John P. Conley, Department of Economics
Blockchains are distributed, immutable, append only, ledgers designed to make trustless interactions between anonymous agents feasible and safe. The ledgers are maintained by networks of independent nodes who process transactions and come to a consensus view of which are valid and how this affects the ledger state. The integrity of blockchain ledgers therefore depends on the incentives contained in the consensus protocols that are designed to make the validating nodes behave honestly.
In this talk, we argue that existing protocols based on Proof of Work, Proof of Stake, Directed Acyclic Graphs, and so on, offer relatively weak security guarantees. In part, this is because existing protocols have their roots in algorithmic game theory instead of economic mechanism design. We propose a new blockchain validation protocol called Proof of Honesty. We show that when Proof of Honesty is combined with a non-cooperative game called the Catastrophic Dissent Mechanism, the resulting consensus protocol implements truthful blockchain validation in coalition-proof equilibrium. Thus, Blockchains using Proof of Honesty offer users Strategically Provable Security and 100% Byzantine Fault Tolerance.
Bio:John Conley completed his undergraduate work at the University of Chicago and received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in economics in 1990. From 1989 until 2002 he taught in the Economics Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and moved to Vanderbilt University in 2002 as a Professor of Economics. His early work was in noncooperative game theory, axiomatic bargaining theory, general equilibrium, and public economics.
More recently, John has been working on the economics of information and communications technology. He spent the 2016–2017 academic year on sabbatical at Microsoft in Seattle working on projects involving cryptography, privacy and security issues for biometric identification systems, design of telecommunications protocols, and cryptocurrency economics and incentive compatible blockchain validation mechanisms. This lead him to develop GeeqChain which brings these elements together with economic mechanism design in the form of a blockchain validation protocol that is more secure, scalable, and inexpensive than any alternative currently available. More information can be found at www.jpconley.com.
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