Web3 Innovators

Blockchain Innovators - Conor Svensson and Weijia Zhang

October 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 13
Web3 Innovators
Blockchain Innovators - Conor Svensson and Weijia Zhang
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Blockchain Innovators, Conor Svensson, founder and CEO of Web3 Labs, talks to Weijia Zhang, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Regional Head of China and Vice President of Engineering, Wanchain Foundation.

Conor and Weijia discuss the state of interop with blockchains right now, where it's heading and what a successful outcome would look like in the space.

Weijia has focussed on blockchain interoperability for a number of years, he leads the cross chain interoperability working group at the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. Weijia is also an accomplished academic and technologist, he has invented over 20 patents and published over 30 research papers. His vast experience and knowledge of blockchain interoperability really comes across in the podcast as he provides his valuable perspective on the space.

Watch this podcast here.

Hi, it's Conor Svensson here, Founder and CEO  of Web3 Labs. This is a conversation I had with   Weijia Zhang. Weijia is the Vice President of  Engineering at Wanchain. Weijia has been focused   on blockchain interoperability for a number of  years now and also leads the cross-chain interop   working group at the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.  In our conversation we discussed the state of   interop with blockchains right now and exactly  where we're going and what the successful outcome   is for the space. Weijia is a very accomplished  academic as well as technologist having   invented over 20 patents and published over 30  research papers. His perspective coming from that   field but also having gone so deep in this space  for a number of years now really comes through   here and I'm sure you'll have a lot of helpful  and valuable takeaways from our discussion.   Hey Weijia, it's absolutely great to have  you here! I wanted to really get into   a bit more of your history because you come  from a very academic place in terms of you've   got a PHD in computer science is that correct? In  physics with a focus on science education, yes. Yeah, that obviously gives you an incredible  foundation for getting into these sort of   technical and scientific based disciplines and is  certainly shown with your track record in terms   of you have over 30 published papers, around 20  patents as well. I'd love to learn a bit more   about your history before you get into Wanchain,  really the areas of physics or technology   that you went really deep in that have helped  shape who you are as a person with respect to   your engineering. Yeah, thank you Conor. Thank  you for a very brief concise intro, that's very   nice. Yeah I have a PHD in physics with focus  in science education. Basically I know that with   advances of physics it's more important to teach  kids about sciences and engineering so I took a   lot of lessons on cognitive science, educational  psychology, computer science so that I can use   cognitive sciences combined with computer science  to teach science and technology that we call STEM   to young kids and young people. Then after I  got my PHD, I went to Arizona State University   to work as a post-doctoral researcher on cognitive  research and that was funded by National Science   Foundation. We actually have a very good modeling  program for teaching sciences and then I noticed   that education program won't sustain without a  very good commercial foundation so I started to go   to the private sector. Actually, I worked for Dell  for many years over 10 years. Most of my papers   were published on enterprise software and also  some education as well and then in 2013 and 2014,   there was a time when Dell actually transferred  from a private public company to a private   company. Then engineers were given opportunities  to live there to start their own businesses.   I was a principal engineer so I took that  package and founded my own startup for education   which is to teach STEM for k-12 students doing  the labs and doing a lot of computing and IO   devices for sensing the physical parameters and  then model them and then the kids learn from it.   That's good science and research but it doesn't  sustain. It's just very difficult to make money   in America for science educational  companies. So then in 2017 October,   I met Jack and then he introduced me to Wanchain  and that's how I started a blockchain job. And   Wanchain certainly, for those people who aren't  aware, your focus really since day one has been   around interoperability with other blockchains.  Seeing the need, in the same way that you have   routing protocols with the internet and allowing  organizations to communicate with one another or   transfer data across multiple networks you sort  of envisage similar technology being an absolute   necessity of course for blockchain. Yeah, I think  Wanchain is a very, how do I say it, it's a very   engineering the technology focussed project.  If you look at the white paper for Wanchain, it   started in the white paper saying that Wanchain is  a cross-chain focussed project. Then if you look   at the architectural diagram, basically it has  the Wanchain layer that's connected to different   public blockchains and then on the bottom  layer the Wanchain is connecting to different   private blockchains and then we do exactly the  same thing that's described in the white paper.   