Web3 Innovators

Blockchain Innovators - Conor Svensson and Weiwu Zhang

November 03, 2021 Conor Svensson Season 1 Episode 16
Web3 Innovators
Blockchain Innovators - Conor Svensson and Weiwu Zhang
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Blockchain Innovators, Conor Svensson, founder and CEO of Web3 Labs, talks to Weiwu Zhang, CTO at AlphaWallet.

In the conversation Conor and Weiwu go into a lot of depth about tokens,  the future of web3, and why Weiwu believes they are the core fabric of the Web 3.0. They also discuss the Alchemy NFT platform which the AlphaWallet team launched earlier this year, securing backing from Mark Cuban among others.

Weiwu and the Alphawallet team have been very focussed on tokens for the past 4 years, going deep in their exploration of what’s possible, such as autographing NFTs and token attestations, and it was absolutely fascinating to hear his perspective on how they will change our everyday interactions online.

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Hi, it's Conor Svensson here, founder and CEO of  Web3 Labs. This is a conversation I had with Weiwu   Zhang, CTO at AlphaWallet, Weiwu is a true token  innovator. In our conversation we go into a lot   of depth about why tokens are the future of web  3 and why he believes they are its core fabric.   We also discussed the Alchemy NFT platform which  the AlphaWallet team launched earlier this year   securing backing from Mark Cuban among others.  Weiwu and the AlphaWallet team have been very   focused on tokens for four years now going deep  into their exploration of what's possible with   them looking at things such as autographing NFTs  and token attestations and it was absolutely   fascinating to get his perspective on how they  will change our everyday interactions online.   Okay, well it's great to have you here. Good to  be here too. So you're the CTO at AlphaWallet,   tell me a bit more about how you got started  with AlphaWallet. What was it that made you   decide originally to focus on the wallet space  as well as an opportunity for the business?   Yeah, that's a good question. So we we didn't  start AlphaWallet with the vision that a wallet   is going to be the most important thing  in the industry and we're going to be   millionaires because we make a good wallet! The  starting point was actually before I did this   wallet thing, I worked with my  colleagues in Commonwealth Bank and   I was in a leadership role, technical leadership  role and did a lot of blockchain experiments.   What I saw here is that the blockchain evolution  will take us to the spot where we will make a lot   of smart tokens. But smart tokens are referred to  tokens that have rich functionality, utility and   provide service and allow you to interact with the  website. Then the smart contract part of that is   relatively easy but they're lacking infrastructure  for that to properly work, for the users to take   smart token and use it on a website and that's  going to be where wallet innovation is badly   needed. So we started AlphaWallet with a vision  of innovating in this very specific section.   However, technology inside was actually way more  complicated than we initially thought. I thought   that we're going to have a fully working  TokenScript setup that holds smart tokens,   talks to the web, give you functionalities on your  mobile phone and set tokens such as car tokens or   rental tokens these things. We thought that we  would get ready in one year, but this constantly   needs to solve problems and that makes a wallet  actually useful for Ethereum. So I consider the   current stage and part of the journey where  we are eventually going to be a smart token   leader in wallet but, right now we are the  open source leader in the space. We are the   most popular open source Ethereum mobile wallet.  So when you talk about the smart token, it was   really the interest in tokens that brought you to  the wallet rather than thinking we're going to do   a wallet and then tokens came up? Yes, typically  in this space innovation happens like what I   call 'Now what? Explore, now what?' So let's go  explore something, make it happen and then think   now what happens. I think by the opportunities I  had and also by the way I understand blockchain,   we can have a vision of how blockchain is actually  useful. So people say that the decentralized web   is better than the non ordinary web but how? So  the way we work is we actually have a vision how   it's going to be different, how it's useful, and  we're working towards that vision. Meanwhile, we   try to be pragmatic and solve real world problems  and real world Ethereum user problems in the same   way. What I often say is we build the tunnels from  two sides. Imagine if you have a huge mountain and   you want to dig a tunnel, on one side you just  explore and see what you can do and on the other   side you have a vision of where you are going to  get after this, and we dig from both sides. Okay,   so going back to the start of AlphaWallet, how  old's the company now, it's like four years   something like that? It's been around for a while,  it's not like you've just emerged and you've been   focusing on the technology for quite some time.  Yeah. So at that point, when you started on it,   I don't know if NFTs were a thing at that  point, they've obviously gone massive   in this last year. But, going back to 2017 when  CryptoKitties first emerged, was that on your   radar in those early points or was it later on  that it emerged once you were already working   on AlphaWallet? We hold an evolutionary view on  the tokens. We don't know how it will exactly   evolve but we have a rough idea where it is going  to. So when we started AlphaWallet we wanted to   have something called smart token. Smart token  refers to tokens that have utilities and services.   So one example would be a car token which allows  you to open the car engine. It also provides   service, for example, how to collateralize it or  how to authorize someone else to manage the car to   generate new keys for the car. This would be  useful for example if you want to leave your   car to generate revenue for you without having to  go through the typical market friction of signing   up new contracts and transferring the car key and  stuff - the blockchain transaction can do that. So   we think that's where blockchain is heading  because what blockchain enables for a smart   contract and the decentralized infrastructure,  it enables innovation and enables innovation that   Google and Apple will find it hard to catch  up on given that all the free thinking that   can happen in the space, all the contracts you  can write or functions you can add to tokens.   