Enabling secure multiparty computation: a life journey

Enabling secure multiparty computation: a life journey

by Jesper Buus Nielsen, Chief Cryptographic System Designer

This brief post explains why I believe secure multiparty computation (MPC) is a key technology for creating a better version of the internet and why we founded Partisia Blockchain to unlock its potential.

First, a bit about myself: I am a professor of computer science at Aarhus University in Denmark. For me, MPC and blockchain represent a professional life journey. My PhD thesis in 2003 focused on cryptographic consensus protocols, threshold signature schemes and MPC. Twenty-one years later, these technologies are starting to flourish. Today, they are often known as blockchains, distributed wallets and, well, MPC, and I am still researching them.

If you are reading this post, you probably already know what MPC is. If not, MPC allows multiple servers–each holding private data–to perform computations on the joint dataset without exposing any private data and without revealing anything beyond the computed output. It may sound like magic, but it is just cryptography. For details, see our book here.

I believe MPC has the potential to solve many of the current problems with the internet. The internet was initially envisioned as a space for sharing public information. Instead, it has become a space where we often pour private information into informational black holes, which monetize it in opaque ways, from programmed outrage to influencing voting behavior. You might argue that people should simply stop trading their privacy for trivial rewards. However, when faced with a choice between functionality and privacy, people tend to choose functionality. It is unrealistic to expect this to change, as humans are short-sighted utility optimizers. Fortunately, there is no need to choose between functionality and privacy. MPC demonstrates that you can eat your cake and have it too.

We just need to integrate MPC into everything. Imagine a dream world where using MPC is easy and free. If you wanted to compute on a dataset from several sources, you would simply specify the desired computation in your favorite programming language, indicate where the data is located, compile the code, deploy it, run it. And voilà, the desired result would magically appear where it should, with no leaks. And this process would be as efficient as computing the result on a single computer. Moreover, it would be completely transparent, allowing you to know and control exactly how and when your data was used. Had the internet looked like this from the beginning the way we store and process private data would be completely different, and thousands of new applications would be possible. This does not have to remain a dream world. We can build it, and we should build it!

Two decades ago, I thought researching better MPC protocols would be enough for the world to adopt them. However, implementing and deploying MPC turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated. In 2008, I co-founded Partisia ApS to put MPC into practice. This experience taught me a lot about the real-world challenges of using MPC. For each new use case, we often had to design a new optimized protocol, implement it, and find servers to run it. The hardest part was finding mutually trusted, organizationally separate parties to run the servers and teaching them how to use MPC. While there is still a place for such deployments, it became clear that this approach would not scale if we wanted MPC in everything. If each use case had to bear the cost of developing and implementing a protocol, and if we had to constantly find relevant organizations willing to host the servers, it would not be widely adopted. The solution we came up with was Partisia Blockchain.

Let us look back three decades at how the internet was organized when I was a kid to illustrate why Partisia Blockchain is the way to go. Technologies like FTP, Gopher, Usenet, and Archie technically allowed everything the World Wide Web does today, but there was no dot-com boom. It took Tim Berners-Lee’s 1989 paper, “Information Management: A Proposal”. He rather modestly wanted to improve the way information was shared and managed among researchers at CERN and other institutions. He did not know he had just invented Amazon, eBay, Google, Yahoo, PayPal, Priceline… And of course he had not. He had invented an incredibly potential enabling technology. There might have been a short window where one boomer got the chance to ask “but what is WWW really useful for?” In fact, I know that guy. He was one of my professors the first year at my university. But it quickly turned out that the answer was “Everything!” 

In my opinion, one of the most important developments happened in 1995, where the world saw the first version of the open source Apache web server. Now everyone could contribute to developing the WWW and everyone could almost by a single click install a web server and become an “Internet company”. After that no one looked back. There was no reason to ask what WWW was useful for. Everyone started to build what we have today, bottom up. By the early 2000s, Apache had become the dominant web server, powering over 70% of all websites. Apache was very much the enabler and the workhorse of the dot-com boom in the 1990s. Apache’s influence persists today, where 30% of all web servers still run Apache. 

So, that was the question: How do we build the “Apache of MPC”? How do we make it possible for everyone to integrate MPC with a “single click”? Instead of having a few MPC companies pursue use cases, we needed to make the technology seamlessly available to everyone to kickstart the building of the MPC internet bottom up. The MPC equivalents of Amazon, eBay, Google, Yahoo, PayPal and Priceline would follow. You will build those! Of course, we needed programming languages and compilers to facilitate this. And we needed tools for integrating MPC with the existing internet technology. That is a lot of work, but it is not fundamentally different from building something like Apache. It is software. However, a major obstacle we were left contemplating was the problem of finding servers to run the protocols. This was an organizational problem, not a software problem. The solution we went for was a blockchain organizing staked and vetted organizations and individuals willing to run the MPCs. Servers hosted by blockchain participants can programmatically be scrambled when needed for an MPC: MPC-as-a-service. You can read more about the Partisia Blockchain architecture here [TBA]. Crucially this converted an organizational problem into a software one. And Partisia Blockchain was born. 

