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Zhuling Chen

Aelf is a project which could ultimately change the way we view blockchain infrastructure. CCN spoke to Zhuling Chen, MIT graduate and co-founder of Aelf, who sincerely wants to create a developer and consumer friendly blockchain operating system with high reliability.

A privately offered ICO has funded its development thus far in order to remain regulatory neutral, but tokens can be purchased on various exchanges for those looking to either invest early or explore development opportunities.

Its primary difference from NEO or Ethereum is an alternative way of designing a blockchain. Rather than have everything confirmed in the main blockchain as is done with Ethereum, Aelf proposes a multi-chain architecture, wherein private and public sidechains can run their own nodes or rely on Aelf nodes for transaction processing. The reason for this is that Aelf wants to have high availability and incredibly high transaction-per-second capacity.

We want to be a very powerful smart contract platform from a public blockchain point of view. What we fundamentally believe is that if we have thousands of applications in the future, they should not be put on one blockchain, because that just gets messy and it’s just and none of the applications have the guarantee of their performance. That’s why for Aelf, the first thing we did is to establish a multi-chain structure.

Operating on Aelf will give key advantages to tokenized projects which have blockchain needs. Chen said the company is looking into offering “nodes as a service,” so that companies which cannot scale fast enough in terms of infrastructure will be able to simple rent nodes to process their sidechain transactions. Cross-chain communication to other applications is envisioned as well. Perhaps the most exciting prospect of Aelf and blockchains in general for some forms of development, like gaming, is the potential for shared userbase – identities can be portable between sidechains in similar fashion to the Google Play store’s authentication for Android games.

Aelf will be a mix of public and private blockchains. Companies can launch blockchains which they completely control, and take advantage of the standardized technology and use services offered by the Aelf mainnet, such as potentially an identity verification service.

Not Everything Needs a Blockchain

Lately people in the industry have begun to realize that you can’t just blockchain all the things. There are plenty of reasons to use a blockchain, but there are also plenty of reasons not to do so. Chen understands this, and believes there are some key use cases where the blockchain works, and some where it doesn’t. To him, the primary indicator of blockchain necessity is the value of the information being replicated, stored, or moved.

Definitely blockchain is not for everything. In fact, sometimes blockchain could be more expensive to run compared to a centralized system. I tend to think a centralized system is better for information flow. So you can replicate information at any speed you like, regardless if the information is valuable or not. But blockchain, on the other hand, only needs to take the valuable stuff. That’s why we’re looking at virtually high valuable information that should be put on the blockchain, which allows multiple parties to work in a more efficient and trustless environment.

The Future of Blockchain Depends on dApps

The dApps are what will determine the future of the blockchain, in all cases. Perhaps the killer dApp theory is overwrought with rosey depictions of a blockchain future, but certainly the overall necessity of blockchain services relies on the demands of a market which is increasingly mobile and increasingly open to alternative technologies and even currencies.

The recent launch of the FINNEY smart phone, and most importantly the operating system beneath it, will hopefully usher in a resurgent era for the blockchain. A mobile environment which can reliably handle cryptocurrency in a secure manner is perhaps all that’s really missing. While the $999 price point of the FINNEY itself is perhaps a barrier to entry, a wide array of phones is possible through the open nature of the operating system itself. Aelf dApps, Ethereum dApps, NEO dApps – they can all live side by side in such an environment, in time.

Chen believes the success of the Aelf network will come in one or two really amazing dApps, and his company is actively looking for projects which might fit the bill, though there has been no news on what specifically this might look like. The project is still young and in testnet phase, but they are working hard as evidenced by their activity on Github.

Ultimately the user experience should be that they actually don’t feel any differences whether they’re using Aelf or using some other services, just based on the app, right? So we do hope that there will be like a more universal wallet that does like the conversions and storage for them automatically, so they don’t have to use Metamask or equivalent or manage it themselves. I feel that Kyber is sort of doing that already, allowing token-to-token swaps.

Importantly, Aelf currently allow smart contracts to be written in C#, one of the most popular programming languages in the world and a necessary skill for developing in a Microsoft Windows environment, but later intend for them to be available in other languages as well, such as Python. “We share the same view as NEO in regards to mass adoption,” Chen says, referring to the whitepaper’s note that Aelf will support multiple languages.

Aelf’s mainnet is targeting to be ready for March, 2019. CCN will certainly report on that, but potentially there will be news around Aelf’s partnerships in the meantime.

Featured image from Shutterstock. Zhuling Chen photo from Aelf.