Public AMA with Pastel Network
On the 5th of January, ShinChan community conducted a live AMA with Jeff Emanuel the founder & CEO of Pastel Network.
Jeff: Pastel is all about empowering artists and art collectors to create, collect, and trade provably rare digital artwork in a truly decentralized, secure, and robust way.
When we started this project a few years ago, we concluded that the only way to do this was to make an application-specific blockchain (rather than an ETH token) so we could control every aspect. The biggest issue with other methods is that they do not provide storage for the image files themselves, and you can’t put this data directly into the blockchain without it quickly running into scaling issues.
But there are actually other equally important issues: how can you prove that a digital image is really rare? Sure you can calculate a hash of an image file. But what if someone tries to take another artist’s image and just changes one pixel in the corner of the image? No one would notice but the hash would be different. To protect artists and collectors we realized that we needed a way to detect duplicate images. That is the most innovative aspect of the project since we use 5 deep learning image recognition algorithms together with advanced statistics to detect dupes — even if they have been modified in all sorts of ways (like running any kind of photoshop filter on the image, or cropping, or flipping it, or changing contrast/colors, adding random noise pixels, etc.)
To deliver these services (like storing image files and duplicate detection, which uses a ton of CPU power) to users in a decentralized way, we adopted a master node system similar to that of DASH
This way, anyone who wants to can buy enough of the coin and start their own master node and actually run the system — you don’t need permission from anyone, and it means that the system will never stop running because we got bored of it and moved on (or even if we got hit by a bus!) — as long as anyone wants to they can run servers themselves.
We believe that digital artwork on the blockchain is the way art is going to be in the future. It avoids the middlemen (galleries, dealers, agents) that act as gatekeepers, keeping the art world exclusively for wealthy people in big cities and the anointed “hot artists”. And keeping fees extremely high so it it’s very costly for collectors to trade/sell their collected works.
But for this to really take off and last, it needs to be a dedicated project that includes all aspects. You don’t want to pay a lot for an artwork on some other system only to have the link that points to some Google or Amazon server goes dead because someone stopped paying the bill 10 years from now.
Anyway, I think we can open for questions now
Q1: How do you plan to spread awareness about your project in different countries where English is not spoken well? Do you have local communities for them to let them better understand your project?
In the beginning, we are focusing on English because that’s the language that the main people making the project speak. But we definitely want to go after markets in Asia in a big way.
Q2: Pastel Network claimed to be a p2p truly decentralized place to securely sell, own and trade digital art. Can you tell us how you aim to prevent users from selling copied artworks or inappropriate content on your platform?
Yes, we have an extensive statistical-based system of detected images that have already been registered on the Pastel system. In addition to that, since master node owners will be storing image data themselves (using our proprietary fountain coding based chunking system), it’s important that there not be any illegal images uploaded and registered on the system — think child porn in particular. To prevent this, all master nodes will be using an advanced deep learning-based system to detect NSFW images and prevent these from getting into the system, which could make it scary to host a master node because you don’t want illegal images on a server you control.
Q3: What is the PASTEL NETWORK infrastructure that gives developers the tools needed to build DApps?
There are no DApps right now contemplated for Pastel. There will be an API that our wallet infrastructure uses and which could be used to make 3rd party wallets/web services/apps, but these wouldn’t necessarily be part of the actual decentralized project — there are no smart contracts or anything like that. We decided that it was much better and more secure to do a limited project, based on the Bitcoin codebase, JUST for art.
Q4: If I’m not mistaken, your largest goal is to keep digital artworks of all sizes accessible for the indefinite future? This is quite a difficult task to accomplish, how do you intend to go about it?
It’s a combination of technology (breaking up images into hundreds of fungible chunks using fountain codes (see https://firstname.lastname@example.org/fountain-blocks-a-simple-and-robust-decentralized-file-storage-system-9354770d9822 ), so even if many master nodes suddenly disconnect forever, the art image file can still be reconstructed, and economic incentives (master node operators are paid a registration fee when the art is added to the system that is based on the image file size, and master nodes operators also receive a portion of the trading fees in addition to a share of the mining block reward so they have an interest in continuing to run their servers).
Q5: Many have recognized the potential of NFT on the Ethereum network but few have been able to take advantage and exploit their cases of use, what has Pastel done to change this and give real value and use to their NFT?