There is still a lot of work to be done towards the ultimate dream of making MPC as efficient as computing on a single machine. This is one of the problems I focus on as a university researcher. However, in Partisia Blockchain we are now finally implementing a full-stack, single-click solution to integrate MPC into everything. You should join us in building the workhorse of the MPC internet and start integrating MPC into everything. The rest, I hope, will soon be internet history.

For me, blockchain and MPC represent an ongoing professional life journey. In the future I have two main means of transportation for the journey. From my role as a university researcher, I aim to continually develop better MPC protocols. Through Partisia Blockchain, I hope to help create “the Apache of MPC”. It has been a 21-year journey so far. We came a long way, but we also have a long road in front of us. Let us see where we are in 21 years from now. By 2045, I hope that if anyone asks, “But what is MPC really useful for?” the answer will be a bemused, “Everything!!!”, and that Partisia Blockchain is organizing 30% of the world’s MPC servers.

Until then, let’s get to work!

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April 2024 update

April 2024 update

In April 2024, Partisia Blockchain achieved significant milestones, including forging partnerships with TPC Ventures and announcing our integration of the $MPC token on StakingRewards.com. We were also proud to announce our membership with the Swiss Blockchain Federation and our Ledger integration with the Partisia Blockchain app. Our presence at various events across the globe this month, such as the TEAMZ Web3 Summit and Token2049, showcased our commitment to innovation and collaboration. Let’s explore our ecosystem updates and key features in the press.

Partisia Blockchain teams up with TPC Ventures, StakingRewards.com, Moonrig

This month we announced our partnership with TPC Ventures, a player in the Web3 space, offering venture capital, development, and consulting services. Teaming up with Sensei Node, TPC Ventures brings a wealth of expertise to the table, providing professional validation and adoption services to bolster our network.

StakingRewards.com, a platform dedicated to collecting, ranking, and simplifying the staking process for various protocols, is now integrating the $MPC token. This integration aims to streamline the staking process and spotlight our unique rewarding structure. With over 200,000 monthly visitors, their platform offers a prime opportunity to reach a broader audience and showcase our rewarding model.

Additionally, Moonrig, a platform aspiring to become the leading rating agency in the digital currency industry, is striving to recruit credible research analysts to conduct deeper financial analysis of digital currencies. This endeavor promises to offer better insights to retail investors and contributes significantly to legitimizing the industry. This collaboration marks another significant step towards widespread adoption and recognition.

Partisia Blockchain now integrates with Ledger devices

Now, you can seamlessly access the Partisia Blockchain app on Ledger devices, thanks to the successful completion of the Kudelski audit in March 2024. With Partisia Blockchain’s inclusion in the Ledger App catalog and support on Ledger hardware devices, MPC token holders can securely store, send, and stake their tokens. This collaboration brings together the cutting-edge security of Ledger, a leading hardware wallet provider, with the functionality of Partisia Blockchain, offering users unparalleled peace of mind and convenience. Get started with our easy-to-follow instructions here.

Partisia Blockchain joins the Swiss Blockchain Federation

It is with great pride that we share our membership with the Swiss Blockchain Federation. This prestigious membership marks a significant step for Partisia Blockchain as we join forces with other industry leaders to solidify Switzerland’s position as a global blockchain hub. Together, we are committed to fostering a robust legal framework and innovation in the blockchain space.

From Tokyo to Tallinn and from Dubai to Ibiza: a busy event month

The Partisia Blockchain team had an eventful week in Dubai, navigating through challenging weather conditions. At Token2049’s Restaking and Infra Day, Bruce Ahn, Head of Adoption, delivered two presentations. He introduced the BYOC blockchain and the programmable custody solution (MOCCA), emphasizing the significance of programmability and interoperability for Web3’s success. Bruce highlighted how these innovations are pivotal in shaping the future landscape of blockchain technology. At the TEAMZ Web3 Summit in Tokyo, our community engaged with the Partisia Blockchain team. Kurt Nielsen, Partisia Blockchain’s President, took center stage, shedding light on Real World Assets (RWA), blockchain adoption, and more in his keynote. Tokyo witnessed insightful discussions throughout the event, including an RWA panel hosted by EMURGO and engaging dialogues spanning various topics. In Estonia, Shirly Valge, Chief of Growth at Partisia Blockchain, recently took the stage at the Banana Conf (formerly NFT Tallinn) to delve deep into key blockchain topics. She led a panel discussion on the transformative power of blockchain in supply chain connectivity, exploring themes such as real-world asset tokenization, and shared invaluable insights on data privacy and artificial intelligence. Ibiza Tech Forum 2024 where the future of technology unfolds against the backdrop of the vibrant Balearic island, was also an event to remember in April 2024. Amidst the bustling atmosphere, global leaders and tech enthusiasts converged, including the Partisia Blockchain team. Shirly Valge took the stage to deliver a keynote on AI and the critical role of Privacy Enhancing Technology, while Maria Cocu, our Community Growth and Engagement Associate, immersed herself in discussions revolving around community expansion and engagement enhancement strategies. Balearic Islands served as the perfect setting for meaningful connections and cutting-edge insights into the tech landscape. Stay tuned for next month as Shirly Valge will be delivering a keynote and workshop at Block Split in Dalmatia during 27–30 May 2024.