We connect Wanchain with the Ethereum blockchain,  with bitcoin blockchain, EOS blockchain and   other blockchains and then for private blockchains  we also connect with the different private   blockchains, we call it consortium blockchains,  with public blockchain as well. So we would   connect these blockchains. Now we're advancing  to layer two blockchain as well so that you can   connect a layer two blockchain with another layer  two blockchain and that has advantage because with   layer two to layer two you do not need to worry  too much about the scalability and performance.   The finality is much shorter, the finality  time is much shorter when you compare with   the layer one. So Wanchain is a very engineering  focussed project. We focus on the engineering   side of connecting different blockchains with  either homogeneous or heterogeneous blockchains.   Yeah, and where do you think we are with  respect to the evolution of interoperability   technology because it's an area that's come up  again and again as interest in the technology   has increased. Of course, more and more people  have looked at it and there's multiple different   approaches there too and everyone of course talks  about the ability to atomic swaps as being sort of   the holy grail of it so to speak. But how far  along do you feel we are in this the evolution of   it? Yeah, I think in the term interoperability has  been an overloaded word right? A lot of people use   interoperability for different things. As you  know with the EEA, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance,   I'm a co-chair of the cross-chain and  interoperability working group and and   initially I was using the term interoperability  as well. I noticed that the word is too broad   so we decide to use cross-chain interoperability  so when you talk about interoperability you could   be talking about client interoperability  which is actually client compatibility   and then you have technology interoperability,  or source or the EVM interoperability or wallet   interoperability, those are different  things. What we are focusing here is the   cross-chain interoperability which means that  we're building bridges to connect different   blockchains for asset, messages, data and command  transfer. So that's what we mean by cross-chain   interoperability. In terms of progress, when  we first started this one, you probably still   remember it in the Seattle meeting, you were  there, we said about cross-chain interoperability   and not many people had an idea about the  use cases for that so we ended up writing   a use case document and then we started  to build specifications and guidelines for   cross-chain interoperability. Today there's so  many cross-chain bridges now it kind of feels   that it's grown too much too fast and not many  people actually think about the security and the   decentralization and other things, critical things  that need to be thought through. Some people just   build the bridges without too much thinking! So  we need to go back to the basics and define almost   like a standardized cross-chain interoperability  and that's what we are doing with the EEA's   cross-chain interoperability working group. We  are trying to standardize that and make it more   of a holistic rather than piecemeal solution for  building bridges to connect different blockchains.   Yeah and so certainly with the EEA approach of  course, people listening to this they'll hear well   if it's the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance doing  it, they're going to be thinking about how you   primarily focus on Ethereum compatible chains. But   of course, you're looking much wider there  with respect to the work you're doing.   With Ethereum, do you feel that there are certain  challenges with that type of blockchain network   with their account based model and so on, which  creates big challenges for you or is it something   that actually is a bit simpler than you think with  some of the other comparable blockchains that are   out there? When you were originally looking at  say bitcoin in the earlier days you said about   you know linking up with EOS of course and there's  more and more protocols emerging all of the time.   Yeah, I think with Ethereum we feel that is the  best one to bridge with because Ethereum has the   EVM, Ethereum Virtual Machine, it has smart  contract support and the Solidity is very, very   stable now. So connecting EVM compatible  blockchain with another EVM compatible   blockchain is very, very easy. Then  there are different ways to do it,   you can have a lock account method, you can lock  an asset on the source chain and then bend the   asset on the target chain or you can  use smart contract to control that or   you can use liquidity pool to control the  transfer of assets or you can do the remote   cross-chain function call for smart contract.  I think the challenge is right now is on the   cross-chain function call, which ConsenSys  is taking a lead on. They're doing the GPACT   which is a cross-chain function call and if that  one is achieved then the question becomes very,   very easy but there are challenges with that,  with the scalability and also security because   that's an atomic transaction cross-chain function  call. So that's what I see with the EVM compatible   cross-chain interoperability and then  for the other one, non-EVM compatible,   you either need to have a simulated  EVM or you can use the lock account   to facilitate the asset transfer. So I think  both are doable but with EVM compatible   blockchains it's much, much easier and  straightforward. So you mentioned there about   how with some of the non-EVM-based blockchains you  could potentially simulate the EVM. So would that   enable you to make use of the cross-chain function  call type technology? For instance with Polkadot,   they of course have these pallets that you  can run up an EVM there, almost all of the   big protocols are saying we can support the  EVM, Hedera said it with their Hashgraph,   Avalanche said it with theirs and so on and so  forth. So does that does that simplify the problem   somewhat if they have that EVM compatibility?  