Illia Polosukhin: Building Near's Blockchain, Embedding AI
Illia Polosukhin is the co-founder of Near, a blockchain protocol that aims to rival Ethereum in terms of scalability, usability, and developer experience. He is also a speaker at CoinDesk's Consensus festival, taking place in Austin, Texas, from April 26-28.
Polosukhin has been fascinated by machine learning and artificial intelligence since he was a 10-year-old in Ukraine. He thinks it might have started with seeing the movies “The Matrix” and the extremely underrated “A.I.” He pursued his passion for AI through his education and career, working as a software engineer at Google and leading several AI projects there.
But in 2017, he discovered blockchain and was intrigued by its potential to create a more open, decentralized, and fair web. He met his co-founder Alex Skidanov, who was also a former Google engineer, and they decided to launch Near as a platform for building Web3 applications that can leverage AI and other cutting-edge technologies.
Near claims to be faster, cheaper, and more user-friendly than Ethereum, thanks to its sharded proof-of-stake consensus mechanism and its novel account model that abstracts away the complexity of crypto wallets and gas fees. Near also supports multiple programming languages, including Rust, AssemblyScript, and Solidity, making it easier for developers to migrate their code from Ethereum or other platforms.
Near has grown rapidly since its mainnet launch in October 2020. It now boasts over 25 million accounts and 446,000 daily transactions, according to its explorer. It also hosts a vibrant ecosystem of projects, such as Ref Finance, a decentralized exchange; Paras, an NFT marketplace; Flux, a prediction market; and Mintbase, a platform for minting and selling NFTs.
Polosukhin believes that Near can enable a new wave of innovation and creativity on the web, where users can own and control their data, identity, and assets. He also envisions a future where Near can integrate AI into its blockchain, allowing smart contracts to access off-chain data and computation in a trustless way.
In this article, we will explore Polosukhin's journey to blockchain success, his vision for Near's future, and his advice for aspiring Web3 entrepreneurs. 🚀
How did you get interested in blockchain?
I got interested in blockchain around 2017 when I saw the ICO craze and how people were raising money for various projects. I was curious about what kind of problems they were trying to solve and how blockchain could help them.
I started reading more about the technology and the philosophy behind it. I realized that blockchain could enable a more open, transparent, and fair web, where users can have more control over their data, identity, and assets. I also saw that blockchain could create new opportunities for innovation and collaboration across different domains and industries.
I was especially interested in how blockchain could interact with AI and other technologies that I was working on at Google. I thought that there could be a lot of synergies between them, such as using AI to optimize blockchain performance or using blockchain to verify AI outputs.
What are some of the challenges and opportunities for Near?
One of the biggest challenges for Near is to educate and onboard more developers and users to the Web3 space. There is still a lot of confusion and misconception about what blockchain can do and how it can benefit different use cases and industries. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for anyone to learn, build, and use Web3 applications on Near.
Another challenge is to ensure that Near remains secure, stable, and compatible with other protocols and platforms. We are constantly improving our technology and governance to meet the highest standards of quality and performance. We are also collaborating with other projects and communities to foster interoperability and innovation across the Web3 ecosystem.
Some of the opportunities for Near are to tap into the huge potential of Web3 applications in various domains, such as gaming, NFTs, DeFi, social media, identity, data, and more. We believe that Near can enable a new wave of creativity and value creation on the web, where users can own and control their digital assets and experiences.
We also see an opportunity to integrate AI into our blockchain, which is something that we have been working on since the beginning. We think that AI can enhance the capabilities and functionalities of smart contracts, as well as provide new ways of interacting with off-chain data and computation. We are exploring different approaches to achieve this vision, such as using oracles, zero-knowledge proofs, oracles networks like Chainlink or Band Protocol.
What are some of the projects that you are most excited about on Near?
