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Exclusive Interview with COSMOS Founder Jae Kwon: “Crypto Market Will Inevitably Evolve Toward the Cosmos Model”

Following the launch of Cosmos Hub, the first in a series of  proof-of-stake(PoS) blockchains in the Cosmos ecosystem, last month, 8BTC has recently secured an exclusive interview with the Cosmos Founder Jae Kwon who answered questions regarding consensus mechanism, cross-chain transactions, and security issues, among others. At present, the Cosmos team is doubling down their efforts to create the “Internet of Blockchains”, a network of blockchains that is able to communicate with each other in a decentralized way.



8BTC:  How does Cosmos secure the network consisting of zones and independent parallel blockchains?

Cosmos: A zone is just another word for a blockchain.

By default, two independent blockchains with independent validator sets have independent security, because Cosmos zones use “bonded proof-of-stake” based on classical Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) consensus, rather than proof-of-work(PoW) mining.

In PoW, it’s easy to divert mining power from one chain and use it to temporarily attack another chain with little accountability. You can’t do this as easily with Cosmos zones, because there’s more at stake in the case of a double-spend attack than in PoW; it’s far less likely that miners who participate in a double-spend attack will have their mining infrastructure destroyed. In PoS, all participants stake or “lock” tokens to participate and risk losing these staked resources if they act maliciously.

Another aspect of security is how Cosmos deals with blockchain failure.  The role of the Cosmos Hub is to maintain security, specifically token balances between zones. The security model is to trust the path that the asset took to reach you.  Every object has a unique path that determines the security parameters that have to be analyzed as it relates to its hub of origin.  So, even if one zone were to fail catastrophically, it wouldn’t affect the overall supply of tokens in the Cosmos network, nor would it affect accounts on other blockchains. The Cosmos network would function normally without the zone until the zone recovered and reconnected to the network.

8BTC: Hub is the data exchange center in the Cosmos Network. How does Cosmos increase the degree of Hubs decentralization ?

Cosmos: The way in which Cosmos becomes decentralized isn’t just the hub per se but the flat architecture of the network and protocols. The hub is not special in any way, but the fact that there will be many hubs is one decentralization component, and this in turn also pressures the hub to remain censorship resistant and well decentralized.

A large pool of validators enhances the decentralization component with more independent entities staking and contributing to the security and maintenance of the ecosystem.  The Tendermint consensus algorithm allows the Cosmos Hub to have fast block finality with a large number of validators (aka signers) while ensuring that a large number of staking tokens are “at stake” should a double-spend attack occur. While other blockchains try to squeeze in more validators by “sampling” the signing set per block, Tendermint doesn’t do this by design to ensure maximum security — all validators are expected to sign, ensuring that there’s more “at stake”.  Tendermint’s state-of-the-art implementation allows for more simultaneous validators without sacrificing block times.

8BTC: How does Cosmos authenticate inter-blockchain messages?

Cosmos: Inter-blockchain messages are authenticated in the same way that a secure light client would authenticate a Tendermint blockchain.  Firstly, you need to prove the block hash of the source blockchain by providing the block header and Tendermint commit signatures.  Then, you can use a Merkle proof to prove anything about the source blockchain, such as any datagram packets intended for the recipient, or validator set changes.

8BTC: In the Cosmos network, users can switch seamlessly between validators . Does this mean users have to pay gas fees for each switch?

Cosmos: Delegators can change their staking delegation between validators, and each validator sets their own commission in-protocol. The switching of delegation is processed with a delegation transaction, which can have associated transaction and gas fees.

8BTC: Why is the validators unbonding cycle set to 3 weeks?

Cosmos: The unbonding period protects against long-range attacks and allows people to be slashable for attacks that happened in the past. In other words, an attacker cannot attack the network, immediately unbond and then run away with the funds. The three week time period allows for the detection of past attacks by the community.

Two weeks is about how long it takes for a decentralized community to come to a decision about a matter via a vote.  We chose to set the cycle at three weeks to be slightly conservative.

8BTC: Does Cosmos have limitations in terms of scalability?

Cosmos: Individual Cosmos chains might have some limitations but the design of Cosmos doesn’t have restrictions in terms of scalability. Cosmos is designed to scale indefinitely.

8BTC: Will cross-chain tradings be less efficient than tradings in centralized exchanges? Will the demand for cross-chain transactions be lower than that for intra-chain transactions?

Cosmos: Token trading will be more efficient on Cosmos than in any centralized exchange because blockchains in Cosmos use Tendermint consensus which is much faster than PoW. It would only take seconds to finalize a deposit.  In addition, a proper decentralized exchange connected to the Cosmos Hub with order book support will be more secure than any centralized exchange, so it’s inevitable that the market will evolve toward the Cosmos model.

8BTC: The Cosmos Hub now has two native tokens, Atom and Photon.  Will other tokens be introduced in the future?

Cosmos: For now, ATOMs are the staking tokens for the Cosmos Hub. Other tokens can and will be introduced because it is permissionless to create them, however, a lot depends on governance.

Our system is designed such that any application can arbitrarily use any new or existing token for staking and fees. This gives the applications the optionality to design their incentive mechanisms in the exact specification that they desire.

8BTC: We found forking is not allowed in the Cosmos Network. Could you tell us the reason and what kind of technology is used to achieve that goal?

Cosmos: The Tendermint BFT consensus algorithm allows for instant (per block) finality with no forking. There is no forking as part of the consensus process, so if a transaction is included in a block it will always be there. Forking is mostly a by-product of proof-of-work, and proof-of-stake consensus algorithms that try to replicate this undesirable characteristic are flawed.

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