Yes, yes, definitely that simplified the problem   and then other chains like Cardano, they have  a smart contract engine as well but they're   not compatible with the EVM so there's still  things that need to be worked out over there. Absolutely, and when you talk about, this is just  for giving a bit more background to the people who   are newer to the world of interop, the  idea of a cross-chain function call,   of course that enables you to take code that's  running on a smart contract in one blockchain and   call, in effect, code that's on another separate  blockchain. When you talk though about the lock   and account asset transfer, would that be the  traditional approach you often see where people   creates like a wrapped version  of a token on a different network   to facilitate transfer? Yeah, yeah. With the lock  and mint method, what I call it is the lock, mint,   burn, unlock method which means that when you  want to transfer an asset from a source chain   to a target chain, you send the asset to a  smart contract or an account or lock account   and that asset becomes locked over there and  then there's a layer or transfer mechanism   that notifies the target chain about the  action and the result of that last source chain   and once it's confirmed then the smart contract on  the target chain actually mints the same value of   a token on the target chain and that's why I call  it a transfer token because it's a token that's   minted on the target chain has dependency  on token that is locked on the source chain   and this has implications for security right,  because both the security of source chain and   the target chain are important. If the source  chain gets hacked and then the asset on the   target chain gets hacked as well because there is  a dependency over the source chain as well. Yeah,   so that is a very straightforward methodology and  you can do either the atomic transaction or you   can do the trusted relayer. If the relayer is  trusted then when the source chain is locked,   the asset is locked in the source  chain, then the target chain can mint   the same value of token on the target chain but  that has a dependency on the relayer. The relayer   needs to be secure. When you talk about the  trusted relayer, of course people talk a lot   with respect to blockchains and decentralization  removing the traditional layers of trust there,   so what are the benefits and the disadvantages  with such an approach? Yeah, the advantage is   that it's faster when you compare with the atomic  transaction. Atomic transaction is very, very   tedious. It hasn't got a good user experience.  The usage screen is not very good and also it has   performance issues as well. With a trusted layer  and decentralized layer, if you can make that   layer with multi-party computing and also  decentralization with randomness then that   layer can be both secure and decentralized. Also  there's another factor here, you can also let the   the relayer, we call it Storeman at Wanchain, that  layer can have a mechanism for staking which means   that the layer needs to put some stake through  the smart contract to secure the bridge so that   the node for that bridging will not collude. If  they collude then their asset will be slashed so   that is another way to secure the bridge through  this staking and slashing mechanism. So sorry,   just to confirm those are with relay bridges  where you can actually have staking with them? Yeah, yeah I use the term relay, actually in  Wanchain it's called Storeman and you can also   call it a bridge node, it's the one that detects  the events in the source chain and then mints the   same amount of asset on the target chain and  that could be both secure and decentralized.   For example you can have like 25 nodes, 13 nodes  to carry out one transaction from source chain to   target chain. So do you see that as being a big  area of growth potentially for people who are out   there looking for yields say with their various  tokens and assets and actually staking for these   for these relayers because it's certainly not  something that comes up much in conversation at   the moment. More generally in the industry people  talk about yields from DeFi yield farming and also   participating on proof of stake networks but  do you see that as a big potential growth area?   I think so. It's the asset transfer from chain  A to chain B, that thing is going to grow that's   for sure because if you look at the history of  a blockchain just in the recent years we always   think that one blockchain will become the king  and then the other ones are going to die right?   