Redefining KIRA: The journey starts with a single step

The only constant in the broader crypto ecosystem is change - a realm of cyclical fluctuations where finding balance and staying true to one's principles can be challenging. As the sands of time shift, as old narratives and promises fade, axioms become evident and a new era of crypto starts to unfold. We are constantly in pursuit of the principles that endure through these changes. It has been quite some time since KIRA began its voyage through the interchain paradigm of the blockchain universe in 2019 - the last bear market - a time that seems worlds apart from today’s reality. So much has changed yet the fundamental core of our beliefs and goals remain the same. With every move, we have experienced the sensation of entering into a four-dimensional realm where the space-time reality is tenuous; with each step taken, the world shifts before our very eyes. Through the chaos, we have discerned a clear path resonating towards the same ideological vision we ourselves have pushed tirelessly towards since the beginning, though we took many twists and turns on our path to get back to the core vision and truths of our project. More than 6000 commits later, 17 custom-made modules, countless in-house developed tools, hundreds of pages of detailed specs, and tens of thousands of dev hours we can confidently say that we have brought this vision to fruition, and are excited to bring forward a network that both enthralls and aims to inspire in the true spirit of the space - a legacy inherited from the pioneers who ignited the crypto-anarchist movement so many years ago.

The Past

KIRA began its life as a fairly simple idea to create a sharded, distributed system comprised of interconnected application-specific zones. These zones are linked together through a dedicated KIRA relay chain which facilitates access to and the exchange of any digital assets within the emerging Internet of Blockchains paradigm. Instead of taking the easy route, we have strived to make the best efforts to not only deliver on this plan but also to make thoughtful design choices so the project has a chance to exist as a truly decentralized network. Our intention was to eschew creating what we see too often in this space: a colorful facade - an interactive mock - fully controlled by a few rich individuals and instead build a system governed by a diverse, uncapped collective of unique validators. These validators, representing various cultures, perspectives, and socio-economic realities, may not possess the privileges often taken for granted, but they are the real guardians of our network. 

As the project developed it began more and more clear that the narratives driving the ecosystem such as “bleeding edge technology”, “blazing fast TPS”, credible neutrality, the value of optimizing block space and scaling through replication of the same homogeneous systems which inevitably led to the creation of centralized bloatware, operated and manipulated by a select group of people for the profit of even fewer. Indeed, the unyielding truths of the CAP, FLP, and Zamfir theorems, which summarize into a classical "Cheap, Fast, and Good: Pick Two" archetype, weave together the very fabric of reality of this space, forcing many to succumb to these dominant trends. Yet, it must be acknowledged that merely connecting a multitude of centralized systems does not inherently create a decentralized network or true composability, or in this instance, "The Internet of Blockchains". Instead, it forms a chain of dependencies where a single fractured link could trigger a potentially catastrophic cascade of failures, reaching far beyond its own ecosystem. KIRA, however, steadfastly refuses to conform to these prevalent trends if that requires sacrificing its fundamental principles of decentralization and privacy. We refuse to play this multi-layered political game of money and influence sucking value out of the network and from the very people who are running our software.

Many might wonder if this state is merely transient and if shared security will one day “automagically” resolve these issues. The answer, however, leans heavily towards a resounding NO. The shared governance among systems already managed and operated by an elite plutocracy does not meaningfully increase the security of a global network. Systems not designed to be safe will never be safe, just as those that were never designed to foster privacy or upgradeability will never be private or futureproof.

The Present

Earlier this year, we released our development report outlining the progress made since the network’s inception through the end of 2022. As it stands now, KIRA has been engineered to contend within the burgeoning Modular Blockchain landscape. But rather than narrowing its focus and compromising core crypto-anarchist principles that form the ideological backbone of the project, KIRA features a robust, fully developed stack that not only allows the deployment of standard rollups, but truly sets itself apart by enabling trailblazing blockchain-less applications that were once beyond the realm of possibility.

While the backend work on KIRA's Layer 2 and its Cross-Application Messaging System (XAM) is on the verge of completion, there's far more to rollups and decentralization than meets the eye at first glance. In fact, the core component of every blockchain project is not the blockchain application itself but its infrastructure, middleware, and all the parallel processes supporting it that enable users to interact with the network and form the foundation for truly scalable applications to function. 

