AskLEO series #1

Q1: The update says: “expand the use case to more domains, pushing for the use cases with World Bank and other organizations.” Does it indeed say that Leo will develop with and/or for the World Bank and not just Zhijun Zhang?

A: Mr. Zhijun Zhang is the chief security architect, working in World Bank (WB). He has a deep understanding of network and blockchain technology. He participated in the Data Capitalization Movement and Leo initiative as a community member, on behalf of himself. During 2018 to 2019, there was a lot of discussion in the community about the TEE on Elastos. Zhijun brought a lot of insights to the community. Leo technology is very suitable to some cases of WB, such as managing the healthcare and disease data from the developing countries. It is possible that Leo will become WB’s use case when Leo technology is ready. Meanwhile, Leo is working on building technology and potential use cases with CRHA and more. So far, there is no official deal between Leo and WB. WB opportunity is our mid term goal.

Q2: Could you explain what a typical use-case would be?

A: Let’s take a simple case here. Alice takes a pic of herself. She owns that data. But she wants to polish the image before publishing it to social media. Bob has an algorithm of image processing that can handle Alice’s data. Alice wants Bob to process the image but doesn’t want Bob to keep a copy. Here Charlie comes. Charlie owns a TEE node and he can provide services to Alice (data owner) and Bob (algorithm developer) to make the job done and at the same time protect both data and algorithm from being stolen by each other. In this case, Alice is the data owner and user, she wants to pay for the job. Charlie provides the trusted computing environment so he makes money from the job. Bob also makes money because the job used his software service.

If we expand this to enterprise level. You can imagine a lot of business cases can be handled like this. Currently, while Leo is still building the base platform, we are actively working with some potential partners to build good cases together. I won’t elaborate here but you can think about the collaboration between healthcare data owners, insurance companies, data analytics providers, etc., through Leo platform.

Q3: How would users interact with trusted computing + elastOS?

A: We haven’t spent too much time on elastOS (I assume you mean Trinity browser as elastOS) because it’s still in the early stage. There is a lot of work for elastOS to do first, such as iOS adoption, key apps exercises, and cross platform support. We believe enterprise applications will be more on native platforms first. Leo is using the same base infrastructure as elastOS (the trinity browser). The fundamental thing is to protect user’s data, separate the application and data, through secured data transmission and storage.

4: What kind of vertical domain dApps do you envision? And how do they work?

A: Domains: healthcare, insurance, finance, digital rights related, etc. It’s too early to describe how they work. Each case will have its own logic. The concept is like what we described in Q2 above.

Q5: What would be your (rough) timeline? When do you think the v1 will be operational so we can proudly share it with the world?

A: The simulation demo code was done last Q3-Q4. The credit goes to Kevin Zhang. That was the phase 1 of Leo. Now we are starting phase 2. The main goal for next 6 months is to build the basic version of the actual platform, build several key cases with partners (typical but no necessary big) as PoC. When these are done, Leo will be able to present itself to more big companies and organizations. At the same time, we will also try the consumer approach to build some interesting cases in the digital rights management domain.

In my opinion, since we are all in this internet and digital economy era, and everything is so new to the world, I prefer to make 6 months plan and move on with fast iteration. The key is to deliver the short term plan, be recognized by the market and community first. This zero-to-one period is very important.

Q6: With the entertainment use-case, does this mean that it is required to create a new media-player as well so that the “owner” can set restrictions on how often something can be played etc?

A: Yes, for digital rights related use-case, the new media-player type of environment is needed. This is a confirmed direction and we encourage community bring in talents and use cases down the road. In 2019, my team worked with several talents on the ERMP (Elastos Rights Management Platform) proposal. The goal was to build cases in this domain. The proposal didn’t go through, but the plan remains valid in my mind.

Q7. How do you expect that users will interact with the hardware?

A: Through TEE. Actually users only interact with the applications. The applications talks to hardware through TEE.

Q8. In your ideal world, would the hardware be built-in into mobile phones etc? Or would this be something that remains centralized to some extent?

A: There are already security chips in all our mobile phones. People are trying to figure out how to make an universal-fit solution and be phone brand insensitive. In the cloud server domain, there are also security chips built in. The hardware base is there. We just need to make sure such capability is wisely used by Leo. We want to go decentralized. We are working on the plan and code now.

Q9: What are your top 3 benefits of LEO on elastOS vs anything else?

A: I guess there is a typo in your question. It should be “LEO on Elastos”, not “LEO on elastOS”. There is a fundamental difference between the two.

Top benefits of LEO on Elastos are (but not limited to):

  • Data ownership and privacy protection

  • Trusted computing (executing) environment

  • Community-wide consensus and incentive

Q10: So LEO is not directly affiliated with Elastos but it will use Elastos tech in the solutions offered to clients. LEO will play a significant role in the Elastos Ecosystem. Could you elaborate on this and on how it will benefit the SmartWeb?