But that's not the case. Okay it seems that  it'll be like the internet. There'll be different   servers popping up and in the future blockchain  will be just like a server right? Initially a new   blockchain is just like building a server, it's so  easy right? Then you need to look at the bridging   of private blockchain with private blockchain,  private blockchain with public blockchain, public   blockchain with public blockchain. So there's  no way you can have a single blockchain, that's   the king right? So the bridging will become  more and more important. It's just like today's   internet. The internet is becoming more important  than the server itself, than the mainframe that   IBM used to build so that's why I think it's going  to grow for sure. Now the question is which one   is going to dominate? Which bridging method is  going to dominate right? I think they're going to   coexist. You're going to have cross-chain function  core, you're going to have atomic transaction,   you're going to have relayer - the storeman  mechanism, the lock and burn and mint and then   burn and unlock, and you can also have some  centralized control. I think if you are talking   about consortium and consortium, the CBDC with  a CBDC, then two banks if they want to connect   together they just need two nodes over there.  Each bank provides one node because they're   trusted then that's easy, right? Then for public  blockchain you probably need to have more of them,   have more bridge nodes and you also need to  decentralize them for example you can use the POS,   Poof of Stake mechanism to select those bridge  nodes and then to prevent the collusion. Some interesting news, I think that came  out the last week on the bridging of CBDCs   was Visa talking about doing a proof of concept  with specifically that - the technology for   the central bank the digital currency bridging.  So I think as well, that sort of raises an   interesting discussion point. Whether you know,  with the internet you have common protocols   that underpin so many, that they span all these  different industries you don't have them really   too tightly coupled to specific  verticals in terms of the network layer   but then once you get into the application layer  you start to have these protocols that are very   tied to specific industries. So in the finance  industry for instance, you have like FIX,   FpML and these these sort of data interchange  formats but then they ultimately run on top of the   internet protocol behind the scenes which is  that common layer. So I guess with blockchain   you're in this interesting place because you  have the smart contracts that can be bespoke   for solving problems in specific industries  but then you also have a sort of agnostic   protocol underpinning it all. It's like,  where does that common layer end up emerging?   Yeah, yeah. I think that's a great point. I think  we are both familiar with the EEA architecture.   We know there's a blockchain layer, there's a  network over layer and I think for cross-chain,   the key point is to have something like TCP/IP  and I think if we talk about challenges,   that is a challenge. How can you let different  institutes and different public blockchains   to adopt a TCP/IP like cross-chain  protocol without government involvement?   And that's challenging! So I definitely see that  coming and then there's other things as well   when you talk about Visa and another, actually I  know that company - a fintech company right, and   sometimes some banks are running Corda, it's  not just Ethereum, so you need to deal with the   heterogeneous cross-chain as well. And those  things are going to evolve. Today we're just   dealing, a lot of time we deal with EVM compatible  but we need to go broader to cover the case where   there are a Corda blockchain, the different  kind of blockchains that we need to bridge to. Yeah. Absolutely. And so bringing it back to  one other topic here, atomic transactions,   which you spoke about and how problematic  they are from a user experience perspective.   Of course, given that you need a degree of,  well you need transaction finality on the two   underlying blockchains in order to facilitate this  transfer of assets. Do you think that once the   transaction speeds get to a place where they are  just faster, I mean it's a big criticism of course   for a lot of DeFi users for instance, that with  Ethereum it takes a long time for transactions to   go through, so then Binance Smart Chain emerged,  lots of people jumped over there because they had   a much smaller network. They were able to achieve  that really rapid transaction time because it was   in effect a centralized network. Do you think  that it is as simple as that? Once the transaction   speeds go up, the actual sort of more atomic  transactions will become more commonplace or is it   more nuanced than that? Yeah, I think it's both  the technology itself and the use case as well,   right. We used to say that atomic transaction is  a must-have, this is something that we must have   for cross-chain. Later on we find that no, it's  not a must-have because if the bridge is secure   there's no need for atomic transaction.  For example, in two trusted blockchain,   in private blockchain, there's no need for that  because the bridge is guaranteed to succeed.   