Calling trailblazers to Midnight
Midnight, the new data protection blockchain from Input Output Global, launches in a sandbox devnet for an initial group of pioneer developers
5 October 2023 7 mins read
Midnight is a data-protection blockchain that simplifies the creation of secure and compliant smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps) on the blockchain.
First announced during IO ScotFest at Edinburgh in 2022, Midnight is the culmination of over four years of fundamental research and applied development. It is now ready for release to an initial group as an early development environment – the Midnight devnet.
Midnight uses a language designed to integrate with TypeScript, familiar to thousands of developers, and has a plug-in for Microsoft Visual Studio Code.
It uses a novel data-protection-first programming model that will bring zero-knowledge (ZK) technology within reach for a wider audience of DApp developers.
About the devnet
The devnet operates as a sandboxed space where developers can experiment, identify and fix issues, and fine-tune their applications without impacting real users or assets.
The Midnight devnet is primarily for DApp developers – whether a developer organization or a single entrepreneur. Developers will be able to experiment with the network, build applications involving data protection, shielded swaps, and smart contracts, provide feedback, and suggest improvements. This collaborative environment promotes innovation and helps identify and address potential issues and improvements early on. The team also invites researchers and enthusiasts to explore and contribute to the ecosystem.
Midnight is in a development phase and some features are still being explored. As a result, the devnet offers an opportunity for invited guests to influence Midnight’s product roadmap and share their desires and frustrations when working with sensitive data today.
Some uses of Midnight
Decentralized applications are transforming the way people interact and transact today. Data-protecting smart contracts can use zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to enhance existing ways of working and unlock new applications. Here are a few of the possibilities.
Verification processes such as know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) can be a burden for organizations in industries like financial services, accounting, real estate and legal services. These organizations must spend a significant amount on technology and resources to comply with the law.
Using Midnight as a shared data protection platform, it’s possible to reimagine the way KYC and AML could be delivered. An individual or company could undergo full identity verification with a single entity or external verification service by traditional means. For all later identity verifications, the verifying organization can request particular assertions about the individual. With ZKPs, there is no need to disclose any information to the client of the service apart from the truth (or otherwise) of the assertion. For these clients, this might mean they could satisfy the requirements of AML and KYC regulations without needing to capture, hold, and safeguard personally identifying information under regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union.
Controlled access to tokenized digital assets
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are increasingly being used to represent assets, credentials, receipts, or even loyalty attributes that can be tracked on a public ledger for any party to view. This has led to innovations in multi-party loyalty programs, cookieless e-commerce, and the ability for customers to bring their own credentials to help organizations provide targeted services or products.
An NFT recorded on a public permissionless blockchain can be accessed by everybody, and importantly, metadata from transactions or wallet usage can be correlated to identify individuals and compromise their privacy.
Midnight's data protection can enable tokenized assets to remain private. At the same time, necessary information can be revealed to conduct related activities. With zero knowledge, customers can share their credentials, points, or membership details with third parties without passing any sensitive information. ZK helps ensure that customer identity remains secure and free from the risk of compromise through on-chain history analysis.
Enhancing AI and LLM
The influence of artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) in recent times is undeniable. Yet, a significant portion of their capabilities relies on training data, which is sourced from publicly available artifacts:
- Firstly, some AIs might use proprietary or licensed content with no means, currently, to fairly attribute usage or royalties.
- Secondly, as more AI-generated content is produced online, there will be more concern about the authenticity of the work and whether it is based on genuine human or credentialed contributors.
- And finally, LLMs could be enhanced by providing access to private or proprietary datasets that are particularly rich, but that the owners are unwilling or legally unable to share with third parties.
To address these challenges, Midnight can help establish secure and private interactions with AI and LLMs to safeguard the confidentiality of data models and enhance the reliability and quality of outcomes, while maintaining the data privacy of sources as required by law.
Decentralized credit scoring
Credit scoring, an important prerequisite for financial institutions to lend to individuals, normally requires the disclosure of a great deal of personal information. Once disclosed, the information is costly to process and store by receiving organizations, and is in danger of leakage to malicious actors.
Midnight’s ZK technology can verify an assertion without disclosing information outside of the assertion itself. This feature is useful in decentralized credit scoring, where a credit score can be assigned to a digital ID without the owner of the identity disclosing any other personally identifiable information.
Decentralized anonymous voting
Currently, a voter has to provide identification to prove that they are qualified to vote and have not voted before. That identification may carry other information such as a home address, date of birth, proof of funds in a certain cryptocurrency, or a simple attestation from a blockchain wallet that the voter might not want to reveal publicly.
Blockchain technology provides infrastructure that reduces the opportunity for tampering. And with a DApp using Midnight’s zero-knowledge technology, voters or a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) voting on behalf of its members can prove what they need to without disclosing unnecessary information. The implications are wide-ranging and profound.
Benefits for participants
The Midnight pioneers who join the devnet experience will have the opportunity to:
- Get a head start by developing with pioneering data protection technology as it continues to evolve
- Experience the benefits of IOG’s research-based security-first approach to development
- Have a real impact on the direction of Midnight development
- Focus on the product to be developed rather than the tools with a familiar language and a widely-used IDE
- Have questions answered by the dedicated Midnight engineers
- Increase the exposure of their DApp under development to potential customers
- Showcase their work through private and public webinars with the Midnight and IOG teams.
The Midnight team is looking for individuals or teams that:
- Have a vision for a DApp with specific data protection needs
- Are bold early adopters committed to safe, careful development and thorough testing
- Have TypeScript knowledge and experience
- Have blockchain and cryptography experience or willingness to learn
- Are committed to knowledge sharing and collaborative development.
A suitable development environment should include Linux, Windows, and/ or macOS, with sufficient resources to run a full, non-mining node, a local proof server, and publish subscriber indexer, in addition to the client software.
The first enrolment will be limited to 100 development teams, so the Midnight team can provide personalized support. Further teams will be invited to onboard as the devnet matures.
Apply now to be among the first to interact with the team bringing the next generation of DApps to the wider world with Midnight, have a real impact on the roadmap, and have your project recognized as one of the early adopters.
For more information about Midnight, check out the Midnight website.