There are so many amazing projects that are building on Near that it's hard to pick just a few. But here are some examples that I find particularly interesting:
- Ref Finance is a decentralized exchange that leverages Near's low fees and high speed to offer a superior trading experience for users and liquidity providers. Ref Finance supports multiple token standards, such as NEP-21 (ERC-20 equivalent) and NEP-141 (Ethereum-compatible standard). It also enables cross-chain swaps through Rainbow Bridge, a trustless bridge between Near and Ethereum.
- Paras is an NFT marketplace that allows anyone to create, discover, and collect digital art cards. Paras uses a unique card format that is optimized for mobile devices and social media sharing. Paras also has a vibrant community of artists and collectors who participate in various events and activities on the platform.
- Flux is a prediction market that allows anyone to create and trade on any event in the world. Flux uses a decentralized oracle system to resolve markets based on real-world data. Flux also has a native governance token that enables users to participate in the platform's decision-making process.
- Mintbase is a platform that allows anyone to mint and sell NFTs on Near. Mintbase supports various types of NFTs, such as art, music, tickets, games, etc. Mintbase also allows users to create their own stores and customize their branding and royalties.
These are just some examples of the amazing projects that are building on Near. You can find more on Awesome Near, a curated list of resources and projects related to Near.
What are some of the goals and plans for Near in 2023?
One of our main goals for 2023 is to continue to grow our ecosystem and community, and to support more projects and developers who want to build on Near. We have a number of initiatives and programs that aim to achieve this goal, such as:
- NEAR Grants, which provide funding for projects that contribute to the development and adoption of Near.
- NEAR Learn, which offers various educational resources and courses for developers and users who want to learn more about Near and Web3.
- NEAR Guilds, which are self-organized groups of people who share a common interest or passion related to Near and Web3.
- NEAR Events, which are online or offline gatherings that bring together the Near community and ecosystem.
Another goal for 2023 is to launch the second phase of sharding, which will enable parallel execution of smart contracts across multiple shards. This will further improve the scalability and performance of Near, and allow more complex and diverse applications to run on our network.
We also plan to launch more features and improvements for our protocol and platform, such as:
- NEAR ETH Bridge, which will enable seamless interoperability between Near and Ethereum, allowing users to transfer tokens and assets across both networks.
- NEAR Accounts, which will simplify the user experience of interacting with Web3 applications on Near, by providing human-readable names, recovery options, and multi-sig capabilities.
- NEAR EVM, which will allow developers to deploy Ethereum-compatible smart contracts on Near, using the same tools and languages they are familiar with.
- NEAR AI, which will enable smart contracts to access off-chain data and computation in a trustless way, using AI oracles, zero-knowledge proofs, oracles networks like Chainlink or Band Protocol.
We are very excited about the future of Near and Web3, and we invite you to join us on this journey. Together, we can create a more open, decentralized, and fair web for everyone. 😊
The Bottom Line
In this article, we have learned about Illia Polosukhin's journey to blockchain success, his vision for Near's future, and his advice for aspiring Web3 entrepreneurs. We have also explored some of the challenges and opportunities for Near, as well as some of the projects and goals for 2023.
Near is a blockchain protocol that aims to rival Ethereum in terms of scalability, usability, and developer experience. Near is built with a focus on integrating AI and other cutting-edge technologies into its blockchain. Near also boasts a vibrant ecosystem of projects and a friendly community of developers, entrepreneurs, and creatives.
If you want to learn more about Near or get involved in its ecosystem, you can visit near.org or follow @nearprotocol on Twitter. You can also attend CoinDesk's Consensus festival, where Illia Polosukhin will be speaking about Near's vision and achievements.
- NEAR Co-Founder Illia Polosukhin's Journey to Blockchain Success – CoinDesk
- Learn about NEAR Protocol
- Network – NEAR Source: Conversation with
(2) Learn about NEAR Protocol. https://near.org/about/ Accessed 3/27/2023.
(3) Network – NEAR Protocol. https://near.org/about/network/ Accessed 3/27/2023.