Then in terms of performance, I think  layer one we know it won't improve too much   even with ETH2. You have to wait until sharding  comes in then sharding itself is a cross-chain   also. Of course different, it's a cross  shard. So you have that concept already   and I think at this time we are talking about  for cross-chain, it's in terms of performance,   if you cross chain a layer 2 with layer 2, yes  you can do atomic transaction, probably okay. Then   in the future, when you have sharding, yes you  can do atomic transaction as well but I think even   when there's no performance issue, when automatic  transaction is all good to go, there is a need   for non-atomic transaction. If you can trust the  relayer, the layer that facilitates the transfer   of asset because that makes it much easier. You  don't need to wait for the other side, for the   handshake, for the return. For example, for the  cross-chain function call you need to wait for the   target chain to respond back and that callback may  take some time. So I think in terms of use cases,   atomic transaction and non-atomic transaction  are going to coexist for a while. Yeah, yeah,   absolutely. And of course like you say, it's a  very different proposition when you're looking at   two enterprise consortium talking to one another  versus Ethereum talking to bitcoin or Cardano or   Polkadot or wherever else. Yeah, yeah,  yeah. So, going back to Wanchain and   the bigger strategy here, you support  a number of the major protocols already   and from your perspective as an organization  what's the key area of focus now? Is it getting   more compatibility with more  chains or is the focus still quite very much about the specific  technologies and just refining   what you have there - getting it better or  getting it faster, getting more people using it?   Yeah, I think the cross-chain is expanding  right? This technology is expanding and   Wanchain is trying to expand as well and make  it more flexible. So as I mentioned earlier   in the white paper, Wanchain intends to bridge  different public blockchains and then bridge   private blockchains. Today, we have layer two  comes in as well, so Wanchain needs to bridge with   layer two and then in the future if ConsenSys is  able to do the cross-chain function call, Wanchain   want to endorse that as well. Then there are other  cases that Wanchain thinks are very, very useful,   especially when you build bridges to heterogeneous  blockchains and Wanchain is also developing some   of the methodologies for that as well. So Wanchain  is becoming more, even more bridge focused   and then once you sponsor some of the  projects, they actually can build ecosystem   for cross-chain applications. So two  directions, one is to build more bridges,   advanced bridging technology. Another one is  to kind of support cross-chain applications. Yeah, would it be fair to think of it as  almost creating the Cisco for the web 3 world?   Yeah, yeah, I think that's probably Jack's goal  but it's so challenging! I think you just have to   grow and just see and grow the technology. Yeah  and it's like when you look at the history of   the internet and how the protocols  and many of these applications that   became standards, it was almost just luck in the  end right? It wasn't that you had this huge push   from everyone saying 'yeah let's get behind the  TCP/IP'. Some people did, it got traction, it got   momentum and it snowballed and we ended up where  we are now. Yeah, you're exactly right and to do   this if you look at the the history of TCP/IP, one  of the first things you need to do is to define   the unified the resources, right? Then today  we cannot even do that with blockchain. Today,   how do you identify blockchain? How do you know  this blockchain is a real one and not a fake one?   So we have this blockchain ID and blockchain  ID is just a number. How do you prevent the   condition of blockchain ID? We have EIP155,  but that's just a number - it's not good enough   and there's nothing. I can just start a blockchain  in one hour and I call this EIP equal to one and   then when people connect to my blockchain there's  a blockchain ID equal to one, they thought it's   the Ethereum blockchain but it's not. So we have  a lot of things to do with that, with kind of   TCP/IP definition so we actually submit the  EIP3220 to define a cross-chain identity.   So we want to start from basics. The first  thing that needs to be done is to have a common   definition of blockchain identity and therefore  blockchain identity should be unique and should be   identifiable. So it should be linked to the block  so that you can verify whether that blockchain has   the correct blockchain ID or not automatically. So  those are the things that need to be done in our   blockchain community and we are trying to do that  as well. Yeah, and it's a very key point there,   that notion of how do you have the equivalent  of the URI to identify blockchain. I presume   as well there's a lot of crossover there with the  work that's happening in the identity space like   with the Decentralized Identity Foundation  and the decentralized identifiers because   in effect where you have a verified credential  that lives somewhere on a blockchain or data store   somewhere you need to address it in a way that can  point to it. So, is there much cross-pollination   between those ideas at this point in time or are  they kind of evolving separately? Because, as you   rightly say, being able to address something on an  arbitrary blockchain be it the network identifier   or a smart contract on it or a cryptocurrency  account, these are key things that need to be   there. Yeah, yeah, I think you're exactly right.  DID has been explored by different blockchains.   They all have DID and then you need to have a  unique ID for the blockchain itself. So they are   together, they are kind of on different areas  right now but at some point they are going to   converge and come together. The DID has to sit on  a blockchain and that blockchain has to be unique.   The identity of that project has to be unique so  it should be DID plus blockchain ID at some point. Yeah, hopefully we can start seeing something  sooner there because it makes me think as well of   the work that's happening on Ethereum with the  Ethereum Name Service and trying to take something   like DNS which underpins much of the internet  and providing a way to arbitrarily address these   accounts. But if you could take ENS and  add this common blockchain identification   layer you've got your equivalent to a DNS entry  that can point to any computer on the internet.   