It’s important to understand that Pastel is NOT Ethereum based. It is totally different in how it works from other NFT based art projects. Please read our Whitepaper for more information, but we are closer to Bitcoin/Dash in terms of how the system is architected than we are to ETH.
Q6: How does Pastel Network handle government regulations and boundaries? And what mechanisms/strategies do you use to keep users motivated and present on your platform? What can the Pastel Network platform guarantee or promise in terms of the security and privacy of its users?
We try to avoid the most serious problems by implemented dupe detection and NSFW detection. However, because the project is truly decentralized, we won’t really have the power to police users. If for example, a user uploads a drawing of Bart Simpson (which is copyrighted), there would be no one to call on the phone or send a threatening lawyer letter to because there is no centralized server or repository for controlling this stuff. Even if the lawyers prevented our group from running Masternodes, the code is out there and would be tough to shut down, similar to Bitcoin.
Q7: What kind of artists are welcome at Pastel? Can anyone create their NFT or do they have to be registered as an artist in their home country?
Anyone can participate! One of the main goals of the project is to make the art world — both creating and collecting — more accessible to regular people! We believe that Pastel is a better alternative for digital artists than sites like GoFundMe or Patreon. The reason is that you can reward your best fans/followers by letting them participate in your success. If a collector buys an artist's work early on for a low price, and then the artist becomes famous and respected, the original artwork will appreciate and everyone wins. And because of the dupe detection, the collector doesn’t have to worry that an artist will get greedy and take a limited run of 10 artwork “digital prints” and turn into 1,000 “digital prints” — the dupe detection system won’t allow artists to do that.
Q8: How are the ownership rights and security and curation of Masterpieces maintained by Pastel Network? What happens in case of damage to the asset while in storage or transportation?
There are numerous safeguards in place to prevent this from happening, including image file hashes and our own artwork digital fingerprinting which we use for duplicate detection. If you read the article I posted on our storage system, it explains how we can reliably recreate the original image files from hundreds of file chunks that have been redundantly stored on dozens of different master nodes.
Q9: Currently most investors only care about profits at the moment so they sell tokens. So can $PSL give them some advice on why they should buy and hold this token/coin in the long term?
If the project is successful, it will be a true PLATFORM. Bill Gates once described the definition of a platform as being that the value of all the things made on the system is more valuable than the system itself (e.g., all the software in the world written for MS Windows was worth more than Windows itself, which is/was true). So if that happens for Pastel, the collective value of the artwork will be by far the biggest determiner of the total value. And owning a piece of that system will be worth that much more because the artwork itself is denominated in Pastel coin. Also, we have a very limited emission schedule based on Bitcoin, with a hard limit to the total number of coins.
Q10: How does Pastel Network check the suitability of the content submitted? If the Masternode rejects inappropriate content, will the NSFW Cake filter generate an initial block on this image or video? Is this blockage is permanent or until the suitability of the source is checked?
We use an open-source system developed by Yahoo that detects NSFW content. At the time the image is being registered by the artist, the artist will pay an initial registration fee. If the image is deemed NSFW, the artwork will be rejected by the registering Masternodes and won’t even make it into the system, and the artist will lose part of the registration fee to pay for the compute resources used in the registering process (this is also to protect the system against DDOS attacks).
Q11: As an artist, I would like to know Who truly owns the file connected to the token metadata on pastel network?
Depends on what you mean by “own”! In the legal sense, whoever owns the copyright could try to claim ownership in court (in the case of a totally original artwork not based on existing intellectual property, the artist automatically is the owner). But in the sense of “own” meaning exclusive control/dominion over the artwork in terms of the Pastel ecosystem, the person who first registers the artwork is the original owner. They can then create a certain number of instances of the artwork (think of these like limited edition prints, say 10 limited copies, and no more will be created). Then, anyone who buys any of those prints will be the owner of that rare print. And if that collector resells it to another collector, that new collector will “own” that print.
Q12: For a project development first of all main priority is having enough funds. Does your team financially capable to run this project? Do you have enough funds for its development Can you tell us that how your project generates the profit?
Yes, we are backed by a significant fund and the main people involved in the project are independently well off enough to continue running the project indefinitely.
Q13: Liquidity and transaction fees are always important factors. How does Pastel Network solve the above problem to attract users?
We have intentionally made the fees for registering and trading digital artwork reasonable so that regular people can use the system without having a ton of frictional expense.