Tokens will be smart. They will grow. That's a  general view but we don't know how it will grow   there. In the beginning it was ERC 20 tokens and  then you have a non-fungible tokens. Now we have   non-fungible tokens with features. Alchemy is a  good example where we add a lot of features to   non-fungible tokens but eventually it will  come, and that's what I firmly believe and   the AlphaWallet team believes in the vision  that it will come to the point where we have   smart tokens. We have vendor supported, function  reach, service reach that enable new markets,   new competition, new ideas. We will have those. So  although the popularity of an NFT wasn't something   we see in the very beginning, we're ready to  see the token evolve at any time, so it was   not a complete surprise. Yeah, and thinking more  about smart tokens and them being a key enabler of   the technologies, certainly one of the people  who's come up in the space and been quite   quite vocal about their opinions here is Chris  Dixon and he had this recent tweet storm where   he was talking about how he sees tokens as being  the new equivalent to a web page insofar as   in the early days of the internet you had people  created web pages and they just consumed them,   they just read them. Then as the technology  really picked up companies started to realize   how they can provide a more interactive  experience so that you have a back and forth.   People provide data and they get something back  in return. With tokens, his view is that we're   in those very early days where we're seeing  some utility for utility tokens, NFTs but   his views is that there's this much wider picture  of where they're going to go and they're like   this all new building block for the web3 so to  speak. I guess that lines up with your views here   with respect to the ambitions with TokenScript  and smart tokens? Exactly and I totally agree   with the view that the token is now the new  web. I'd like to dive deeper into the topic.   They are very similar and the future will be full  of tokens. Everything we say blockchain can do,   they are going to be done by the tokens. Therefore  we have a huge range of different tokens. I'd like   to go a little bit deeper and explain what's the  difference between a web page and token. Yeah,   definitely. So there was a transition from web1 to  web2, and that transition is mostly the transition   from the info system to an application system. The  difference between those is, an info system is how   you get information, an application system is how  you do something. So an example would be in the   early days when in the web one era you would go  to a web page, you would read interesting stuff   and you would click through. Sometimes you  go to a music band and you click through and   you become interested in one person, a singer  maybe, and you became interested in the clubs   and then you started browsing. All the time I  wasted, well not wasting, it was a pleasant time,   it was discovering information and having fun just  interacting with information. Today's internet is   different. Today when I use the internet, half  of my time I'm doing something - I'm signing up   for the conference, I'm making appointments with  you for example for this podcast, I'm preparing a   slideshow and discussing with team members about  topics and showing up in the conference, adding   each other in LinkedIn - most of time I'm acting.  So the internet is no longer an information   system, it's an application system and that is  why the internet today is centralized. Because an   application system would require points of trust,  would require interconnecting integration points   and the previous giants like Google and Facebook  naturally fits in that role. So today's token   is like the web, not in the sense that it's a  source of information providing interactiveness,   it's a source of integration where  functionalities and utilities and services anchor   so that web can be mobilized again, just like the  previous information explosion in the early 2000s.   We will see a functionality explosion and then we  will need to have the interconnecting components   which is the token. That's why token is like the  web and also that's why the token is not exactly   the web. And when you think about it then, in  terms of a token there's some very fundamental   differences there because you hold it say in  AlphaWallet and that token, it could be a proof   of attendance token, it could be a utility token,  NFT, whatever else and they of course have their   own notion of value associated with them,  it can be just someone's own personal stuff   just like proof of attendance that's something  they hold dear to them that they went to this   event and it was quite a pivotal moment for them.  Like the t-shirts for legendary gigs that have   happened over the years, people proudly wear them  all these years later. Then on the other side,   we're seeing with NFTs where they can shoot up in  value and actually become investments in their own   rights and so there no doubt will be other areas  that grow out of this. What are the ones that you   are quite excited or optimistic about at the  moment in terms of where we're going to see   it gather a lot more traction than what we see  right now? The token can give us so many things   but we don't know when people will use something  first or when people will use something else. This   is not entirely a technical area, we don't know  how humans acquired the habit for example, using   facebook, first. Before they used like a Google  photo so and it's hard to answer that question   from a user's perspective but I will explain what  technology allows us to do. So you just mentioned   the proof of attendance, so imagine that you  meet someone in the event and that someone   gives you a token that says I saw you in  the event, we are friends. Some kind of   token token. Suppose you have many of them, then  it potentially gives you proof of relationship   that you can use to contact someone. For example,  if Bill Gates says that he will only contact   people who know someone who knows me, they can  give them a proof that someone who knows you,   right? So you're able to build LinkedIn in a  decentralized way, all the way up with this   kind of stuff. The other example is once you  have a car token. Let's say it gives you car   ownership and gives you control of your car,  then you can use that to generate a proof and   link it with the insurance token. So the next  time if you call roadside assistance offered   by the insurance company they will look up the  insurance and immediately verify if it's your car.   