Partisia Blockchain featured in key press

Last April witnessed an uptick in publicity with Partisia Blockchain being mentioned in more than a thousand media outlets. A few highlights include Japanese Asahi TV’s news segment focusing on Web3’s growing importance in Japan and featuring our team members at the TEAMZ Web3 Summit in Tokyo. Our co-founder Brian Gallagher delved into the DeFi trends with Mario Nawfal on X Spaces broadcast. Elsewhere Cointelegraph ran a feature on Partisia Blockchain’s differentiators and solutions it offers and it published a piece on our Grants Program. In another television news segment, Denmark’s TV2 interviewed one of our co-founders Peter Frandsen. The Danish television reportage highlights the importance of data security, the Scandinavian country’s efforts in safeguarding against cyberthreats amid ongoing geopolitical volatility and the need for the data security infrastructure. Also in Denmark, the Aarhus University ran a video featurette about multiparty computation with commentary from Ivan Damgård and Peter Frandsen.

Ecosystem update: Enhancing interoperability with wBTC integration

In April, we announced that wBTC will be added as a supported BYOC token on our platform. This integration is a significant step forward in enhancing interoperability within the Partisia Blockchain ecosystem. With wBTC support, users will enjoy seamless gas payments and expanded functionality, opening up new possibilities for decentralized finance and asset management.

zkCross Network Phase 1 live and AirDrop

Phase 1 of the zkCross Network is now live! zkCross, a zero-knowledge-based DEX, has been launched on Partisia Blockchain, paving the way for a seamless cross-chain collateralized DeFi protocol. This initial phase of the launch facilitates asset swapping and bridging into Partisia Blockchain’s BYOC network, with Phase 2 scheduled for early June. Phase 2 will see the rollout of a full-fledged native DEX on our network. For more details on this exciting announcement, read further here. Our AirDrop program is steadily progressing, with additional assets being bridged into the network. Throughout April, we witnessed a steady growth in Total Value Locked (TVL), accompanied by an increase in staked $MPC, bridged assets, and wallet counts. As we look ahead, we anticipate further growth catalyzed by the launch of zkCross and other dApps aimed at fostering increased activity within the chain.

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Partisia Blockchain’s 100 million $MPC grants: Paving the way for token adoption at scale

Partisia Blockchain’s 100 million $MPC grants: Paving the way for token adoption at scale

ZUG, 26 MARCH 2024. The Partisia Blockchain Foundation, a pioneer in privacy-centric and interoperable blockchain solutions, is proud to announce the launch of its Grants Program. Aimed at fueling innovation within the blockchain ecosystem, this program is set to provide crucial financial support to projects that leverage the unique features of the Partisia Blockchain to address pressing challenges in privacy, interoperability, and scalability.

The Grants Program is open to entrepreneurs, developers, and innovators worldwide with projects that not only solve significant problems but also demonstrate a clear path to commercial viability and scalability. Successful applicants will receive funding in $MPC tokens, along with access to a vast network of industry experts and resources to bring their vision to reality.

Co-founder of the Partisia Blockchain, Brian Gallagher, remarked, “We are at a pivotal moment in the evolution of blockchain technology. The Partisia Blockchain Grants Program represents our commitment to supporting projects that share our vision of a more private, interoperable, and scalable blockchain ecosystem. We believe in empowering developers and entrepreneurs to build solutions that can truly make a difference in the world.”

Applications for the Grants Program are now open, with the foundation seeking proposals that exhibit a strong understanding of the Partisia Blockchain’s capabilities, a detailed financial and growth model, and a clear benefit to the broader blockchain community.

The Grants program is divided into two types:

Full grants: up to 250,000 $MPC tokens

For: Start-ups looking to build or enhance a business and major integrations

Application steps: https://partisia.link/grants

Fast Track grants: up to 20,000 $MPC tokens

For: Teams looking to build smaller projects, proof of concepts, community tools or for small integration.

Application form: https://partisia.link/fast-track-grants-form

Applications for the Grants Program are now open, with the Foundation seeking proposals that exhibit a strong understanding of the Partisia Blockchain’s capabilities, a detailed financial and growth model, and a clear benefit to the broader blockchain community.

About Partisia Blockchain: The Partisia Blockchain is designed from the ground up to address the key challenges of privacy, interoperability, and scalability in the blockchain space. By combining cutting-edge cryptographic solutions with a novel consensus mechanism, Partisia Blockchain aims to set new standards in secure and efficient blockchain operations. Unlock your project’s potential with Partisia Blockchain’s 100 million $MPC Grants Program for ecosystem growth and mass token adoption.

Apply now: https://partisiablockchain.com/develop/grants-program/

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