Chainlink (LINK) on Thursday unveiled its new whitepaper, outlining a planned expansion and the pivot to creating Oracle networks for computation. The proposal would see Chainlink generalize its oracle network into a “meta-layer” of decentralized Oracle networks, or DONs.
The new architecture supports a wider selection of use cases and extends the service package to off-chain computation of data. In Chainlink’s view, these computational oracles would create a class of ‘hybrid smart contracts’ where some of the logic could be transferred to the oracles.
The new oracle networks would continue to focus on functions that blockchains or even layer two networks cannot perform, as Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov explained to Cointelegraph. An existing example of this framework is the Chainlink Verifiable Randomness Function, which provides a critical component for any on-chain lottery that needs a reliable source of randomness. According to Chainlink, this reliance on these apps makes an existing example of hybrid smart contracts. “The DeFi contracts, 95% of them – all but the DEXs – are hybrid smart contracts already,” Nazarov added, referring to the use of third-party pricing feeds.
In the vision outlined in the whitepaper, Chainlink would generalize and expand its existing computational capabilities:
“The extension here is basically in the fact that you can put any executable file in an oracle network to do that. And this greatly expands what an Oracle network can do. “
Nazarov denied that Chainlink is not trying to replace existing blockchains or layer two solutions. The goal is to be a flexible and adaptable data computing solution that can be used to scale existing DApps or even run rollup schemes and other layer two solutions. Chainlink offers a choice of consensus mechanisms and nodes to each individual user, choosing the trust guarantees they need.
“The Chainlink network is a configurable set of validators that can be configured to do whatever you want. […] It is not a blockchain. They [the validators] don’t give you the state and all the guarantees of a blockchain, but they can give you any other type of computation you want to configure them for. “
The practical applications of such a network will largely depend on what the users want to do, but Chainlink expects a number of services to take precedence. One of these is the Fair Sequencing Service, a mineral value extractable solution, or MEV. The idea behind the platform is to have the oracles calculate a “fair” series of transactions that minimizes the value extraction generated by front-running transactions and other techniques. As Nazarov explained, blockchains have no idea of time, which is part of why ordering transactions fairly is difficult, and why Oracle networks can help.
Oracle-based calculations to support certain blockchain transactions are not entirely new, with Chainlink being the most notable provider of specialized data. Recently, the Maker team also suggested using its oracle for a similar purpose by instantly verifying the validity of an optimistic rollup and facilitating instant layer two recordings via Dai.
The new Chainlink whitepaper also introduces a host of other features, most notably a more powerful incentive to report fraudulent transactions called superlinear staking. In this mechanism, bribing a Chainlink node to provide false data becomes quadratically more expensive as more stake is allocated to the network. The system is based on mathematical fraud proofs that entitle viewers to the combined stake of all nodes if they correctly report a fraud case. A potential attacker would have to bribe all viewers for the full amount they could earn, an amount that far exceeds the total stake.
The new concept for the Chainlink network aims to simplify the use of smart contracts enormously. According to Nazarov, too many teams are forced to build core infrastructure to support their DApp:
“I want them to just come in and really quickly build this hybrid smart contract, just like they build it in the web world – you know, in a weekend. And they don’t have to sort out all this shit! That’s what I think the future is. “