Then you have other things built on top of it  like a club membership which relates to your car   as well as your insurance and later if you want  to leave a car to a company which makes money for   you by renting it out, then they will want to see  all of these tokens. So these tokens will combine,   compose and we will reach functionalities and  we will see innovations we haven't seen before.   So hearing about it from that perspective, it  certainly seems that there's parallels with what   people have spoken about previously in terms  of where the really big opportunities are for   smart contracts. But with the narrative that  you're talking about, it takes it one step further   that says rather than having all these different  smart contracts that get built up to provide these   different services, it simplifies things a lot  of things a lot if you just use tokens instead   because then you have something that's common  across all these different blockchain platforms,   there are of course differences between the  platforms and interoperability issues with it.   But, it's like a simple abstraction that people  can get - here's a token to show I've got this   proof, rather than it be here's some code or  service that lives on a smart contract that this   company owns and here's some code that lives on  another smart contract that some other one does,   it's like the token is the common abstraction that  people use as authenticity really to show proof of   something. Yes and there will be a lot of smart  contracts working behind the token to make it   really trustworthy but the token is what you use  to interact with the web and access utility and   interact with websites that use token services.  They do it through the token. This also provides   potential where tokens from different blocks  should work together but not on the previous like   all the blockchain linked together layer but  like an upper layer token layer. Right, and so   if we think about it in terms of like traditional  web analogies HTTP was the common protocol for   people to talk to websites and there's the  verbs around it like GET, POST, PUT, DELETE   that became established and they're  simple building blocks that although   the end users typically only see it in terms  of a web browser or an app on their phone,   the underlying technologies like HTTP was this  key enabler really for a lot of the interactions   there. One could argue that potentially in web3,  the token becomes that equivalent because that's   the thing that everyone interacts via and then  behind the scenes you've got all of these services   that actually manage the tokens, provide all these  additional integration points and so on. Yeah, so   I'm glad you mentioned this. That analogy works.  So you have a web resource and you have PUT and   GET and DELETE and POST, if we take that to token  then the most typical actions you can perform on   token are proof of ownership that generate proof  which involve a cryptographic challenge and answer   to that challenge and you have transfer of  ownership and you have authorization which   gives you a resource identifier so you authorize  the aspect of tokens to someone. In the car case,   you authorize someone to drive your car. That  authorization is on the user level is called a   key, a car key, but in crypto we just call it  authorization which generates an attestation   to you that a smart contract can validate. You  can use that attestation together with the key   associated with that as the borrower of the  car. You can use that to start the engine,   that's authorization - that's the most frequent  operations you do to token objects. But there   are more like tokens can develop their own. And so  presumably some of this ties in with your notion   of smart tokens and TokenScript? Yes. So it's an  open source framework that you guys created and   presumably it provides like a common abstraction  for a lot of these sorts of operations? Yes,   token script was technology that was in Alpha  Wallet ever since the really early version in   the 2018. At that time we have a XML container  which declares what token utilities are there,   together with embedded HTML and javascript code  in CSS which directs. So if you imagine an XML   file would say there is a PUT action, GET action,  there are things you can do. This will transfer or   authorize. Then under every action there's a link  to the corresponding HTML and javascript component   to run that one on user interface. So what we  do is architecturally we divide these actions   into token utilities and token services. So token  utilities in case of a car are - let's open a car,   open the door, unlock the door. Token  services it's like acquire a link token,   for example link a car with their insurance token,  that would be token service. So the difference is   token utility is something users can do to  the token. If you have a voting, a DAO token,   you can vote. Token services that you can use  some token to do on a third party website and that   third party is important because we are seeing  more and more the future web being integrated and   function rich. The token is the mechanism which  allows this third party to run their business   making the web system more open and more  competitive. So it's really important that   token services be available. When we started to  do this, we demonstrated this technology with   for example car vendors and we also made the  first FIFA VIP token in 2018 where you can   scan and redeem the token at the one of the venues  as a FIFA ticket redeem spot and we actually   tokenized about 150 tickets. So we did these  experiments that were very impressive experiments.   It was at actually a crypto down time so people  had less interest in crypto in 2019 as well.   