Q14: Pastel is based on Z-Cash, but unlike Z-Cash, there is no coded mining reward. My question is, what is the cornerstone of Pastel architecture? So where does the Pastel Network compensation and promotion come from?
There is a mining reward. The system is similar to DASH in this sense. Masternode operators also get a portion of the mining reward as well as their share of registration and trading fees.
Q15: One interesting thing is that you DON’T USE Oracle like chainlink or similar, but why? Does this not attract the attention of Legal terms?
Yes, we believe the project needs to stand on its own without referring to other projects or blockchains. Otherwise, it is too difficult to reason about the security characteristics, and it undermines the degree of decentralization.
Q16: Do you think your system is secure enough? How
safe is your system in securing funds and user data?
It is based on Bitcoin/DASH/Zcash, so we believe it has similar security characteristics to these projects (taking into account network hash rate of course). But no reason that it can’t be extremely secure with enough mining power behind it.
Q17: What tools does Pastel Network offer digital art developers and creators? Do you provide support to creators?
To start with, the system will have a wallet application that will guide non-technical artists through the process of registering new artworks and entering all the metadata fields (such as title, number of copies/instances of the artwork) and the process of listing these for sale (initial offered price, number of copies to offer for sale).
Q18: Why did you decide to change the reward method used by Z-Cash? The voting system used by Pastel can be manipulated and not very beneficial to many?
Because the system is based on a two-tier, masternode setup. This was required to run the powerful machines required for the dupe detection and NSFW detection and to provide enough financial incentive for masternode operators to store many gigabytes or art image data. The voting system can’t be manipulated except by someone starting up a huge number of master nodes, and even then, master nodes are randomly selected for all operations so you would need to control the vast majority of all master nodes — but in that case, you would also need to own most of the Pastel coins.
Q19: What are the unique features of Pastel Wallet? Is Pastel Wallet the only choice for users to interact with the Pastel ecosystem?
To start with, the wallet is the main way to interact with the system. But it’s open-source and we welcome anyone creating a competing wallet or web service that interacts with our project. It just needs to follow our protocol, similar to how there are many different Bitcoin wallets from different companies/people out there that all interface with the same Bitcoin system.
Q20: Can Pastel Network tell us a little. How did you involve the community in developing the Pastel Network project? and how do you build a strong community to grow globally?
Early on, we targeted the digital art anime community to develop a use case and better understand our core user. We have been active in terms of targeting different audiences of both artists and collectors alike through programs to incentivize their participation in the network.
Q21: It is unfortunate that some projects remain halfway because their developers abandon the concept because they cannot achieve the desired capitalization in the long term; how do you plan to make this project #PASTEL sustainable for its development?
Well, we started work on this way back in 2018 and have stuck with it this whole time. There are no guarantees of anything in this life but I think we have shown a lot of dedication to the idea in terms of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of developer time designing and coding up the system.
We are well-funded and backed by a group that has helped incubate the platform. Every stakeholder involved — from the management team to the development community and our investors — is equally aligned and passionate about what we are building with long-term, strategic thinking in mind.
Q22: What do you think about the staking economy? How is this implemented in Pastel Network? What are the benefits can ART provide to these staking holders?
We are strong believers in the superiority of the mining system for securing a blockchain. We don’t believe that stake based systems are secure because they suffer from numerous attack vectors.
Q23: Many crypto projects are often attacked by hackers. How can you ensure Pastel has strong security and privacy to prevent hacker attacks?
The best way for us to do this is to attract enough miners to secure our blockchain and also to attract as many master node operators as possible to run the service. This will make the system more redundant and more decentralized. Ideally, we could have Masternode operators running servers in every country, on different ISPs, using different providers, etc. so that it becomes impossible to knock the system offline.
Q24: Can a Pastel artwork be used as collateral?
That is not currently supported in the system, but a third party could try to develop a service like that. The price of an artwork could be too easily manipulated though through a conspiracy, so I think someone who lent to you based on the value of artwork would be asking for trouble!
Q25: What are the major milestones You achieved so far & what are in the future pipeline?
What are the major milestones You achieved so far & what are in the future pipeline?
To date, we have launched the mainnet and have built out the core underlying infrastructure. We have also implemented key features ranging from the duplicate detection system to the art registration and trading system.
Our next key milestone is rolling out the web-based application.