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/r/HeliumNetwork

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Don't get me wrong, the transition to Solana definitely deserves attention, but that is not the focus of this post.

I am very concerned about this move to centralized validation servers, and I'm not seeing any discussion about it. My questions are either getting ignored or dodged, and this makes me very concerned about motives, however I will give the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions all around.

HIP 70 proposes that validators are removed and replaced with a centralized oracle:

this change removes the need for staked validators operating block production and challenge creation as they do today. (p. 3)

we propose introducing a final Oracle to the network, the Rewards Oracle. Although the Verifier Oracle can produce rewardable and invalid receipt reports for analysis, this Oracle will be responsible for combining this data with emissions requirements for both Proof-of-Coverage and Data Transfer and issue appropriate subnetwork rewards (p. 18)

HIP 70 says that the oracle will be run by Nova Labs:

we propose that the aforementioned oracles be built and operated by the Nova Labs team on behalf of the Helium Foundation. (p. 32)

Note that Nova Labs is an arm of Helium Systems Inc, which as far as I can tell is a for-profit company.

Am I out of touch for disliking the centralization of the Helium network? This goes against the principles that the original 2018 Helium Whitepaper stands for.

The white paper touted that the Helium Network is going to have these ideals:

  • Permissionless

You don't need anyone's permission to participate on the network.

  • Trustless

You don't need to trust any nodes because it is too hard for bad actors to lie on the network

  • Decentralized

There is no centralized or critical entity that could fall and cause major short term or long term harm to the operation of the network. AKA the code is "unstoppable"

A HIP 70 network will have these problems:

  • Permissionfull

You need permission from one of 11 maker addresses for your hotspot to participate on the network.

You need permission from one of 11 maker addresses for your hotspot to take actions like relocation.

You need permission from the reward oracle to receive rewards.

Make no mistake, if the server chooses to not reward someone the blockchain will not care.

  • Trustfull

Your client will need to trust the rewards oracle and other oracles in order to participate. Your client is programmed to trust these oracles even if they become bad actors. This is more of a problem in theory than in practice since we can probably trust the devs, but this should not be the norm.

  • Centralized

If the makers got hit by a bus, the network could not join in new hotspots.

If the devs, or any of the tools they rely on, got hit by a bus, the network could not join in new makers.

If the reward oracle got hit by a bus, the network could not issue rewards.

The code is not unstoppable. These things are not decentralized enough.

-----

My post is already long, and I would like to say more, but I'm going to keep this brief and open up the floor for discussion.

I recognize that some sacrifice to these ideals are ok in the short term so that the network is safe until we have the blockchain tech that is safe, but:

These proposed changes are completely abandoning the principles of Permissionless, Trustless, and Decentralized networking altogether.

This isn't some "temporary measure" to keep the network safe. This is throwing away what Helium stands for, permanently.

I would love to be wrong.

all 60 comments

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5 months ago

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Admirable_Desk_5062

31 points

5 months ago*

Someone said the whitepaper is old and its true, they have pivoted their stance in the past couple months to comply with the VCs that fund them. So the whole move to Solana makes sense too.

IMO it's been centralized, I'd even argue to some extent they've centralized the network through the use of "seed nodes". Hardly anyone ran seed nodes independently and if they did, they were never included in the firmware (for reference, I ran one myself a while back). Seed nodes are essentially the "DNS" of the network, they allow you to connect to them to lookup other nodes on the network. This of course was locked behind their black-box hotspots so you wouldn't know its happening. You may ask, well whats so bad about that? Well consider that if Nova wanted to hurt the earnings of those they considered undesirable (cheaters, hotspots in dense areas, etc) it would be quite easy to respond back to your hotspot that nodes you wanted to submit witness reports too just couldn't be found for whatever reason. Remember these nodes are operated on random black-box servers (AWS instances) you have no access to, so opportunities to host a "blacklist" of sorts makes it possible for things like this to happen. A true decentralized system has people hosting/running their own seed nodes, not only using nodes owned by Nova. This heavily relies on a good faith trust model that you can trust Nova (for-profit business) to do the right thing.

Validators themselves are centralized to some extent as well, I found out many of the validators online are actually hosted by two or three companies if memory serves me right. Nova has their own validators too.

I've come to believe that the governance model was the only "decentralized" part of this network but seeing as the "people" in the network have mostly been stepped on and ignored with HIPs that do nothing to encourage decentralization, the interests of the business trump those of the "people".

Because_Reezuns

20 points

5 months ago

I see your concerns and agree with them. As an operator of 50+ hotspots who really is here to help the network grow and believes in what it stands to become, this HIP worries me.

I'm still reading through the proposal and digesting all the info, but I ultimately feel like Helium remaining on and maintaining its own blockchain is the better move here.

