Just over 3 years ago, myself and co-host Fredrik Harrysson launched the Zero Knowledge Podcast. We didn’t realise this at the time, but this little podcast project would bring us in contact with some of the top researchers and practitioners in the field of zero knowledge cryptography. It would also help us better understand and map all the innovation going on around blockchain, decentralised technology and this novel cryptography that is our namesake — all of which have the potential to change the world.
As you may have heard in this past week’s episode, Fredrik has shared that he will be leaving the Zero Knowledge Podcast as a regular co-host. It has been a real pleasure working with Fredrik and, I think it’s fair to say, we are both proud of the 3 years of content we created as a team.
While it is sad to see him go, I do also see this as an opportunity for the Zero Knowledge Podcast to evolve and change to reflect a new focus and direction. As such, I will be expanding the roster of co-hosts by inviting some familiar faces (Hi Tarun!), as well as expanding on the topics covered by the show. The main focus will still be on the latest in zero knowledge research and applications, the open web, and decentralised systems. But I am also looking to explore future technologies and paradigms that promise to change the way we interact — and transact — with one another online.
I am also using this new year to develop existing channels and find some new ways to connect with the community which has grown around the podcast. So here are a few things to look for:
I am very excited to announce the launch of the ZKPodcast blog with a focus on the new work coming out in zero knowledge proof cryptography research as well as the emergence of real world applications, both inside and outside the blockchain world! We will be featuring some great guest writers who will be doing deep dives into the topics covered on the show, and will be using this space to share insights, updates and resources with the community.
When I say we, I am referring to myself and Alex Pruden (previously at a16z and now at Aleo) who will be working on the curation, writing, and management side of this blog — Thank you Alex for joining this project, I am excited to see it grow!
You may not have noticed, but over the last few months we have been releasing written transcripts alongside all new episodes. We are also adding transcripts to some of the older episodes as well. Hopefully these can serve as helpful resources, especially for the very technical episodes! Be sure to look for them in the side bar on the episode pages on the Zeroknowledge.fm site.
The longstanding ZKPodcast Telegram group now has 745 peeps to engage with about the show and general privacy/zkp topics. This is a great way to engage with other podcast listeners, as well as entrepreneurs, researchers, and engineers working on this technology. You can find the link to join here
Zero Knowledge Summit — zkSummit
This past year, both Zero Knowledge Summit 5 & 6 were transformed (like all conferences) into online events. Still, they managed to bring the community together for presentations around the best new research applications and ideas in the zero knowledge space and kept some of the same spirit that the online events had.https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FdJzIKQdg924%3Flist%3DPLj80z0cJm8QFnY6VLVa84nr-21DNvjWH7&display_name=YouTube&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DdJzIKQdg924&image=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FdJzIKQdg924%2Fhqdefault.jpg&key=a19fcc184b9711e1b4764040d3dc5c07&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=youtube
That said, for this coming year’s edition, I have decided to push it back to later in the year — thinking Summer or Fall 2021 — when hopefully we would be able to meet in person or at least do a partially live event. I think it will give us time to learn about emerging conference formats and tools to try out, and will be a richer experience overall. In the meantime though, we will be doing more regular smaller events online in the form of the zkSessions (see the next point!).
This is a new format that I am excited to launch — a monthly zk-focused meetup, a bit like a mini zkSummit. In this, I will be inviting previous podcast guests, researchers, and friends to have discussions and debates about some of the topics that are relevant to the zk community. These events will be shorter in length, open to the general public and focus in on a specific topic that we have either covered in the podcast or that has come up in the community. The first zkSessions event is planned for the coming month (date tbd) and will be exploring the potential and challenges of combining DeFi with Privacy. Keep an eye out here or on Twitter to learn more about this.
Every few weeks, we bring together leading researchers in the field of zero-knowledge cryptography for a focused discussion. These tend to be more technical than the podcast and are released only as videos on Youtube. You can see the previous study club session on our Youtube ChannelzkSudyClub playlist. Feel free to reach out to me if you have a research paper or technical presentation you would like to present in this format (or know someone who might be suitable).
zkMesh is a monthly newsletter that myself and Hashcloak’s Mikerah put together where we share a list of the latest in decentralised privacy-preserving technologies, privacy protocol development, and zero knowledge systems research. You can find the latest edition here — be sure to subscribe!
And last but not least, a few words on what can you expect from the The Zero Knowledge Podcast in 2021:
Having produced and released 161 consecutive episodes over the last 3+ years, I decided to take off the last week and spend some time thinking about where I want to take the show next.
The show has always been driven by curiosity. And over the years, our curiosity has ranged from very blockchain-focused topics & tech to math, governance, and novel use cases. You can expect these topics to remain as central themes of many of the shows, but I do see the show expanding into other areas as well. This will be driven in part by the guest co-hosts I invite to host with me, audience suggestions, and my own interest in the wider technology and online worlds.
A few examples of the types of topics I will be exploring:
- Zero Knowledge research and applications: Continuing to track and map the cryptographic breakthroughs in zk and related systems and the new technologies that these enable. Hope to highlight more implementations and releases of zk-based projects into the wild
- Games and zk: Exploring what is actually made possible in games with zk and decentralised tech.
- Decentralisation beyond blockchain: learning about other tools and frameworks that are coming online that could build towards a more decentralised online architecture and the implications of these.
- DeFi series: Along with regularly-slated guest co-host Tarun Chitra, we will be exploring emerging DeFi projects and specifically where privacy can and should exist in these systems. Expect about 1/month in 2021.
- Privacy, regulation and society: this is a topic that we have covered in the past, but coming into 2021, it seems more urgent than ever to have these conversations
- New technological paradigms: Admittedly a vague sounding topic, but intentionally so. I would like to spend some time this year exploring new technologies that may be used in tandem with the tech we have covered thus far on the show, but that doesn’t fit perfectly into the other topics listed.
- And more: In this new year, I would like to experiment further with the podcast format. Along the lines of my experiment with the SushiSwap cross-over episode with the Uncommon Core podcast (Episode 148) or the trusted setup analysis (Episode 133). Potentially I would like to try out narrative storytelling, or maybe prepare a full report about some topic. No clear plans for this at present, but let’s see what opportunities the year will bring
Of course, this list is not complete and I would love to hear from you about topics and themes you would like me to dive into on the show!
So there you have it — the plans for the ZKPodcast and the associated projects for the coming year!
We are working on unifying all of these channels under a single spot — be it a website, portal or something along those lines, but we are still in the brainstorming phase. If you have ideas or just want to get involved in this or any of the aforementioned projects in a deeper way, please do reach out to me at hello[at]zeroknowledge.fm.
Looking forward to catching up, (hopefully eventually) meeting up and learning with all of you in the coming year!