In 2020 we see huge rise of DeFi, DeFi is a very  important part of the blockchain. It's not a smart   token but DeFi is very important. The token script  technology doesn't have much interaction with   DeFi, you can see some of the DeFi tokens such as  if you have a zero knowledge proof of wealth for   example, like Tornado, then you can potentially  write a token script which displays the balance   which you cannot do on the website. If you do  that, the website will already know the secret.   So that's where token script can play but it's not  the main part of TokenScript. The main part is to   enable interaction with services and with the  accomplished token utilities. So in that year,   because the users were growing and we had  to satisfy demand, we had to fix it here   and there to make it work with the new DeFi  protocol. So we just spent the year maintaining   the product, we didn't develop the TokenScript  technology until later in that year. Early this   year, we started to come back to token script  because we were seeing demand for example,   last Christmas we were very busy to accomplish  the necessary attestation module, as you know,   attestation related to authorization so that  Devcon can issue their tickets that are validated   on the blockchain but not issued directly  on the blockchain because they don't have a   transfer use case so early and they don't want to  waste a lot of gas. It's reasonable that you hold   authorization as a token. So when we developed  this module, we were getting the token services.   We mentioned that token actions are either  utilities or services and we did the utility   as we did in experiments with car token  and with FIFA tickets. The service part,   we didn't do that and this year we're picking that  up as we see the demand is picking up as well. So   with a bit of work I think back end of this year  and maybe early next year we will have the first   version that actually can do token services, which  is to give you a token that allows you to use that   to interact with the web. So that's where we are.  Okay, and I have to say, hearing more about how   the service works there's one thing that jumps  up that's very widely used in web 2 is the notion   of cookies and a file that lives on someone's  computer to identify them to a website. There's   clearly crossover there as well. Do you see in the  future that you could end up in this space where   there's people that have an abundance of tokens?  With cookies, people's browsing habits they have   silly numbers of cookies on their computer because  every time they go to a website they receive   multiple. Could we end up in this space where  it's a similar problem with tokens - people   are inundated with them? Yes, you are spot  on. The technology to address this is called   token negotiation so we already like thought  about it! So token negotiation is a technology   where a website shows that they are interested  in certain type of tokens and the user is able   to select which token to be used on the website.  So it cannot be like a cookie where the website   simply detects our tokens. Otherwise the website  would display a page and in the meanwhile learns   that you have one million dollar worth of ether  and you have two Porsche Cayennes! So you don't   want this to happen. When the website wants to  use a token it either does it automatically which   is it declares in the header and then you will  see, similar to the cookie notice, you will see   available tokens listed on your mobile phone that  you can click to make them usable to your website.   Of course you can by default disable that. Or  if you click certain functions on the web page   and that function would say 'hey use this function  we are interested in the following tokens'. For   example, if you are not booking a ticket on an  airline website, then presenting the passport   token doesn't make sense. But, if you are in  step two, you've already filled out the form   which says where you want to go to, where you  want to land, then in the next step the wallet   will pop up and say you need an identity token  and ask which one you want to use - you have an   ID card, you have a passport etc. Some of them  allow you to do a zero knowledge proof to only   prove that you have the document without giving  it to them. So this process where the website   at that stage would need some token and the  wallet will find one that matches the criteria,   similar to having a lot of cookies from a lot of  tokens - you find someone that matches criteria.   It's called token negotiation. We have the  first version of that library available although   that version only works with the attestation  tokens, it doesn't work with blockchain tokens   because we did it for Devcon and that that was  prioritized. But, we will eventually be able to   negotiate all kinds of tokens including ether  or Tornado or in the future car tokens. Yeah,   you touch briefly on identity there and that's  clearly another key application. What we're seeing   within the finance sector is so much talk right  now about central bank digital currencies, where   you've got these central banks looking at ways of  controlling a blockchain based money supply. So   there's a lot of inefficiencies in the system  right now. If we think about identity, do you   feel that there's a similar direction where we  can be headed? Because, no doubt with this vision   of the future you're talking about, someone's  passport or identity card becomes a token and then   that still would no doubt be issued by a central  authority, say the issuer of the passport or the   identity card. Do you think that we'll see in  the coming years similar levels of interest in   that sort of application of the technology as we  have with these central bank digital currencies? I   think central bank digital currencies are a useful  one to pin on just because it's a very serious   kind of government institution that's typically  interested in these and likewise identities has   those strong ties with the governments as well.  It strikes me that there seems like there could be   quite a natural fit there to do it as long as they  continue to remain in control of issuing these,   in their case these verified credentials,  as tokens that represent passports and then   presumably they can revoke them as well if someone  has their crypto wallet stolen or something else.   Is that a future that you think about or you  can see panning out in the near future? Okay,   so you brought up two interesting points. One  being that how will a central bank play in this   game and the other will be how central authority  issued identities will be used. So the first   one, a central bank's motivation of issuing  central bank money is not to make our life easier.   