Exactly right and that's what with EIP3220, we  define blockchain identity and then on top of   that we're trying to submit another one which  is smart contract based. Then we need to link   that with EVM, the Ethereum Name Service as well  so that we can look up more metadata through the   name service. So we just need to define identity  for blockchain identity specification and then   from that point on you can use the identity to  define different parameters for that blockchain   by using ENS. And is it something that you're  also engaging with other blockchain communities   for the equivalent? Because the EIP, well the  Ethereum community are very well engaged with the   Ethereum improvement process. Are you doing  similar things with other ones or are you just   focusing on Ethereum for the time being until you  can get this the traction that it deserves before   starting to try to get it over the line with other  communities as well? Yeah, I think the work is   proposed with EEA, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance,  and they were submitted as EIP3220 to the Ethereum   community and I think that definition is  blockchain agnostic, any blockchain can implement   that. So at this time we only approach this  Ethereum type of blockchain. We did not approach   how to add blockchains yet but that is compatible  is any project can implement that specification. Yes, certainly be a great initiative to  get the whole community behind because   these are very crucial building blocks that you're  putting in place here. Yeah, yeah, it really is   very critical and it needs to be built early  on. So apart from interoperability, which is a   big and very relevant topic for Wanchain, are  there any other areas that you're very interested   in of the applications of the technology  outside of the interoperability space? Yeah,   I think we published a paper on use cases for  cross-chain interoperability so Wanchain itself is   mainly focused on the cross-chain application and  interoperability but there may be other projects   that want to build the ecosystem and and Wanchain  is interested in supporting those as well. Cool! And if you were to predict when  you think we'll see more widespread   interop and it becomes a normal thing that you can  take for granted that 'oh i've got this this NFT   on this wallet, I'm just going to send it to  you' and you're using a different blockchain,   how many years away do you feel we are until  that sort of moment where you can do that   without having to go through intermediaries?  Yeah, I think, well with blockchain,   one of the challenges is it's very dynamic. It's  very difficult to predict anything! I noticed that Vitalik published a post, he called it  'Cross-rollup NFT wrapper and migration ideas',   I responded to his post as well. I think, we  saw through this many times way before Vitalik,   the NFT has a value that's very arbitrary. If  you look at the NFT and the source chain and   they say this NFT is a million dollars, then  you mint it on the other side and then there's   a liability there of one million dollars for  the cross-chain, right? And that's a challenge   because you do not know if their value is real or  not so that's one thing. The second thing is that   the NFT is the data transfer and today what we are  doing for cross-chain is mainly asset transfer.   So with NFTs we need to go beyond asset transfer,  we need to go for data transfer and then of   course, there's also cross-chain function call so  if I'm giving a time, I think one or two years is   a must to do the NFT. But, if you do a centralized  transfer, of course, it's easier but you want to   really have decentralized and secure NFT transfer.  It's going to take one or two more years.   Talking about the data transfer because of course,  with NFTs that's a very significant thing because   most NFTs do actually represent an image  or some sort of file that exists somewhere.   Where are we right now with respect to the ability  to transfer these things or interoperability so to   speak, to transfer between these different stores?  Of course, IPFS has established itself as the de   facto place for storing data on a decentralized  distributed file system but no doubt, they're not   going to be the only one and it would be good to  get your take on that world. Yeah, so in terms of   data transfer, there are two things here. One is  to transfer the raw data, the whole data, from a   blockchain to another one. Another one is just to  transfer a handle of the data, for example the url   link and that normally happens with NFTs. But the  challenge is that if you transfer the data handle   to another blockchain then the data handler which  is off chain, may not recognize that. For example,   CryptoKitties may recognize a gene on the  Ethereum blockchain but if you transfer the NFT   to another blockchain the engine may not recognize  that. So that is a challenge, I think there are   different approaches for that and I noticed  that Chainlink is also going for cross-chain,   they're also proposing a cross-chain  interoperability protocol based on their   oracle node so that's another mechanism. I think  that that area is going to still going to evolve.   So the transfer of a handle, data handle for  the raw data and through a relayer or through   something, that oracle mechanism and so that  is something that's still going to to evolve.   