MPC Slowness and Enigma Going Forward

From a theoretical and layman’s terms perspective (I do not have a background in cryptography or coding), I was hoping I could receive answers to a few questions regarding Guy’s recent comments on MPC and the future path of Enigma. I was told this is the best place to ask.

  1. The whitepaper makes a compelling case for MPC providing privacy and scalability to blockchains. Theoretically, the act of sharding data and sending discrete pieces to nodes, within the construct of a protocol that can create computation results from the aggregation of those nodes, makes sense as a way to increase speed, scalability and privacy. Guy recently said that TEE can produce results in 40 seconds that MPC takes 40 hours to perform. This order of magnitude discrepancy leads me to think MPC has a flaw that was previously unknown. Is that the case and, if so, can you please elaborate.

  2. If, for technical reasons, TEE is the best solution, what is Enigma’s proprietary edge? How are you different than iExec or Oasis Labs?

  3. Is the reason for the pivot to focusing on adoption near term because the answer to the second question is a lack of edge? I fully support the team and believe in your expertise in the field, but I find it disconcerting when the original tech has been diminished and adoption prioritized. Is this a push for first-mover advantage because of a lack of differentiation?

I apologize in advance if these questions come off as aggressive or accusatory; especially given my lack of technical background. However, as an investor from the beginning and someone who truly is passionate about a decentralized future, I would hope you understand my concerns.

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  1. I believe the confusion stems from mixing a few of the concepts. The whitepaper tackles scalability from a ‘sharded, second-layer perspective, where not all nodes run all computations’. This is independent of MPC, and we are making use of this scheme for our network regardless.

That said, sharding was also crucial in making MPC practical, which is what the whitepaper proposes. This doesn’t mean that MPC is going to scale blockchains. It was always well understood that there’s a performance cost for privacy. Even TEEs have some cost (although it’s marginal).

There’s no flaw that was unknown, but if anything, what we learned was that most aren’t willing to pay for the performance overhead of MPC compared to TEEs (with the exception of some specific use cases). So we’re prioritizing TEEs.

  1. iExec aren’t focusing on privacy-preserving smart contracts (i.e., ‘secret contracts’). Oasis doesn’t have a public network and none are interoperable with Ethereum.

  2. I’d say adoption has always been key. While I love research, I moved to work on Enigma outside of academia because getting people to use the solutions you’re building is the most important mission to pursue.

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Completely understood. Thanks for taking the time to respond - very much appreciated.