This morning we finally got details about what we in the Chia community have known as “Project Atari” for the last few months. There has been rampant speculation and an ever-escalating set of expectations that Chia farmers have set for themselves. Also Gene Hoffman, COO and President of Chia Network, and David Frazee, Chia Network Board member, sat on a panel at the Bloomberg Live global financial summit on a panel called Will Chia Change the World? and discussed the issue with the rest of the financial world. So, yeah, expectations were set high. Does Project Atari meet them?
In a nutshell, yes. Even the most insane, out-there theory. One so insane I responded to Ryry007 in Keybase about how he had set his expectations too high and was geared for disappointed. Ryry, you sir are a wizard.
Chia is developing the prototype for the Climate Warehouse as convened by the World Bank Group. We are working with and welcoming partners to join us and the World Bank. This is a non-exclusive, open source and no cost solution that we are developing for the public good.
The Climate Warehouse will be a public good data layer built on blockchain technology to facilitate the transparent sharing and reporting of climate project information and their issuances. Once operational, the Climate Warehouse will reflect the data from connected independent standard registry systems and governmental systems to enable the traceability of project and unit information.Gene Hoffman, COO and President Chia Network Inc
Basically Ryry007 was more right than wrong. The World Bank Group (WBG) has a program called the Climate Warehouse that will act as an intermediary trustless integration between various signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement, and specifically address Article 6 which covers private Climate markets. In a nutshell, the World Bank’s interoperable Climate market exchange will run on the Chia Network datalayer.
The Climate Warehouse will allow that national and voluntary climate registries can publish their carbon credit to the public blockchain where they can be audited, not double-counted and properly retired. And because the goal is for the WBG to shepherd the program, and Chia Network to develop the technology, with no single entity controlling the system or hosting the infrastructure a public blockchain was selected. And once you’re into public blockchains and not trying to kill the earth, Chia is a pretty natural choice.
Now, I have been quite critical about projects that don’t need a blockchain just using one for the press. I think there are a lot of hurdles to adoption for actually useful blockchain projects, including the unique reliability issues caused by running a massively distributed system as well as the possibility for a much simpler X509 Public Key Infrastructure to handle the same tasks. But this one might be a real, valid use case for a blockchain. With the requirements set to require no specific host country or organization to own the underlying infrastructure, or host root keys with the ability to sign for other entities, a blockchain might in fact be a viable solution. I am still suspicious, and I am curious to look at the detailed architecture in order to do my thing with it, but this might be actual utility. PKI would absolutely require someone to own the keys at the top and handle issuing and revocation of those keys.
As for the reliability question, because the Chia blockchain won’t be hosting the actual climate data on-chain, but merely the verification of that data, none of these individual Climate markets will rely on the Chia Blockchain to function – only the verification between them. Private national climate data will not be hosted by random parties on the internet, only the tables specifically published the to chain and only to those nodes that subscribe to the table. Simply the hashes necessary to identify the veracity of those records will exist on-chain in a singleton (like the Pool NFTs created by farmers), and the datalayer tables will form their own peer to peer network. An event like the recent Chia Dust Storm would have no effect on participants of the Climate Warehouse.
Datalayer leverages the permissionless public Chia blockchain to create much more and auditable way while not giving up control of the data that is uniquely owned by each peer. Datalayer also allows participants to expose large datasets to the public, while keeping private data private, without losing the ability to audit the published data.Gene Hoffman, COO and President Chia Network Inc
I asked if the Climate Warehouse system would utilize Distributed Identities and the answer is not in the prototype, but that there is a good potential to expand capabilities with DIDs. And that makes sense, because in theory no one is making anonymous changes to each other’s data, they are just verifying the changes to ensure compliance. Future updates to the datalayer system will incorporate the ability to provision read permissions to protect private data as well as support for large binary objects.
If this is successful the Chia Blockchain will have to run for a very long time. Cleaning up our planet is not going to be a short process regardless of how successful various Climate change programs are. I asked Gene about their plans here, and they are preparing for that. For example, the Root TLS certificate used to sign certificates to encrypt inter-node travel is set to expire in 100 years. That is normally a throwaway number, because no one expects a network they build to be around in 100 years. But the WBG Climate Warehouse might be, so Gene already has plans in place to resign the root in 50 years and ensure a smooth handover. Assuming TLS is still viable in 50 years.
He and I might not be around to double check that plan, but I’m happy they are thinking of those things. Nothing like getting caught by surprise on something you had 100 years to prepare for.
This is a really big deal for Chia Network, and the farmers who support the network. People have been asking for this kind of news forever, and now that it is here it is hard to predict quite what the reaction will be. Gene thinks this is the first real, production blockchain utility since trustless payments and smart contracts. I am not as versed in the ecosystem as he is, but I tend to agree. If they can pull this off it might begin to change perception around blockchain as merely a complex financial tool and actually something the world can use.
Edit: Here is a good explainer from The World bank.