It's to make their job easier and their job being  control and the supply of credit. So they will   not be able to give you any meaningful product  because their goal is too farfetched from your   everyday life and the uptaking will be a problem  unless they work with banks. So the most likely   scenario is that every bank will issue their  own banking app which has central bank money   enabled in it so you will still have the banking  relationship and some people will actually hold   central bank money directly in their wallet. But,  the quality of service will be low and people will   not like it. I think this will eventually happen,  it's just the ever going competition between the   decentralized money and the centralized money that  will just go on. People will still slowly choose   to use digital centralized money because of the  limited supply and the central bank will still   push this agenda. It will be a battle for  a really long time, I don't know how long   it will take though. I'd rather focus on  what we can do in the decentralized area.   Speaking of identity, the government has the  capacity to provide digital identity and it   was possible even before blockchain because  you don't have to involve transaction logic,   you don't transfer it. So you can solve it  with traditional. You don't auction them,   you can solve it with traditional cryptography  so the real showstopper, I would say, is not the   availability of technology. It's something to do  with the public acceptance and the political will   behind making it happen. If you look at Estonia,  for example, they have this digital residence   which is a digital identity and you can use that  to generate proof. It has the token-like feature.   You don't have a card and you can request  approve, you can request a signature which   is similar to authorization. They already do  that, so my thinking is if it doesn't depend   on blockchain technology and it's up taking  is slow then even with blockchain technology,   it probably won't change. So we should be seeing  other tokens going first like a car token,   like your special membership token, giving  an NFT token that with some rights attached   they will take off first. Yeah, yeah so it's  more about these enterprising businesses that   see opportunities for them to jump on board and  that will help normalize the notion of people   having a common wallet where they have a number of  different assets in there that provide different   services such as the loyalty or the car token or  whatever else. Then from there, governments might   eventually play catch up and say 'yeah okay let's  jump on here because everyone's using a digital   asset wallet now'. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so  moving on from smart tokens and TokenScript,   something that launched, well came up on my radar  this year was Alchemy NFT which was a new platform   that you guys launched. You managed to secure  some quite high profile backing there as well.   Is this a project that just came together this  year or is it something you'd been working on   for a while? As with all these things, a fair bit  of work goes into getting you to where you are.   So Alchemy NFT is reflected in the way we think.  Actually we are going to give ourselves something   lab because the way we think is when we formalize  it we want to make a lab out of it. You will see   that coming out soon. So our team always had this  view that there will be evolution around tokens.   So once we see that NFTs got popular,  the first question we asked ourselves is   'where will the evolution take us?' and the  answer is you will want to have a lot of added   properties to these NFT tokens. So for example, an  NFT gives you certain rights but you might want to   subdivide these rights like the right to display  it and the right to use it in a project, you might   want to divide it, you might want to use that  right to derive new energy tokens too. So one way   to divide it is if you have a duck, then you might  want to have it colored in different ways and   these are all originated from same piece of art  which might have value in their own way or that   you might derive that into the usage right as well  as the right of the NFT. You might divide it and   you might have a rental right or you might have  a subdivision right. You want to do things to it.   So that's a natural way where NFTs are going.  So we think it's quite natural. The reason we   call it Alchemy is because we do magic to the NFT  and turn it into something else which potentially   has more value or a number of something else  which has a lot of new properties. The project   is in its relatively early stage. We have a  working example of that which is add autograph to   it, which is already online and people are using  it. We have got a lot of good feedback. We have   backing, we have prominent investors such as Mark  Cuban in the game in the early stage but I think   it's more of a meeting of minds happening here.  He says 'okay if we are we are here, where are we   going to be there? The next step'. And I think he  agrees with what we are seeing that NFTs are going   to have more features and then you have going more  to have more derived rights and derivations itself   and functions like adding autographs. So we  are working towards that direction. What will   come out of that is going to be a cluster of  smart contracts exploring different ways of   using NFT tokens and it goes quite well with token  script as well because we are going to add a token   layer to it with token script technology. So  I'm really looking forward to see how this   rich function, rich token is going to play a  role in the ecosystem. What we are seeing today   is not going in that direction but we will see  things go in that direction. What we see today is   it expands the breadth, the NFT space is expanding  the breadth but not the depth. So if you like a   cartoon duck, I give you a cartoon duckling and I  give you a cartoon bird and I give you different   birds. That's just variations on the same theme.  