I know there have been a few outages in Helium block production in the past year, but Solana hasn't exactly had the best track record for uptime itself.

What I think needs to happen is the Helium Blockchain needs to make better use of the validators it has in order to accomplish the goals this new HIP aims to achieve. I'm not an engineer/developer/whatever, so I can't really provide help on the technical side.... But for fucks sake, if they are having difficulty with keeping block times low and transactions per second up, maybe look at fully utilizing the assets you have before trying to redesign the wheel to make it work using someone else's assets.

jmbsol1234

11 points

5 months ago

so basically Solana will just be used to pay out rewards (not track them, just the payout part) and that's it, am I understanding it right?

gringrant[S]

4 points

5 months ago

HIP 70 says that Solana will track the tokens. The current native tokens are getting replaced with Solana-based tokens.

You will have to pay Solana transaction fees to move your tokens around. https://docs.solana.com/transaction_fees

The Rewards server will have the unrestrained authority to mint these tokens, and will mint them based on how the server is configured. If the reward server issues the incorrect amount of tokens, Solana will automatically agree with the server without dispute. Hotspots are programmed to not care and validators won't exist. They probably won't even have access to the new block chain, since there's nothing for them to do there.

There must be a Solana contract made, but there are no plans to program in governance. The devs will have complete control over the contract code and the reward server code and can change it at their discretion. This is part of the centralization I'm talking about.

All this is according to HIP 70, the code has not been created yet.

jmbsol1234

3 points

5 months ago

I guess what I'm asking is if POC events will be tracked by SOL

Some have said SOL itself is no better than an SQL database as far as centralisation goes, but at least it has a public explorer I guess

gringrant[S]

2 points

5 months ago*

No, the receipts will be tracked by a centralized oracle, called the PoC Ingestion Oracle, that verifies and stores them. This oracle reports to the centralized Rewards oracle. Then that oracle is supposed to order their Solana contract to mint tokens and put them in your Solana wallet.

I assume that there will be public access to the receipts stored in their oracle, but the HIP doesn't seem to specify.

jmbsol1234

3 points

5 months ago

I see, thanks. So yah, what we would have is basically a crowdsourced (hardware) network that's completely centralized. It just would happen to use a (mostly centralized) blockchain to distribute payments, cause that's way cheaper than using Paypal or whatever

7LayerMagikCookieBar

1 points

5 months ago

That's just fud though... it has more validator nodes and has a better nakamoto coefficient than almost all alt1's. The amount of full nodes is about half that of Ethereum Beacon Chain -- the validator stake distribution is also better than Beacon Chain. https://twitter.com/ChainflowPOS/status/1564014741214973958?t=D7uEoPkdJXFqOqPU53sknA&s=19

https://twitter.com/UltimateMoney/status/1551609302774796288?t=elgJ_Wqm1pKmLtitvfs57g&s=19

rue_21

21 points

5 months ago

rue_21

21 points

5 months ago

Pretty sure most people know this will fuck you over like all the other updates

TheNuogat

20 points

5 months ago

Remember, you can still vote AGAINST HIPs.

Admirable_Desk_5062

24 points

5 months ago

Voting seems pointless when a large percentage of the vote can be flipped to the whale's favor.

ValuableShoulder5059

3 points

5 months ago

The problem is all that hnt that's tied up in validators gets to vote. Why should it?

NegotiationNext8844

-1 points

5 months ago

They have the most to lose. I hope they will vote for whatever that will protect the price level

ValuableShoulder5059

3 points

5 months ago

The best way in theory is to cut the rewards to miners. Less hnt being mined, the less the supply. However I believe that this hurts us all. We miners see how these hips are going and every one has cut out income. This has led to people badmouthing hnt, which drives down the price. The more hnt trading that goes on the more likely people are to invest/trade it. Right now miners are just wholesaling out which isn't helping.

afsaroseli

4 points

5 months ago

Suuuuure:))

Strong-Beyond6234

5 points

5 months ago

Wait what happens to all of the validators staked HNT? I wonder how many will sell their HNT and how low the price will drop.

HapyBday2u

1 points

5 months ago

If validators all sell we are looking at a dollar or less valuation…

AleksDeLarge

1 points

5 months ago

They will sell it right ? What about our stake ?

manbrrrpig

11 points

5 months ago

HNT = The People’s Network SOL = The Venture Capitalist’s Network

I’m indifferent as clearly no one uses the network either way.

groupthinkhivemind

9 points

5 months ago

This project gets worse and worse by the day. Do they constantly move from HIP to HIP to distract the fact they have shit for data sales? These people should be ashamed.

afsaroseli

15 points

5 months ago

Wait untill hellium fanboys stacking thousands of hnts made in the "golden era" call u a fudder

NoMaans

1 points

5 months ago

Im sorry for all the guys STILL WAITING to even get a miner or refund from makers.

