The Promise of Zero-Knowledge Proofs: Personae and Pluto
Zero-knowledge proofs are one of the most talked-about technologies in crypto. But Personae’s Lakshman Sankar and Pluto co-founder Tracy Livengood say there’s lots of confusion over what exactly they are—and what ZKPs will mean for web3.
We brought the two founder-developers together for our Variant Founder Fellowship to discuss the most common misconceptions about ZK, how cryptography enables personal expression, and what computing will look like in 10 years.
Catch our key takeaways below the video.
Zero-knowledge proofs present unique challenges for app developers.
Using ZKPs in apps is challenging from a security perspective. “It’s very easy to make mistakes in ZK proofs than can invalidate everything you’re doing,” says Tracy. Lakshman agrees. “This stuff is particularly nefarious relative to smart contract development.” (Hear other challenges with ZKP development at 36:00.)
Privacy doesn’t mean what you think it does.
To Lakshman, it’s clear that though ZKs have privacy benefits, privacy alone isn’t the selling point that will drive mass adoption. “My personal thesis…is that the ‘private part’ of zero-knowledge unlocks more nuanced expressions between people.” He sees the tech enabling multiple, perhaps even ephemeral, online identities. (Listen to Lakshman describe how ZKs can enhance human expression at 45:50.)
More experimentation is needed.
Though ZKs hold tons of promise, it’s difficult to see where developers will take them. That’s because, according to Tracy, “it’s so hard to experiment right now.” For instance, it takes several minutes to generate a snark, even for simple signature verifications, meaning “you have a limited budget of what you can do.” He points to a need for new tooling so people can start experimenting with the apps of the future. (Listen to Tracy outline some low-hanging fruit for developers at 58:00.)
This post is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investment and should not be used in the evaluation of the merits of making any investment decision. It should not be relied upon for accounting, legal or tax advice or investment recommendations. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources, including from portfolio companies of funds managed by Variant. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, Variant has not independently verified such information. Variant makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. This post reflects the current opinions of the authors and is not made on behalf of Variant or its Clients and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Variant, its General Partners, its affiliates, advisors or individuals associated with Variant. The opinions reflected herein are subject to change without being updated.
Variant is an investor in Pluto.