Once you finish the birds and all the punks,   you start with the robots. You will see a lot of  different robots and aliens, I don't know! So we   see supply and demand. People want to have an NFT  then people produce a lot more NFTs but the supply   demand also works in the depth direction. People  will more and more value the tokens with more   functions and derivatives and that's what will  happen, I think. Yeah, okay and so really, the   Alchemy NFT it's had a lot of prominent support  because of the autograph functionality. You've had   well-known people, I think Vitalik signed an  NFT that then got auctioned for charity and so   that's just like almost one of the initial  experiments but you envisage going a lot deeper   though with where it can go? We think that there  will be a lot of features, a lot of derivations   from NFTs. An autograph is just one that we wanted  to test - is this where people will really want   to have it? Then we want to test a lot of other  ideas and this will be where competition will be,   maybe later this year or maybe next year, this  will be called battlefield for competition in   NFT space. After this, there will be smart  tokens but right now we are adding features   one by one to the tokens. Yeah and so then tied  in with this and no doubt there is crossover with   the work that you've been doing previously with  AlphaWallet, the Alchemy team have spoken about   their universal login technology too and that that  is another area of interest. Is that something   that you're looking at with Alchemy or is it  something that's more tied in with the smart   tokens and some of the existing ones? Yeah so  one of the early revelations we had when we made   token-based projects, four years ago when I was  leading the projects in the Commonwealth Bank   in Australia, was that a key based authentication  was really hard to accomplish for a few reasons.   A more practical solution is to identify your  attestation associated with tokens. So rather   than saying that this token belongs to Ethereum  key 0x505, you see that this token belongs to   the owner that is identified by a twitter  handle or an email address. Then later have   an attestation proof that the Ethereum address is  linked to that. So the reasons for that is it's   sometimes reasonable to change the key because  you might lose it or you might expose it or that   for adoption reasons some people will get  a token before they even get a key so that   has to be identified by something else. So that's  one thing that differentiates us from early web3   authentication, key based authentication. We try  to do this on our attestation layer not on the key   layer, not on direct key association with tokens.  This is the technology we provided to Devcon,   you will see that being used. So that's one  difference between existing web authentication.   The other difference is I think that we will  enter an era where authentication is more about   tokens than identities. So say if you  go to Steam apps, buy a computer game   then what works is you might have some cash  and buy it, ether or whatever, you might   have a privilege token, for example you previously  bought Halo 3 so you can buy Halo 4 at a discount.   You might have achievement tokens which  help you to maybe get discount or get   expansion pack and you might have a  proof of age which makes you access   nudity and violent content. So all these tokens  work together, they are not tied to a single   identity. They are just at different  stages. You might want to use them,   for example, if you want to see the list of age 18  games then you need to show the token that is not   related to part where you checkout. The checkout  will check out you might spend your ether but when   you want to see the listing including nudity then  you want to use some tokens so in the interaction,   different stages of interaction will require  different tokens. I think that it's more useful   for authentication to be buried into  token so it's like show me the token,   use the token rather than taking an authentication  as a problem to solve. You are either logged   in or not logged in. So in the the scenario I  described, there is no prominent login process.   You just use tokens in the normal way and I think  this will open doors for a lot of innovation. At   the beginning, it's difficult to mentally accept  it because you want to log in and the reason you   want to login is because you didn't have token,  your mind was staying with the web two where you   have identifier and that decides everything. We  will see a shift once tokens play a more prominent   role. Yeah, again it's kind of taking it back to  what we're saying earlier about the cookie analogy   similarities. Is there not this real risk  though of people getting inundated with them?   Because I can only see this future where every  subscription I have, I have a token, potentially   every significant purchase I make that's not  groceries or you know consumables, I have a token.   Are people not going to get overwhelmed with the  number of tokens that they have to manage because   if you have a wallet, I think you could quite  quickly end up with tens of thousands of them   in your day-to-day life. You probably will  and it probably will be a management hassle,   you're right. I think it's less of a management  hassle if these things that represent your rights   are distributed on different websites. It's  less trouble. Today, people remember so many   usernames and passwords, every one on a website.  Then if you want to access your points or your   silver card in Qantas Airline, you need to go to  Quantas' website. So you need to keep a set of   usernames and passwords and you need to know where  your right is, your token is. So it's already very   complicated. The number of tokens we're going to  have is probably going to be equivalent or less   than the number of passwords you keep for every  website because you can use one token to log into   multiple websites. But importantly, you don't have  to remember the relationship. You don't have to   say 'okay I have or I haven't got the game Control  but I don't remember where it is. Let me go to   Origin, log into Origin and let me log into Steam  play and then no it's not here. Where is my game?   