Chainlink launches Mainnet to get data in and out of Ethereum smart contracts
Smart contracts promise to take execution of processes and agreements to the Ethereum global computer. There’s just one problem: Smart contracts can’t talk to the rest of the world. Chainlink wants to solve this, starting today.
Blockchain may be one of the most promising technologies today, but that may just as well be the reason why there’s also a lot of FUD around it. Speculation and crypto-winter aside, however, there’s a number of technology issues to address before blockchains can get real, and data access is prominent among them.
In a nutshell, blockchains are not very efficient as a data storage and retrieval mechanism. This is why people have been experimenting with various approaches to use blockchains as a database, including altering its structure.
Regardless of how successful these turn out to be, however, one thing is certain: Most of the world’s data today does not live on a blockchain. The vast majority of application data live in some database, and some of that data may be accessed via APIs.
How, and why, would the world of databases and APIs talk to the world of blockchain? Enter Chainlink.
You may have heard about smart contracts. You can think of smart contracts as programs that execute exactly as they are set up to by their creators on the Ethereum blockchain. Smart contracts enhance Ethereum with the ability to execute tamper-proof code, in addition to storing tamper-proof data, turning it to a “world computer.”
Together, smart contracts and data form the building blocks for decentralized applications (Dapps) and even whole decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). There is a programming language (Solidity) used to develop smart contracts, as well as a development framework (Truffle) that can be used to build smart contract applications.
Despite the fact that this is still not a 100% mature stack, people are using it to develop Dapps and DAOs. Smart contracts can interact with each other, and they can also store and retrieve data on the blockchain. But what happens when they need to interact with the outside world, and retrieve (or store) data from/to databases or APIs?
The Smart Contract Connectivity Problem, as Chainlink defined it, is the inability of a smart contract to interact with any external data feed or other resource that is run outside the node network in which the smart contract itself is executed.
This lack of external connectivity is inherent to all smart contract networks, due to the method by which consensus is reached around blockchain transactions, and will therefore be an ongoing problem for all smart contract networks.
Chainlink, co-founded by CEO Sergey Nazarov and CTO Steve Ellis, aims to solve this problem by developing a so-called oracle, officially launching today. ZDNet connected with the Chainlink team to discuss what this is all about.