Today we are talking to Qi Zhou who is the Founder and CEO of QuarkChain.
- Quarkchain is a flexible, scalable, and user-oriented blockchain infrastructure which uses sharding technology, and was originally developed to address drawbacks in Ethereum's scalability. Quarkchain's sidechain interoperability consistently achieves over 10,000 transactions per second (TPS).
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
When I was young my father was a physics teacher at high school, and he also taught computing. So when I was roughly around 10 years old, I would frequently see my father busy at the computer, and I remember being quite surprised to see something that attracted me as much as computer games. I remember him explaining to me why programming is so interesting, and him telling me that I would learn how programming works when I grow up. So when I did start learning computer programming, I realised it was kind of like an advanced lego, and something which allows you to do a lot of things, and much more than my imagination had originally thought possible. So this was probably the inspiration I had which led me to working with computers now.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
I would say my parents.
I learnt a lot from my father on the technical side, and my mother taught me more on the personality side, and how to think about other people's perspectives and viewpoints. She taught me how to communicate with people as when she was a manager, she dealt with thousands of people. So on the technical, management, human personality side of things, my parents were the ones who influenced me the most.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
I remember that the exam process was quite stressful. For example in different systems, if you enter high school or a different school, you need to have a certain exam scores, and this sometimes leads to some difficult times. I remember that me and my family once had to convince a school that even though I had some relatively low scores, I still had great value which I could offer to the school.So this taught me that as long as I was willing to learn and demonstrate my value, I would always have the chance to prove that I was better than what people originally thought of me, and I actually ended up becoming one of my high school’s outstanding graduates.
So I think that people need to get used to these changes of status. For example right now, the market changes a lot, but we really need to believe in our values and confront those challenges, restore our potentials and demonstrate that we can achieve anything we put our mind to. So as long as people have value, and as long as they have consistent output, they will come out on top.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
The first piece of advice I would give is to have a curiosity of everything.
So for example, my interest in computers started from a curiosity of my father's hard work with computers, and this curiosity has stayed with me up until now. For example, when I see blockchain and Bitcoin, I still show curiosity in how it can work so successfully, and how after 10 years, there still hasn’t been a successful attack against the public network, and that’s really amazing.
The second piece of advice is persistency.
I really believe there are fluctuations in personal performances, and this could be due to different factors such as health, emotions and maybe the market, but this can be overcome if people are patient and persistent. I also believe that people can grow stronger with the support of a great team and company.
So I think that with patience and a willingness to keep learning, everybody can become successful.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
I would say I am someone who loves to learn. After graduation it is common for people to think that they have done all the learning they need, but I feel that learning is kind of a lifetime thing, and that's because there are too many unknowns. So as long as people have curiosity and are willing to continuously learn, they are capable of doing even more things. So for me, I have done a lot of continuous growth, and I'm really happy to see what is different in me now, compared to 5 or 10 years before. And so I'm very happy to see that I can think in a lot of different ways and find different ways to do things. I am also fortunate that my friends have the same methodology to self-learning as me, so this has meant that I don’t need to wait on others,meaning I can do things quite fast. This is another thing that I really appreciate about myself.
Another thing that I think has gradually become one of my strengths, is being able to become an objective party to analyze whether an action based on the best information I know at some specific time is the most reasonable one. This is very valuable because if you look back in time, there's always a better way to do things, and it's impossible to know this in the present time.
One more thing is that I never regret things. People often go through a lot of emotional volatility, and this can be due to uncertainties in life, past happenings or the uncertain nature of the market, but I feel that having a steady emotion and continuing to make progress is important. I think this is something that really I learned in interviews recently.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
So my most controversial opinion is that I think a lot of people aren’t trying to solve problems. People like to use fancy words like Proof of Stake, BFT, Scalability and others, but do we really need to be focusing our attention on these things? Because we have put a lot of resources in these areas, like Ethereum 2.0, Algorand and others, so my question is, is this really how public blockchains will look like in the future? This gives me a lot of concern because people are putting future resources in these directions, and this can potentially create a lot of catastrophic disasters in this area. So this is my controversial opinion.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
So the best way to deal with this is to probably just sleep.
So I used to sleep hard whenever something made me nervous or depressed, and this would definitely affect my performance. But these days, I think it's as long as I can sleep well and come out and have a great coffee, I can then write code, reveal code and perform normal operations. So I think that's something that has really helped me.
The second thing I think which helps me is to think, with the new information and logic that I gain, would the past actions or decisions that me and my company made be the best ones? This has helped me to put things into perspective and realise that everything is a learning process, and how there will always be new information coming into the equation. So in my mind, I’m just like let's make a better decision next time with this new information.
So, yeah, of course there will sometimes be some depressing times for people, but I believe it makes people become stronger and more mature. So resting and thinking back in a more objective way, and having no regrets is the best way to deal with tough times.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
So staying with my family and kids is a very rewarding procedure because sometimes a lot of valuable time with them is missed. Secondly, I would say playing sports. Whenever I have the time I love to play badminton and swim, and sometimes I like to hike with friends. I really love meeting my friends, but sadly I am often too busy with work to see them. But at the same time, I'm also very happy and lucky that I have friends working closely with me in the project, so this helps me to not feel lonely when I am working.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
I can’t think of anything that comes to mind, sorry.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind that you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
If it was one question, I would ask if he thinks our project will become a project that really satisfies or fulfils his original thoughts and motivations for Bitcoin. This is assuming he has a lot of knowledge on us as well haha.
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
That is a difficult question because firstly, I don't have experience in policy making, and also because this highly depends on what country this would be implemented in, so it's very difficult to answer. But if the country is already well established, I think a policy that I would like to make is to ensure opportunity fairness. I think this is also similar to the term in the sentence written in the Constitution of the United States, ‘the pursuit of happiness’. So I think this is something I would really want to introduce.