A: Leo is an ecosystem project on top of Elastos infrastructure. The key technologies that Leo is (will) using are Main Chain, ETH Sidechain, DID sidechain, Carrier nodes, Hive nodes, Trinity. We consider it as a business infrastructure on top of Elastos base infrastructure. It’s obvious this will benefit Elastos and ELA a lot.

Q11: Do I understand correctly that the trusted computing module will make elastOS stronger/more solid but it does in principle not really need elastOS?

A: Again, it will make Elastos project stronger for sure. But if you only refer to elastOS (Trinity browser), I don’t know, 'cause Trinity is still in early stage. It’s just one piece of base components (Blockchain, Carrier, Hive, Runtime, Services).

Q12: If someone has a great idea/use case and wants to build it using LEO, how long will it take before she/he can start developing it?

A: It’s too early to say. It will be clearer after 3-6 months.

Q13: Some of the criticism on trusted computing is that eventually we put a lot of power in the hands of the company who built it. If this is done on elastOS, would that change? What is your answer to some common criticism?

A: It’s all about how you build the business model on top of the trust computing technology. As I mentioned above, enterprise is an important use scenario. but there are more if we open it up to the decentralized community model. We don’t want to just provide a technical solution as an IT service to big hands, we also build a new business model to make it benefit all individuals.

Q14: Do you feel that you can state that the work-group members are DMA/MPF’s partners or have we not reached that state yet?

A: DMA team is a key community member in Leo project, especially when phase 2 starts. This is why I am answering all these questions. MPF will provide necessary support and partnership development. The project is wide open to all talents who want to contribute to the project.

Q15: With all these ‘partners’, the stakes are very high. Who will eventually officially ‘own’ the trusted computing module? Or will all be open sourced?

A: It will be open sourced. No legal entity will be the owner. It’s a community based project from day one. One thing for sure, People will benefit from it by holding your ELA and seeing it grow. :slightly_smiling_face:

Q16: Are there any other comparable projects that you know of trying to accomplish the same thing as LEO / trusted computing ? If so can you name them? If not, how was this idea thought of originally (i.e. who is the brainchild)

A: We don’t want to make direct comparisons because the technology and business models are all different. Technology wise, I recently spent some time on projects like OASIS and other similar ones.

Q17: I saw Huawei(or one of its engineers) participate as Community Initiators at LEO on Elastos: Community Launch. Is Huawei still involved in any way in this project? If this is confidential, can you at least make a hint if they’re involved even a little on this project?

A: The answer is NO.

Leo is building community through the ‘data capitalization movement’. we welcome anyone who is interested in this domain. They might have the background of different companies or organizations, but they only represent themselves and obey the confidentiality agreement with their employers. Leo is an open community not a company at this stage. In that meeting, people from Tencent Cloud participated as community members as well. In the future, we hope the technology from Leo can be used by any company if they need it. The progress will be transparent to the community, including the deal with important companies in the future (which must be exciting news, isn’t it?).

Q18: Can you explain what is eID and the difference with DID?

A: The eID we are talking about here is the electronic identity of a citizen in China. The government defined the eID standard and developed the technology. A company got permission to build a so-called ‘digital identity chain’ platform. Its vision is to help citizens manage their own data on the chain with eID. It’s a permissioned blockchain approach. We are participating in a project with them on managing personal health data under the current COVID-19 virus situation. We use DID-eID dual structure to make sure the project will benefit Elastos’ growth. The DID here is Elastos DID sidechain.

The while paper we wrote for CRHA is for medial data domain. It also requires strict privacy control with real person identity. So the plan is to use eID as the main ID for data owner and have DID associated with it for extension.

Q19: What is Kevin’s role in Leo, before now and after?

A: Kevin Zhang is an important member of the Leo community. In phase 1, Kevin led the discussion and planning. MPF sponsored such research, planning, and feasibility study on technology. The Leo initiative was stated in 2018 by Kevin, Feng, and other core members. The talk with Zhijun Zhang, the World Bank chief security architect, gave the project a push in the direction. Kevin visited DC for meetings with WB. By the summer of 2019, when the community announced the 'Data Capitalization Movement" in ShenZhen, Kevin wrote the simulation code and remotely demonstrated it to the audience. He continued polishing the simulation code in Q4 of 2019. Kevin’s contribution is well recognized by MPF and others. Starting in summer of 2019, other members are joining the Leo community, including me from the DMA team and some experts from industry. This is the period to do research and feasibility study on business models. During this phase, Kevin became the advisory role. The core community is growing. We worked together on finding and defining use cases with various potential partners. Some cases are in China so local teams can make quicker efforts. The development effort is shifting to the local team. Please see the progress update file for details. As a technologist in Silicon Valley, Kevin remains as an adviser and key community member of Leo, always.

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AskLEO series #1