Absolutely. It certainly feels like this year  the blockchain space has heated up a lot but also   interop's become a much bigger topic as well.  As you say, being able to transfer NFTs that   have arbitrary values on certain networks,  it does change things a bit because you're   not just transferring some random data  from one place to another. Yeah, yeah. So,   if you weren't working with Wanchain or you've  solved the interoperability stuff, where do you   think your focus would take you? Would there  be areas associated with edtech for instance,   that you mentioned earlier, that you think there  could be some good opportunities? Yes, when I   joined Wanchain I was telling Jack that I want to  reserve my right to build an education blockchain,   so yeah, I am very still very interested  in education. Actually, I'm teaching smart   contract development as well so I am very  on to education still, yeah. I hope we can,   if we solve the interoperability, the following  challenges and then I can spend my time   working on blockchain education.  That's an area I'm interested in.   Yeah, absolutely and hopefully years down the  line you can imagine they'll be 'yeah, I helped   build out this key protocol that underpins much  of today's blockchains' and when you transfer   these assets, once upon a time this didn't exist  and we really made it possible! It'd be a fun   thing to have there! Yeah it would be great. I  have talked to you many times about cross-chain   interoperability. You visited us in the past as  well, so I think this needs different people,   collaboration. It's great to work with  EEA, it's a very good platform and a lot   of good colleagues to work together  on the cross-chain interoperability.   It's been going for a long time as well hasn't it  now? It's about two/ three years old this working   group? Yeah, it used to be a task force and then  it became a working group. Yeah and for those   people listening definitely, if you want to get  more involved in the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance,   they're always looking to get more people  contributing to these initiatives. Weijia,   one of the things that I'd love to hear  as well is, are there any books that   have really influenced your thinking around  this space or they've really captivated you?   Yes, yes, I do read books and this is a  'Blockchain: A Practical Guide to Developing   Business, Law, and Technology Solutions' and this  is by Joseph Bambara and Paul Allen. I bought this   book, I thought this was Paul Allen of Microsoft!  I actually bought this from an MIT bookstore   but it turned out it's another Paul  Allen but this is a great book!   It's a great book for Ethereum. If you like  Ethereum this is a book you should read   and I actually read a lot of these chapters on  the airplane so a good book! Then I also have this  

'Mastering Bitcoin:

Programming the Open  Blockchain' by Andreas Antonopoulos and   then everybody knows about this and this  is a good book as well! Yeah. And I also   do a lot of white papers of different projects. I  actually spend a lot of time reading white papers   and also the Ethereum Foundation, the EEA website,  a lot of those medium papers as well and I also   read the EIP specification, a lot of the low-level  specification codes and I also notices that Conor,   you are publishing a book and I look forward to  reading your book as well! Oh, cool, thank you!   Yeah it should be out by December this year, 'The  Blockchain Innovators Handbook' so I'm looking   forward to that and it will be fun to have it out  there! How do you manage to keep up though with   what to read in terms of white papers and so on  because there's so many coming out all the time?   Yeah and actually I'm teaching and  sometimes we ask students to read as well   so I normally select good ones and one  of the challenges with blockchain is   it's a fast-paced technology and there's so  much information that you need to absorb, right?   I have to pick good authors, good projects  and they read the good ones, all the kind of   trusted ones and trusted authors and I really  do not read just random publications. Yeah,   no that's it and certainly it's easier for us  technologists to be able to at least know whether   some people seem like they're legitimately authors  fairly quickly but there's a lot of noise there.   So, Weijia, if people want to reach out to  you or follow you or just keep up with what   Wanchain's up to, what are the best mechanisms  for them to do that? Is it Twitter, LinkedIn,   whatever else? Wanchain's website is wanchain.org  and then we also have Telegram and also Wanchain   has a Twitter account as well. I normally do  not send too many posts with Twitter. Also,   you can reach me through email and look  at Wanchain's website and and contact us.   Just go to wanchain.org. You can get  a lot of information out of there   I'm sure. The preferred way for people to  reach you as well, would be by participating   in the cross-chain interop working group for  the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance? Yes, yes,   I really look forward to people, experts joining  the working group to work together to develop   this protocol for cross-chain interoperability.  Yeah, it's exciting times definitely! So Weijia,   thank you so much for your time, it's been really  awesome catching up and I just love hearing how   this space is evolving and heating up more and  more every year! Yeah well thank you Conor, it's   always great to talk to you. I really appreciate  this opportunity. Thank you, speak soon.