The second one would be to ensure that there will be great education for everybody. This is closely related to the first one, and I personally have benefited a lot from education, so I firmly believe that education gives people a second life.
The third thing I would like to propose is to encourage technologies which would actually improve the first two suggestions I made, and I would definitely say that blockchain has a way to do this. A good example is seeing how the Proof-Of-Work algorithm brings fairness to all miners, because as long as they have the hash power, they are able to generate Bitcoin in an equal way. So I think blockchain technology can also bring fairness in other real world operations.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) What do you feel makes the QuarkChain community unique compared to others?
Firstly, it is important to note that there are different categories which make up a community. So for example, when you look at Bitcoin, there will be a mining community, miners, mining pools and farms. There will also be token holders and core developers. But if you look at the Ethereum community, there's also a further community called the DApp community.
QuarkChain achieved supreme flexibility based on its heterogeneous sharding technology. We know that each shard chain contains four components including consensus, transaction mode, ledger, and token economics. QuarkChain can use different consensus, virtual machines, and other components on each shard. All the consensus can be merged and reflected on different shard chains. So for us right now, our community is growing, and growing doesn’t mean that we have more token holders, but as we evolve we are adding more and more categories to our network. So right now we have Proof-Of-Work mining for GPU miners, and we also devised a CPU hash algorithm so that CPU miners can now join our community too. Also, we opened our smart contract last year, which means that Dapp developers can now join as well. We have also created a hybrid Proof-Of-Stake work, meaning that existing holders can also participate in the network. In the future, we will also look to support privacy transactions for projects like Zcash or Mimblewimble.
So in my opinion, what makes the QuarkChain community unique is that we can bring all types of people together to participate in our network. This can be through mining, or contributing with development, or staking to get rewards. So we have more diversity, and moving forward we want to continue encouraging more members to join.
13) Personal project aside, what are some ‘communities’ in the space that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
I admire the Ethereum community as there are lots of applications being built on the Ethereum network, and that's something which I think we will also move towards because we can now perform much higher transactions than Ethereum, and support others compatible with EVM. So we are thinking how we are able to bring better benefits compared to Ethereum besides scalability.
14) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
I use Telegram a lot as I think it's a great way for people to talk freely about things, and I really think this is true to the spirit of blockchain. But at the same time, when I use Telegram I feel that there's also a lot of spam and bots running, and this is pretty conflicting because even though Telegram allows for people to have more freedom in their interactions, it also gives people the ability to do more spam.
How would I improve it? I have no idea to be honest, I just know that there are two things conflicting against each other. So if there was an audit and a registration process, then there would be less spam, but people would then be more restricted when using the platform. But the good news is that I think it is inevitable that someone will find a solution to improve this.
15) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
Of course. Right now the blockchain community is built upon individuals contributing tiny efforts, but once it becomes mainstream it will become something that a lot of big players will become interested in, and who will want to learn more. So I think the efforts of the community will continue, but I do feel that the education process takes a long time, and also the cost is very high. For example right now I’m trying to educate my parents and relatives about how this works, and I also try to encourage them to buy a little bit, but it's still very hard for them. But I also think this is no different to some people still not knowing how to use browsers for example. So as long as people get education (especially young people) and learn, I think the blockchain community will continue to grow and become bigger.
I’m actually really happy to see that my kids are already showing an interest, and my daughter once came home from school and said to me, hey dad, today I created a wallet at school, and I learned how to transfer Bitcoin and QuarkChain all by myself. So this is the standard I am really looking forward to seeing in the future.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding QuarkChain.
16) What do you feel sets QuarkChain apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
It depends how you define success? From my definition of success, I think we still have a long road to take. For example Bitcoin can kind of be seen as a success right now, but way back in 2009/2010, people were saying not to use Bitcoin transactions as they were worried somebody would try to attack Bitcoin. So even though right now this is less likely to happen, and that some people are now saying Bitcoin has somewhat fulfilled a lot of the expectations Satoshi had set, this still took some time to achieve.
So for us, we have a lot of expectations of QuarkChain, and we won’t say we have achieved success until some of our expectations have been met. Right now we are still at a very early stage, and still need to get a lot of usage, so this is one expectation we are looking for. Our second expectation is that we want to be able to unite various different actors under the QuarkChain network. For 99% of the existing blockchain platforms, they all have a fixed combination of the four components: consensus, transaction mode( virtual machine) , ledger and token economics. Once defined, it cannot be modified or upgraded as needed. But QuarkChain can customize the 4 components on different shard chains and meet the needs of different application scenarios.
I would say we still have a long road to go, but we are happy to educate more people about what QuarkChain can do, and are continuing to work hard on adding to our infrastructure, making all the user experience much more easier and simpler,and also making it easy for developers to develop on top of QuarkChain.
So I think what I am trying to say is that we have very high expectations, and we are confident that we will achieve them.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
17) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
Look back to the Internet in 2000. Everybody had the Internet, but the majority of people still had no idea what a business model on the internet looked like, or how to get revenue from it. But once people started to learn more about the potential of the internet, everything grew exponentially, and now we have Google, Amazon and other big tech companies. So I believe the same will be with blockchain. Even though we see bear markets similar to a 2000 bubble, I believe that the blockchain space will have similar growth in terms of the number of users and transactions seen on the Internet. So next question is who can be the Facebook, Google or Amazon? I have no doubt that one day there will be new giants, and maybe more community driven ones which will bring blockchain and cryptocurrency to more people, meaning that more organizations will also join this big revolution.
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