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Beyond the trilemma: Acurast’s fourth dimension in blockchain design



The blockchain trilemma, consisting of scalability, security, and decentralization, forms the basic principles underlying most blockchain designs.

Yet, Acurast‘s team recognizes the presence of a fourth dimension that demands attention to enhance the efficiency of blockchain utilization.

Dr. Christian Killer, Head of Research at Acurast Association discussed the concept of ‘Zero Trust Universal Interoperability’ during his presentation at the Sub0 2023 event hosted by Polkadot

The Acurast Association is a decentralized platform that aims to bring off-chain data to the blockchain and provide data consumers with the ability to make informed decisions with ease. 

The association has reimagined the concept of bringing off-chain data to the blockchain and has built a path to real trustless apps by leveraging a completely decentralized off-chain infrastructure.

In describing the need for more than the traditional trilemma of decentralization, security, and scalability in blockchain design, Dr. Christian argued that effective computation and confidentiality on the execution layer are equally essential, especially when dealing with private data. 

“If everything is public on a blockchain, as we all know, this might be good and useful for some use cases, but essentially, working on private data can be enabled not only with their knowledge proofs but also through secure hardware.”

He added that a problem that Acurast aims to solve is the centralization of infrastructure, which is seen today where cloud providers are the backbone of today’s applications, which is both a censorship risk and a centralization issue. In response, Acurast has created a Layer 1 solution, offering an alternative that is fully decentralized.

Confidential computing

Furthermore, he said that a crucial component of the architecture of Acurast’s approach to confidential computing is the Confidential Execution Layer, which ensures data remains secure throughout computation. 

Unlike some other solutions that rely on virtualized trust execution environments, Acurast’s approach is based on external security chips, making it highly resistant to breaches.

To tackle the challenge of trusted auxiliary systems, often referred to as the Oracle problem in blockchain, Acurast’s strategy focuses on minimizing trust assumptions across every layer of the system. 

This is in line with its “Zero Trust” philosophy, where trust is continuously verified rather than assumed.

Dr. Killer highlighted a key aspect of Acurast’s approach, known as “Universal Interoperability.” It goes beyond connecting different Web3 chains and extends to bridging the gap between Web3 and Web2, offering the potential for creating decentralized applications that interact seamlessly with traditional web applications. 

He underscored the importance of this universal interoperability, noting its applicability beyond blockchain to areas like IoT and supply chain tracking.

Separation of blockchain layers

The presentation delved into Acurast’s architecture, emphasizing the separation of the consensus, settlement, and execution layers. The permissionless consensus layer orchestrates computational resources, matching consumers with processors. 

A notable feature is the option for developers to deploy on Acurast’s secure hardware runtime, offering a decentralized network of secure hardware co-processors.

Dr. Killer introduced the concept of processors, which enable developers to create consortia or sub-consortia easily. This flexibility allows for various permissions and decentralized use cases. 

The presentation concluded with a look at the future of Acurast, including the expansion of use cases beyond price feeds to confidential computing, zero-knowledge execution services, privacy mixing, and more. 

Dr. Killer expressed his belief in mobile devices as the future of decentralized computation, envisioning a wide range of potential hardware options to participate in the network.

Read also; Bifrost Finance and Axiom collaborate to redefine liquid staking with SLPX Protocol

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