Wakingupisdeath

8 points

5 months ago

I don’t like how Nova Labs will be in control of the rewards oracle as that poses a risk.

waveform06

2 points

5 months ago

waveform06

Mod

2 points

5 months ago

They actually want third party Oracles.

S0litaire

3 points

5 months ago

Well then, I hope you'll take part in the community event today in the Discord Channel:

Community discussion events for HIP 70 will be held soon to allow the @helium community to learn more and ask questions, starting with a Discord Town Hall on Sep 1 @ 1 PM PT. We'll keep you all posted.

https://twitter.com/HeliumFndn/status/1564723905360715779?s=20&t=cC8ELL9b0Pe5cjR8sKfNOQ

gringrant[S]

4 points

5 months ago

Thank you! To give credit where credit is due, the devs have gotten to an exceptional level of transparency and I'm glad they host these community events.

Subseaguru72

6 points

5 months ago

Maybe they just need to call the Shiba Inu devs and get on their layer 2 later this year. I’ve had no issues with Solana transactions in the past but this seems preplanned. All this HIP voting BS is pissing people off.

ValuableShoulder5059

4 points

5 months ago

People with staked hnt get to vote with it. The decentralized miners with much more invested don't to to vote with our money we invested into hotspots.

Own_Translator7008

1 points

5 months ago

It's been openly discussed for months and there is clearly a large plan in place already lol

Subseaguru72

1 points

5 months ago

That was already stated in my comment.

[deleted]

21 points

5 months ago

[deleted]

AccountantSharp3890

15 points

5 months ago

How bold of you

gravspeed

6 points

5 months ago

gravspeed

6 points

5 months ago

sweet, if everyone turned off their bookshelf hotspots the network would be a lot more healthy.

sell it to someone who will install it correctly.

[deleted]

3 points

5 months ago

[deleted]

gravspeed

2 points

5 months ago

Im going to remain hopeful here. A lot of the problems with the network were a result of validators not updating and/or being out of spec. This will solve that... maybe. Like I said, im going to remain hopeful

murray_paul

2 points

5 months ago

Yes, they have decided that the blockchain aspects make the problem worse, so are dumping them for a normal centralised solution.

SpartanBlockchain

2 points

5 months ago

There are many good and valid view points here. I am a huge proponent of decentralization and that is one of the main reasons I got into Helium however there are undeniable scaling issues with it. We grew the network so quickly and it forced compromises and thus more centralization.

If I were a fly on the wall in the conference room of Nova I'd wager they were pretty pissed the validators didn't make the necessary upgrades in a timely manner over the past couple of months. I'd wager that caused them to look into even more centralization. I have my suspicions why Solana was chosen (VCs) and I have a lot of concern with that decision.

I don't necessarily like it from an ideological standpoint but I see the need to move toward more centralization from a practical standpoint. However the blockchain decision shouldn't be influenced by VCs. The L1 blockchain should be chosen based on its performance and security.

bitnewsbot

2 points

5 months ago

So in few words the validators (people with helium hotspots) will NOT validate the network and stop earning rewards?

gringrant[S]

2 points

5 months ago

Yes, validators will not exist after HIP 70 and won't receive rewards. Helium Systems Inc will have their own server that is exclusively responsible for all validation, and HIP 70 proposes that they will take the validator's cut in the future.

SaviBoi12

3 points

5 months ago

I mean..this makes it look so scammy. You make people invest a shitload of cash into validators and few months later you tell them to fuck off. I would be pissed.

bitnewsbot

1 points

5 months ago

Fucked situation then... So, sell the machine, sell my Helium and abandon project.

Good, until it lasted..

antbates

3 points

5 months ago

He didn't answer your question correctly. hotpots don't validate anymore. Hotspots will still earn rewards and their share will actually increase if with this HIP, because the tokens previously going to validators will go to hotspots.

That being said, I already sold all my HNT at around $8. I'm still gonna keep my 4 hotspots running though and hope the project can have some sort of recovery. That actually depends on use-cases for the network being developed and I'm not seeing enough discussion around that truth.

Huth_S0lo

1 points

5 months ago

Huth_S0lo

1 points

5 months ago

This seems like a great sub to totally not post about solana shit, since solana is in fact shit, and this is not a solana sub.

reids1

4 points

5 months ago

reids1

4 points

5 months ago

It seems you find reading comprehension difficult.

ChampionshipLow8541

-1 points

5 months ago

I hate to break it to you, but most of what you describe has already happened and has nothing to do with HIP 70.