I played this game and then no I don't know where  it is.' So today it's even worse! Yeah, but is   there not also a risk though that with Google,  Facebook and Amazon, all of these companies that   have significant weight, in that future they just  issue a token and so right now you have your sign   in with Google and all of a sudden I've got my  Google token and that replaces what I've used   on all these other sites. But I'm still  relying on Google's issuance there. Yes,   you might be able to control the information more  readily but all it takes is them to adopt that and   then it's going to squash a lot of the innovation  and what people are trying to build out. All of   the things I mentioned that can be accomplished  by tokens can already be accomplished and will   be accomplishable through Google or through  Apple. There's nothing new in that respect. The   only thing is whether or not Google and Apple are  able to do this fast enough and innovative enough.   So this will be the time we really test the theory  of free market. So let's take a Google app, let's   click app for example you can already have your  car key in Apple, you can already open your car   and start the engine with Apple mobile 4. If you  previously set up the trust, the custodianship,   and in this case you're actually giving the car  control to Apple and later you are asking Apple to   do this and that which is similar to if you have  a token except that Apple controls everything.   Then suppose there is a startup that says 'Okay  Apple we need a new feature. We need to not only   send a key to our friends, we need a new feature  called authorize management feature because I   want to manage this car for three months and be  able to generate new keys in that three months.   The reason I want to do this Apple is because I  have a new startup idea where the unused cars will   be used through delegated management.' And Apple  will say 'Okay. so what's in it for me?' This is   what would happen here, this will not be the same  conversation with tokens, it will be different.   Token issuers, car token makers, they want their  car to be everywhere on the street. They want the   maximum market access. Google and Apple, they want  market access that benefits them and they each   have a moat against their ecosystem. So if the  free market theory still works, then a free market   will prevail. It'll definitely be interesting to  see how it pans out anyway with them. Certainly it   does feel like those companies haven't really  embraced the decentralization as much as they   could do but with Facebook's recent rebranding to  focus on the metaverse and so on, I think it'll   certainly be fun to see what innovations come  out of that. Going back to universal log ins,   one of the things that's come up recently was  the Ethereum Foundation putting out a request for   proposals on this notion of universal login using  Ethereum so rather than making use of these QAuth   services where you hook in with a Facebook login  or a Twitter one, LinkedIn or whatever else, they   want to work with companies who are looking to use  Ethereum to solve that. Does that tie over with   the universal login and attestations that you've  been talking about or is that something different?   So we actually submitted a proposal to them and I  haven't heard from the Ethereum Foundation. Maybe   they were accepted, maybe they were not. Their  angle was - so we have a huge cross-section but   the angle is different - the Ethereum Foundation  is more looking at how to improve the adoption of   Ethereum by making Ethereum-based authentication  more accessible to the traditional developers.   Also, how to make it easier to unwrap new users,  this is the angle they are coming from. They chose   a problem that was bothering web 2 developers  for a long while. Usually people have to rely   on Google to do this and so they are trying to  compete directly with Google. So my view/ angle   is mostly from token - what innovation can we  enable the token to do? So there's a cross section   in both that will address the authentication  problem and there are protocol details that   both the Ethereum Foundation and TokenScript both  care about. We are providing a proposal that is   utilizing what we know as the best practice as  well as being as compatible as possible with   the future token-based economy. I hope they will  accept this direction and I think what we proposed   is an improvement over most of the existing  use cases. For example, usually in our proposal   the key will be generated for the session and  its expiration is controlled by a few parameters.   While in the traditional web authentication, the  Ethereum key is used directly which creates two   problems. First, Ethereum keys are associated  with an asset, the use of which will potentially   endanger the asset and second, you don't have  session control. If the user logs in to different   computer and you cannot click the button and  say log me off of every other device there's   no control over that. So our proposal has this  considered, let's hope it's accepted. Yeah, it's   good to hear about the differences though with  that approach and how, like you say, looking at it   from a token-centric perspective is more powerful  and helps avoid some of these challenges with it.   Yes, so not all tokens will be authenticated  based on the same Ethereum key for security   reasons and for use case reasons. Some tokens have  its own authentication mechanism so it's better to   enclose the authentication in token and try to  make it as silent as possible. Yeah, so moving   on from Alchemy and tokens and everything else,  you're here in the UK at the moment for COP26.   Yes. What is it that caught your interest,  that's made you choose to travel over here for   the conference given where you currently focused?  First, no matter which industry you are working   in, you are going to be affected by climate change  unless you don't believe that climate change has   anything to do with human activity. We may not  be able to solve the climate change and I'm not   very optimistic about it but everybody should be  aware. I have two kids and you have two kids too,   so there's no reason to not be interested  simply because head is not my area of focus.   