation-applied-to-nakamoto-networks/

2) It did allow us to test a graphene enabled DASH client.

3) We invented a new propagation protocol that is well suited for the DASH masternode network.

http://www.public.asu.edu/~hwbehren/papers/icbc-2019-velocity.pdf

4) ASU research had constructive feedback as to the how and why BLS signatures could and should be used.

With this proposal, ZKP will be researched with a view of applications to evolution. It is expected that this will allow much more functionality than private transactions on chain.
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1 point,3 months ago
@glennaustin Here is some feedback specifically to the DCG management. This feedback is not intended for the DASH developers who are devoted to DASH and the governance system.

DCG management you need to start responding to MNOs feedback in your proposals. You have not answered my feedback which I posted 4 days ago or other MNOs questions (see here: https://app.dashnexus.org/proposals/dash-core-group-research/discussion) part of your role @glennaustin and financial controller is in obtaining the funds for DCG and that involves submitting a funding proposal to the MNO for questions and debate. By choosing not to answer MNOs questions in these proposals you are doing DASH a great disservice. A key way of improving the return on investments made in these proposals is through constructive debate and feedback. It also calls in questions as to why are DCG remaining silent. Transparency is also essential to ensure funds are being spent in line with the network's wishes and also to set an example for all other proposal owners.

In a recent quarterly call the DCG mentioned they were concerned about why MNOs were no longer participating and they seemed to show concern about this.

Here are is just one of my reasons for losing interest in contributing. There is little point in taking time to read and provide feedback when our feedback is ignored. What is the point of having us spend valuable time to read DCG proposals and then provide feedback only to be ignored. There really is little point.

There are other reasons for MNOs not participating but this is most definitely one of them. Each reason for not participating accumulates until we reach the point of saying to ourselves "what is the point? My contribution here is of little to no value"

To MNOs I would ask that you consider voting "NO" on this proposal to send a message to DCG management that this behaviour is unacceptable. Your votes really do count. If you feel your vote and contribution is negligible think again. Transparency, collaboration, healthy debate, questions and feedback are the *only* way a decentralised governance system can work. If the current DCG management do not welcome and encourage this concept which is at the very heart of what DASH decentralised governance is about then perhaps we need to consider if the current DCG management really are right for our project.

If this approach continues I think we may need to address this issue with the DASH trust protectors for the reason that it is damaging to the DASH network and not in keeping with our decentralised governance policy.

Contrast the current situation to one in which the DCG management are receptive and responsive to feedback in a collaborative manner how much more confident would we all feel that the Dash project is being reliably managed. How much more would we be willing to contribute.

DCG management need to start respecting the DASH decentralised governance system policy which is the very heart of what makes DASH special.
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4 points,3 months ago
50K is a lot money for this type of project research.

When I was a Ph.D student I received sponsorship from a research grant equivalent to $2,000 per month (today's rates) to undertake research on behalf a corporate sponsor. The sponsorship covered a 2 year period. I also received some computer equipment and monthly visits to the sponsor along with my travel expenses to and from the sponsor. That level of grant for a student was classed as excellent at the time because that is a lot of money for a student. It also made certain that the focus of the project was on the research and not the money.

I do not see why we should be paying 50K to have a research student do a project for DASH when that project research also benefits ASU.

My questions are the following:

1. "hat would DASH network specifically be getting in terms of human resource and physical resources in order to undertake this research at ASU?

2. What is the connection between Ryan Taylor and ASU? Specifically has Ryan attended ASU or has any other connections with ASU previously to DASH? It is important in any investment for the investors to understand the background to the connections of that investment to see if there could possibly exists any bias toward favoring one organization or giving them more favorable terms than is necessary due to past association.

I feel that the ASU funding has been excessive in the past. Ryan Taylor once stated in an interview the investment in ASU for testing scaling of DASH was a "huge return on investment". However an important point to understand is that ASU gets as much out of the relationship with DASH as DASH gets from ASU - even without the funding. ASU benefit from undertaking the research and building the business connections with DASH, increase in reputation and the possibility of publishing a scientific papers - all of which increase the profile of ASU in dealing with real world technology. That is how healthy university sponshorship needs to be. The focus should always be on the research and not on funding.

I agree that the ZKP research is needed but what I have an issue with is the amount of money requested to do this research. To me DCG projects are over bloated. Including their office spaces - which I know for a fact empty the majority of the time. I know this because a DASH member has visited those offices numerous times and not once found anyone there.

I would need the answers to the above questions to be adequately addressed before I can consider voting favorably on this proposal.
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1 point,2 months ago
The human resources in this proposal include one graduate student for an academic year. This is a student who has the relevant skills/background to work on the identified research question. The costs also include faculty oversight of the graduate student and meetings/updates with Dash Core Group.
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1 point,2 months ago
This 50k will fund a year of ongoing research. Dash Core Group has an existing relationship with ASU. This proposal would just continue that relationship. A year of funding will ensure that researchers are able to complete their tasks.
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1 point,3 months ago
Good points about costs.

Agree that ZKP research is vital and very much looking forward to that, but don't really know how much is an appropriate cost.

Would be interested in the possibility of funding privacy research from other universities/groups too.

Looking forward to hearing responses from DCG.
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0 points,2 months ago
The human resources in this proposal include one graduate student for an academic year. This is a student who has the relevant skills/background to work on the identified research question. The costs also include faculty oversight of the graduate student and meetings/updates with Dash Core Group.
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3 points,3 months ago
You have my support.
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7 points,3 months ago
This is the most exciting proposal from Dash Core Group I've seen in a long time (and the recent ChainLocks, default InstantSend, and Dash Investment Foundation have been *incredibly* exciting).

Hoping for more privacy research to continue!
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