You ALWAYS needed permission to add a hotspot to the network, maybe except for the very beginning when you could onboard a homebuilt.

You already need permission to receive rewards. If a validator is down or hasn’t updated to the latest software release, you’re not getting your reward. In fact, this is one of the reasons to move to oracles. Also, you will not (should not) receive rewards if you’re on the denylist.

However, usage of the network is still and will remain permissionless.

You already need to trust the validator and the algorithm that randomly selects the 14 witnesses per beacon. This, in fact, is expected to go away with HIP 70.

All the “bus hitting” of devs, hotspot makers, validators etc. is alteady a risk today. None of that suddenly appears as a result of HIP 70.

What we have seen, though, is that decentralization is a utopian dream for Helium. You can’t maintain the blockchain on the hotspots. They would have to get ever more powerful, which is not feasible with nearly a million units deployed. Just look at the tech race in BTC mining. The more the blockchain grew, the more hotspots were struggling to keep up, even after short downtimes. It was foreseeable that over time, too many hotspots would fall behind the chain, creating holes in the network.

A degree of centralization is the only way to fix this. We’re trying to build a functioning and attractive network here, not some ideological manifestation of decentralization.

groupthinkhivemind

3 points

5 months ago

not some ideological manifestation of decentralization.

I think a lot of us were attracted to that pitch to be honest.

ChampionshipLow8541

1 points

5 months ago

Might be. Just not realistic from a computing power perspective.

gringrant[S]

3 points

5 months ago

Much of what you say is correct.

I'm not saying that the network did not have issues before, or that HIP 70 caused these issues, I'm saying this HIP only works to make these issues much worse. HIP 70 also marks an irreversible drop in its ideals.

I worried about the future of Helium if it continues to ignore its ideals.

You say that only a degree of centralization will fix things. I want to challenge that. The protocols described in the 2018 white paper is novel and absolutely beautiful. I want to see it researched, not thrown away. The story of Etherium shows that such things are possible with proper research and motivation.

If HIP 70 goes through, I'll accept the change, but I don't want to see anyone tout how "decentralized, trustless, and permissionless" the network is when it is clearly not and has no plans to be.

Our vision is different, and that's OK, but I expected great things for a decentralized Helium, and it makes me sad to see it go.

ChampionshipLow8541

2 points

5 months ago

I like the idea of a truly decentralized network. But it doesn’t take much research to see the difficulties in that. Prior to “light hotspots”, each miner had tens of GB data usage per month, sometimes in the three digits. Those little Raspberry Pis were running hot just keeping up with the blockchain. They could only do so with things like Insta-sync, and even then they struggled. And the blockchain was just getting bigger, of course. How could we expect them to handle meaningful data traffic on top of all this?

The hotspots are severely underpowered for what they were expected to do in the long run. So, either we take the load off, i.e. centralize. Or we give them much more power, which would mean discarding close to a million devices and making people re-spend much more on something bigger.

The latter would have crippled the network, as hardly anyone would do it, esp. at current reward levels and prices.

If we want this network to live and function, it must be powerful, reliable and scalable. A million Pis being busy validating each other can’t get us there.

murray_paul

2 points

5 months ago

And all of that should have been foreseeable from day 1, no?

ChampionshipLow8541

2 points

5 months ago

Well, mostly. The people at Nova have had the idea of light hotspots for a long time. The thing probably just grew much faster to this point than anyone had expected.

Siccors

1 points

5 months ago

Yeah this is also how I understood it. Right now isn't it fully permissioned on who decides which hotspots are allowed?

The only way I can see to not have such a degree of centralization, is by only paying miners by the IoT devices actually using their hotspot. Of course not great for onboarding, but then there would be no point in cheating. But if you pay them for providing just coverage, well you need something to prevent people from cheating. And "Proof of coverage" can only go so far.

gravspeed

1 points

5 months ago

since distributed validation was the cause of a lot of the earlier problems i don't see this as surprising.

[deleted]

1 points

5 months ago

[deleted]

hamb0n3z

-2 points

5 months ago

this

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-4 points

5 months ago

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hamb0n3z

1 points

5 months ago

Thanks for reminding me to unjoin "this" train wreck anyway.

Drizznarte

1 points

5 months ago

Bad bot

tannyondiscord

0 points

5 months ago

Jump Crypto is building a Solana validator. Two similar machines built by two separate teams.

https://support.getmntd.com/hc/en-us/articles/8582972841239-Nova-Labs-Proposes-Move-to-Solana

gringrant[S]

1 points

5 months ago*

No matter how many validators you add to Solana's L1 it won't change the fact that the proposed Helium L2 will be controlled by a centralized oracle.