Absolutely, yeah. But, the angle I'm coming  from is mostly how trading mechanism will   solve the tragedy of the commons problems. So the  problem we are facing is there has to be adequate   amount of climate action to reduce emission and  that either comes from the government or it comes   from the market. Coming from the government is not  a very good idea because most people believe that   government is already too big and doesn't have  our interest in mind and the government expenses   probably will be misaligned with climate goals. A  more efficient way to do that is to utilize market   so that carbon emission is priced in. The way to  do that is to allow carbon credit trading in the   free market so a company can reduce their carbon  footprint therefore reduce the price they have to   pay and therefore they have a more competitive  price on their end product. So I think this is   a really efficient way because it uses free market  to allocate resources. However, I say this a lot,   you need three legs for a stool unless it's a  bar stool! You need three legs for stool, the   three legs are technology - in this case carbon  trading mechanism, and policy - a political will,   you have to be certified so that your product  can be sold as a carbon accounting form,   and then you have to have market participation. So  what I'm afraid of and what happened in the past,   is that blockchain technology alone will  not save it if there is no policy support   and if there is no market participation. So every  year, last year the COP didn't happen, every year   I'm keen to observe whether or not the political  wheel is growing to the point where the policy is   practical and the market participants are willing  enough and if that is the year then I think the   technology will be useful and we should be really  looking at how to use technology in the community   as well as from our labs and our investors  point of view. So my goal here at COP is   mostly awareness, it doesn't make sense if there  are two other legs missing and I devote my life   into a carbon credit trading system and just waste  my creative years. But, if the condition is good   then everybody should be interested to use  blockchain to help solving our climate crisis.   And certainly with the Paris Agreement, in  terms of the the language that's been used,   it is much more friendly towards  decentralized technologies rather than   this is a predecessor. The Kyoto Protocol had  wording about having these centralized data   stores where they capture a lot of emissions and  reporting information whereas for with the Paris   Agreement it's sort of more embraces this idea  of decentralization. The World Bank have got   their climate warehouse which they're looking  at a way of aggregating a lot of this data.   People like Microsoft, they've made these very  public announcements about what they intend to   do with respect to getting to net zero I think  by 2030 and then eliminating all of their prior   carbon emissions by 2050. Then any organizations  like that have been trying as well to make inroads   here but there's still certain challenges further  up the chain like the work that actually you   know eliminates carbon offsets for instance,  the inadequate technology in place to ensure   that the data's being captured well at source  about say these trees being planted and then   them ultimately being certified as these you can  think of them as tokens really that represent the   removal of carbon offsets. So there's a lot of  challenges that exist in the space but no doubt   it's going to be fascinating to have all of  those leaders there and everything else and   see what they're saying. Yes there are a lot of  problems and there are a lot of solutions too.   The previous Paris Agreement was a good one. The  thing is it was not formed with strong consensus.   This year is different, after two disasters,  two runs like natural disasters and then we   have covid, people are more aware of the  predicament we are in. Humanity is in a   really delicate balance of moving parts so there's  a hope that this year the wheel is stronger   from the global consensus from the nations that  the problem they are describing there will be   a will to seek solutions for these problems. So  previously like for example, carbon credit - how   do you certify a tree being issued? - well you  can create a cryptographic attestation. But,   how do you know the test is true? Well you  need to have someone to solve the dispute or   a smart contract to solve the dispute. There  are solutions, these solutions are not cheap   but there are solutions. But you need the will,  you need everybody to agree that we need to come   up with solutions for these problems and that's  what I come to COP to learn. So my journey is the   one that gives me awareness, like the program for  the wisdom not for direct action. Once I get the   wisdom, once it feels like now humanity can take  on this problem then action. Yeah, your mind's had   the time to process everything that you've learned  there. Yeah. Wonderful, well hopefully there'll   be some some good outcomes here with everyone  getting together after it was delayed for so long.   Yeah there are already promising projects and  some of the projects are utilizing a lot of   consensus will, like the business leaders. I  will learn more about that and then given the   opportunity, I will write a blog post after the  COP conference. Awesome, I look forward to that.   So Weiwu, just in terms of wrapping up our  conversation now, if people want to keep abreast   of everything that's happening with AlphaWallet  and Alchemy NFT and also TokenScripts and contact   you, what are the places that they should head  to or social handles they should follow? First,   follow our Twitter. So our twitter currently  handle is @AlphaWallet but we are going to rebrand   and have a lab behind it and so that AlphaWallet  is one of the components and we have Alchemy   and TokenScript will all come in but if you  subscribe to AlphaWallet you will get notified of   that line of activities. Then we will publish  the Alchemy white paper very soon and then,   TokenScript already have a paper, it's a few years  old but because TokenScript's idea is a little   more ahead you will not hear about TokenScript's  immediate smart token thing for a few months. But   we will update that once we have the negotiator  for Devcon we will publish on Twitter as well   and we will publish an intermediary paper to  explain where we are now compared to when the   first paper was produced like three years ago.  Okay, awesome. But, Twitter is the most important   way to keep in touch with us. We also have a  Discord channel, it should be easy to find! Cool! Well Weiwu, it's been an absolute  pleasure to host you today and   great that you're able to make it over  to London as well to have this chat.   Thank you for allowing me to into your house to do  this project. My pleasure, thank you. Thank you.