Moving Beyond Smart Contracts for Web3
A16z recently published a wide-ranging article on the technological, financial, and legal aspects of the emerging Web3 space. It’s well written, and I’d advise anyone who wants to learn more about the conceptual underpinnings of Web3 to give it a read.
However, this article repeats one common misconception: it presupposes that smart contracts are essential to the emerging Web3 architecture instead of something to be overcome as we evolve towards a mature Web3.
What if where we’re going in Web3 won’t need smart contracts anymore? I know it might be hard to imagine a blockchain without smart contracts, but what if we could remove the need for traditional consensus to unlock a compute execution layer? If we don’t need to use traditional consensus, we could potentially exceed the limitations of blockchains that make smart contracts necessary.
In the TEA Project’s architecture for Web3, we placed the traditional consensus on our layer-1 which unlocks our layer-2 to run at cloud computing speeds. We did this because the smart contracts of blockchains like Ethereum are not scalable enough to run rich dApps. Smart contracts are like smart calculators, and running full-featured apps is not what smart contracts are made for. These smart contracts can run the stored procedures just like a traditional database but don’t have any compute layer. Smart contracts excel at areas like DeFi because things like accounting are what smart contracts are good at.
Trusted Computing on Web3
There will be a need for a fully decentralized compute layer to run apps that are currently popular on the centralized web. We can imagine a few scenarios where a decentralized architecture makes better sense for existing cloud apps:
- Private personal data (e.g., health data). Private personal data sitting on remote servers is a historical accident that Web3 will remedy.
- Social media (centralized risk of deplatforming).
- IoT data can benefit from a new architecture that doesn’t require local data to be sent anywhere to be analyzed.
The TEA Project has developed its platform in anticipation of this growing demand for fully-featured apps to run decentralized in Web3. We created a full-speed decentralized compute layer by leaving consensus / Byzantine-fault tolerance to a separate layer. The layer-1 confirms if a layer-2 node is trustable by using their onboard hardware TPM chips to perform remote attestation. This attestation step verifies the execution environment where the code is run. The layer-2 blockchain can then run dApps at full speed on nodes that have been confirmed as trustable by layer-1.
How TEA Project Benefits Its Stakeholders
Web3 will mark a significant departure from the existing internet, where a few big players control the infrastructure. The TEA Project’s compute infrastructure differs from traditional cloud computing in how it’s decentralized and how value accrues to various ecosystem users.
- Ordinary users can own the network by becoming miners through securing an inexpensive mining machine (Raspberry Pi) with both a TPM and GPS module. The TPM is used to perform remote attestation to ensure the trustability of other nodes and to protect the enclave that hosts the developer’s code and customer data. Our state machine uses the GPS to order transactions, similar to Solana’s proof of history.
- Users of dApps (called TApps in the TEA Project ecosystem) can purchase a stake in the app through its TApp token. These tokens are issued according to a bonding curve that gives regular token dividends to TApp token holders.
- Developers no longer have to publish their libraries to Github and hope for donations. In the TEA Project’s composability model, developers can publish their code as microservices and get paid even when they’re integrated within a larger app.
The TEA Project is looking ahead to the next 10 years as a major infrastructure provider for Web3. We’re currently in the middle of our series A round. Interested investors can drop a message in our Telegram as well as directly schedule a meeting with our founder.