In crypto, we live in a world of conflicting dual realities, neither of which offers viable solutions. On the one hand, you can live in a world in which the leading wallet and RPC infrastructure operators are owned by a single centralized entity - this is the reality most of us live and operate in using wallets and middleware such as Metamask and Infura. It’s hardly an ideal scenario but it works and many people make the compromise to have functioning tools with which to interact with the network. On the other hand, you can choose to believe in a future where hundreds of lite clients installed via dozens of add-ons running within your browser applications will allow you to have a smooth user experience. This is a great dream and a correct implementation, but the work and coordination necessary to achieve it are massive and its viability is doubtful. This is the promise of networks such as Polkadot, which is still years away from delivering a functioning version of this vision or a smooth user experience. 

KIRA has chosen to escape this matrix of prevailing binary choices and forge a different path altogether. We are actively developing INTERX - a decentralized middleware application designed to accelerate RPC responsiveness, provide a faster and more secure API for network interactions, enable load balancing, and serve as a true Content Availability Layer for the KIRA ecosystem. This platform encompasses our L2, facilitating blockchain-enabled, multi-party, and even blockchain-less applications.

Embarking on our journey through the blockchain universe, we are eager to share some of the pioneering innovations that will be further discussed in upcoming articles and elaborated upon within our soon-to-be-released technical documentation. These topics include:

  • Virtual Finality Gadget (VFG) - A novel approach to state finalization for general-purpose rollups, empowering developers with the ability to define their own settlement methods. This is especially relevant for rollup code that diverges from deterministic logic and makes blockchain-less decentralized applications possible.

  • Pessimistic Rolldowns - A native KIRA rollup type that, thanks to VFG, can execute blockchain-less, deterministic and language-neutral code with significantly faster finality and settlement times compared to zkRollups and Optimistic Rollups.

  • Cross-Application Messaging (XAM) - An out-of-the-box solution facilitating cross-rollup communication, allowing your decentralized application to behave similarly to an Account Abstraction on a major settlement layer such as Ethereum. With XAM, you can create a decentralized validator, governance DAO, as well as mint tokens directly on L1, and seamlessly compose features provided by other applications.

  • Metafinality - A means of establishing consensus on the state of "reality" of external networks and systems to streamline cross-chain and cross-application integrations without having to rely on light clients or any single implementation of the full node.

The Future

KIRA is a manifestation of a forever-evolving passion for true decentralization with the utmost consideration for those who really matter most in a decentralized network: those who actually operate the decentralized systems and carry on their backs the heavy burden of regulations, the threat of adversarial actors, ensuring constant uptime to provide access to computing resources and high data availability.

In any decentralized system, the main forces driving innovation are cost, trust, and time to deployment and NOT block space, TPS, or any of the other “current thing” narratives. Through our blood, sweat, and tears, we have by ourselves experienced the true difficulties and sacrifices developers have to make to create truly decentralized applications that can actually function and operate in the real world. Narratives are fast and easy to manufacture, and truly disruptive technologies with real innovation that go against the grain are slow and often painful to produce, but it is possible. KIRA was designed to pursue the path of what we believe is true innovation and not just popular jargon. 

In today's landscape, the cost of creating an application-specific network or a parachain can reach millions, or even tens of millions, of dollars. However, the advent of rollups heralds a shift in possibilities. Applications boasting security comparable to major L1s and offering identical functionality can now be launched for a mere fraction of the cost - akin to the price of a cheeseburger. Additionally, end users can interact with these applications at little or no cost. This trend is likely to propel decentralized technologies into the hands of every individual on Earth. Yet, amidst this transformation, we must not lose sight of what truly matters: freedom and the core importance of decentralized technology.

Over the course of the last decade, our ecosystem has reached this pivotal moment where the early dreams of on-chain computing teeter on the edge of becoming a reality. Although these dreams might not manifest as we once envisioned - be they as monolithic master-chain L1s or colossal heterogeneous "Internet of independent chains" networks - we cannot disregard the fact that blockchain-specific applications are NGMI in competition with cheeseburger factories aka rollups. Decentralized networks that are reliant on centrally controlled tools and infrastructure merely present facades that fall short of this technology's true potential. A new path is needed to actualize the dream of the unstoppable distributed web of user-owned decentralized applications, storage and compute platforms. KIRA heralds one such vision for this future. We hope you join us on this journey to help make true crypto freedom accessible to all.

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