Gavin Wood: Explaining the Polkadot Launch Process

The world continues to witness rapid advancements in blockchain technology. Polkadot is also one of those innovative platforms founded by Gavin Wood. He is a computer scientist, co-founder of Ethereum, and former CTO of the Ethereum Foundation explains the entire Polkadot launch process in this video conference.

How He Got Where He is Today?

It was 2016 when Gavin Wood started thinking about how he could create the next version of Ethereum. He hosted the first Polkadot meetup in Berlin and emphasized using the existing technologies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to come up with a more futuristic and capable blockchain platform.

The Core Idea Behind Polkadot

Gavin Wood’s aimed to build a unique platform to disintermediate many of the middlemen, institutions, and authorities by eliminating the need for trust in society. In the beginning, they had a patchwork of some kind of independent and isolated legal system of the worldwide internet. According to him, it was a big problem because this creates different groups who share the same vision and face misalignment in terms of achieving their goals. 

Gavin Wood identified the existing technology of Bitcoin and Ethereum that allows automating the most fundamental aspect of the economy which is trust. His idea was to make an autonomous and efficient platform that can expand the capabilities of the existing system and provide the users with a more agency-oriented system that doesn’t require them to trust someone.  

He said that his team has this general idea of keeping Ethereum 2 under development while working on Ethereum back in 2014. He was motivated and encouraged his team to embark on something that can be complimentary to Ethereum in 2016. 

What is Polkadot and How It Became a Reality?

Polkadot is multi-chain technology that focuses on executing multiple transactions at the same time making it possible for different chains to interoperate with each other efficiently. With Polkadot, Gavin Wood and his team were able to unleash the real potential of parallelizing multiple blocks and achieve a hundred times the number of transactions per second (TPS) taking place on a single block or a chain like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

In 2018, Gavin Wood attended the first Web3 Summit in Berlin and presented his unique idea to the audience. He said that Polkadot is the biggest bet in this ecosystem that works against chain maximalism. He took 15 minutes and gave a demo of developing a custom blockchain and upgrading it online using a simple MacBook.  

He downloaded a substrate node template which was a very small repository acting as a sort of skeleton blockchain. The substrate is a blockchain framework that allows making new blockchains by placing a specialized logic. He says that substrates are written in such a way that they act as any conventional blockchain like Bitcoin and Ethereum as well as one of the unique blockchains under the umbrella of Polkadot that are known as parachains. He put efforts into creating a whole new class of development teams and applications where experts do not have to worry about knowing everything and can simply focus on doing just enough to come up with a domain-specific chain with its parameterization. He made it a reality to get a new job done that wouldn’t have been possible before because smart contracts were too expansive and needed a lot of work to write a new blockchain.  

Gavin Wood Wanted to Create an Autonomous Algorithmic Service Online

While talking about the coding revolution, he said, “the keyboards will soon become mightier than the pen pretty soon.” 

It was 2020 when he got near to the launch of Polkadot in Berlin and everything came together nicely. He started with the launching of the first chain candidate for a Polkadot Relay Chain with the Web3 Foundation. 

The candidate attempted to launch a new chain “Genesis Block” acting as a proof of authority and a simple bookkeeping exercise. It enabled the team of experts to start the chain without needing validators and potentially unfilled governance structure. 

They started to evolve a restricted chain into a fully decentralized and permissionless chain with the Genesis Block while gaining trust in the network’s stability. They used a pseudo module to lift the limitations on this restricted chain through a series of governance decisions. This module is known to allow a single element to issue any kind of command it wants within the system. It can rewrite the chain logic and reprogram it according to the requirements. The entire launch process comprised of the following phases:

The First Phase:

Polkadot operated as a proof of authority chains, fixed the validator nodes, make sure that the validators never change, and that these validators will always be operated by the Web3 Foundation. In this phase, the chain was limited to only a few functionalities. 

The first functionality is the Pseudo Module which allows the Web3 Foundation to upgrade the chain as per the requirements. The second functionality is to allow claims so that dot tokens indicators can be easily claimed. And the third functionality allows the owners of the allocations who signal their allocations to the state while becoming the validators. 

The Second Phase:

Polkadot’s second phase started with having enough people signaling their intent with pseudo permissions. This allowed the team to switch from proof of authority to proof of stake. In this phase, all the indicators with their signals to become validators will be selected. This allowed Polkadot to move from being operated by a single validator to a set of international validators. By trusting in the economics of the cryptographic logic, they moved the chain into becoming a proof of stake.  

The Third Phase:

In the third phase, the team used a pseudo key to enabled various pieces of governance to function. At this state, the governance apparatus of Polkadot became sophisticated and stood alongside Kusama. This phase included the following four modules:

  1. Referendum Module: It that allows a coin weighted voting system meaning that the dot token holders will be able to alter the fate of the Polkadot network. 
  2. Council Module: It allows the token holders to elect a certain number of members to the Polkadot Council.
  3. Technical Committee: It is a non-voted body and selected by those teams who implemented the Polkadot network while upraising the required upgrades.
  4. Treasury: It allows the council as well as the assembled token holders to place funds masked that are masked through the block reward system. 

These four modules allowed the public or the dot token holders to have the avenues to affect changes in the system which means Polkadot was now in the hands of the token holders. It also included a final runtime upgrade by the Web3 Foundation to remove the pseudo module. It involved eliminating the omnipotent position which can cancel the chain.

At this point, Polkadot became a live decentralized and permissionless network. 

The Final Phase:

Followed by the three phases, the final phase of the Polkadot launch included the extra pieces of functionality such as balance transfers allowing the dot token to be transferable instead of just being the validators, rolling out the first parachain, purchasing and leasing modules, and the X CMP cross power chain message.