Builders of the Decentralized Web: Episode #2 | Ethics, Education & Evolving Topologies

Featuring Kieran Prasch, Senior Engineer and VP Drone Piloting @ NuCypher

Welcome back to Builders of the Decentralized Web (BotDW).

BotDW is a series of interviews with the thinkers and innovators developing the foundational infrastructure of the next internet— from data storage to data portability, information security to information processing, tangible hardware to abstract protocol.

In Episode #2, we had the pleasure of sitting down in Seattle with Kieran Prasch, a former programming teacher and now integral NuCypher team-member. A shorter outing this time, we nonetheless had time to dig into Kieran’s educational background, his responsibilities in building JavaScript implementations of NuCypher schemes, and his views on the future of the web’s topological structure. I found Kieran’s vision of distributed ledger technology and existing internet topologies ‘locking’ into a mutual dependence particularly thought-provoking.

Terminology Guide 
A quick reference for some of the terms that cropped up during the conversation.

  • pyUmbral”/ “Umbral”. NuCypher’s most recent release, pyUmbral is an open source Python implementation of Umbral — a proxy re-encryption scheme that employs a threshold split-key mechanism for extra security and trustlessness. This works by assigning a given re-encryption process to N proxies, requiring at least M of those proxies to participate (M < N), and finally combining their independent re-encryptions to decrypt the original shared message. For more information on pyUmbral, please check out the GitHub library.
  • Bus Topology”. Also known as a ‘bus network’, this is a simple arrangement of nodes in a network, where each node is connected along a single line or cable. One way to imagine this set-up is like an aisle on an airplane — signals travel down the aisle to find target nodes sitting on either side. Many of the major network connections comprising today’s internet utilize this basic structure.