In this series of articles I will present my analysis on the DarkFi blockchain.
In this series of articles I will present my analysis on the DarkFi blockchain. This first is limited to the introduction of the project.
This project, which defines itself as an anarchist philosophy, calls itself DarkFi, in reference to DeFi, Decentralized Finance based on cryptography, and “Going Dark” quoted in a 2014 speech by former FBI director James Comey, about the problem that pervasive encryption featured for law enforcement agencies to police digital activity.
If you don’t know anarchist philosophy, I’ll share with you at the end, an article I wrote some time ago that also talks about cryptoanarchy (1).
The Cypherpunk’s Manifesto Eric Hughes begins by saying: “Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.”
DarkFi was founded by Amir Taaki, an early Bitcoin developer, who now works with an international group of coders on a privacy blockchain network. The team members are said to be spread between Europe and the Middle East.
According to various publications, including Wikipedia, Taaki, of British-Iranian descent, was born in 1988. After briefly attending two British universities, Taaki gravitated to the free software movement. Taaki helped create SDL COLLIDE, an extension to the DirectMedia Simple Layer, an open source library used by game developers. In 2009 and 2010, Taaki made a living as a professional poker player. His experience with online gambling drew him to the Bitcoin project.
He was listed among the top Bitcoin developers. He founded the UK’s first bitcoin exchange, “Britcoin”. Then in 2011 it was the lead developer of a new UK exchange called “Intersango”, currently closed. In 2012, Taaki organized the first Bitcoin conference in London.
According to public sources, Taaki is believed to have lived in London and Syria in recent years, but his current location is unknown, for obvious reasons.
The original mission of Bitcoin was to challenge traditional banking and fiat currency issuance by governments, proposing P2P cash to allow individual sovereignty of people.
In my opinion, it seems that the whole cypherpunk philosophy movement, from the early days of Bitcoin, has slowly been lost. The focus of the crypto space is becoming more investor and more capitalist, succumbing to state pressure for sanctions and regulations, or implementing backdoors, so that projects can survive.
The developer team believes that what is currently called “Web3” is becoming a surveillance tool that is being increasingly abused by officials. If this continues, the privacy of society will be almost non-existent and politics will be a dictatorship in which every user and citizen will have to stay online in order not to be considered undesirable by central authorities.
Privacy has become a taboo, which in current conditions, often results in the violent termination of a project’s development, in the name of transparency and the prevention of illicit activities.
The DarkFi developers believe that the crypto space will split into two: RegFi, (Regulated Finance) controlled by governments, and DarkFi, a truly free, decentralized, and uncensored paradigm.
Bitcoin is a pseudonymous network, all transactions in its ledger are recorded in public view, that is, they are transparent and traceable, although in principle their owners are not known, but they could be known with related off-chain data (social networks, address IP, etc.).
Second-generation blockchains such as Ethereum, launched in 2015, provided programmability, and then others such as third-generation Cardano, with the new Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus protocol, added the self-governance project to their design. But they all followed the same path of transparency and traceability of their ledger.
On the other hand, others such as Monero or Dash have offered the privacy of transactions, not displaying the records of their ledger.
DarkFi tries to address the programmability of the third generation, but with privacy. If I may, I would go so far as to call it fourth-generation blockchain.
What is DarkFi?
DarkFi is a community and a movement that seeks to create systems for people to preserve fundamental human rights, such as the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and the right to interact with one another without intermediaries.
Counter-economics gives us tools to design systems for free communities. Cryptoanarchy is the tactic of using cryptography for the counter-economy. Privacy technologies are emerging stronger than ever, and they are completely unstoppable.
DarkFi wants to create anonymous and secure cryptography, just like Monero and Zcash. The difference is that DarkFi seeks to develop applications with smart contracts, beyond being a money system like the ones I mentioned.
Inspired by Richard Stallman and the free software movement, DarkFi is fully licensed under the GNU AGPL, with the philosophy of free software, unlike most developments in the crypto industry.
DarkFi is not a corporate startup, but an economic and democratic project, an operating system for society.
DarkFi is made up of a Layer 1 (L1) blockchain that functions as a network of P2P nodes, which interact with each other using specific protocols, with privacy by default, a P2P IRC messaging system with encrypted groups and DMs, and even tools decentralized collaboration for organization, task management, among other utilities.
The initial focus will be simple anonymous exchanges and a DAO for governance. In its roadmap it is planned to build organizational tools and expand the ecosystem.
DAO and DeFi will make it possible to give life to a democratic space where multiple cultures, ethnic groups and political formations coexist, with a confederalist structure.
DarkFi is based on the Zero-Knowledge encryption protocol, multi-party computation, and homomorphic encryption, and includes language and developer toolkits for creating unobjectionable code.
DarkFi intends to make anonymous engineering very accessible to developers.
Their consensus is Proof of Stake, and their protocol Ouroboros Crypsinous, designed by IOHK, the developer company of Cardano, ensures validators are hidden, tuned with a discrete controller to stabilize issuance, using blockchain parallel leader choice.
Its consensus token is Drk.
Darkfi offers an antifragile environment for building and running anonymous applications.
The Darkfi Blockchain lead, staking, unstaking, and transaction contracts are written in ZKAS language, which is a compiler for the zkVM Halo2 language.
Asked by POLITIC, the respected online news outlet, experts who reviewed DarkFi’s announcement and its website, said the project appeared to be technically sophisticated, while still being skeptical of its developers’ vision: “They seem like they’re actually putting a lot of engineering effort into it” said Matthew Green, a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University and co-founder of Sealance, a startup that integrates advanced encryption systems.
Then Evan Shapiro, CEO of the San Francisco-based Mina Foundation, which backs another next-generation crypto network, said: “They are aiming to do something very, very powerful. They do know how to do it and they’re thinking correctly”.
But Shapiro said that in critical respects, DarkFi was behind in its development to a handful of venture-backed crypto protocols that had similar technical ambitions while being designed for more conventional commercial purposes. He said that at a technical level, DarkFi was likely to differ little from these more-commercial projects, even if it attracted applications and users more aligned with its anarchist vision.
The blockchain is on Testnet at the time of writing this article, started on February 03, 2023, where the community can test the UX for bugs to fix.
In a next installment, I will go deep, I will analyze The DarkFi Book, su Whitepaper.
Let there be Dark. DarkFi