Today, Web3 Foundation and Parity Technologies announced the release of their first proof of concept for Polkadot, PoC-1. The platform is intended to tackle some of blockchain technology's most pressing problems, like scalability, interoperability, and shared security. The two companies hope that PoC-1 will be a significant step toward the realization of a heterogeneous multi-chain that could enable trust-free interchain transactions.
Polkadot's stated plan to "revolutionize the blockchain space" by allowing chains to communicate with one another – sharing features like security measures or decentralized applications – is a markedly ambitious goal.
"PoC-1 follows in the footsteps of Ethereum's PoC-1," said Gavin Wood, the creator of Polkadot, Web3 Foundation president, and chief technology officer of Parity Technologies. "I'm excited to see a testnet going, and start kicking the tyres of some of the technology Polkadot and its underlying platform, Substrate, [are] bringing to the world including a proof-of-stake WebAssembly core, a self-defining state-transition-function and underlying approval vote-based governance."
The heart of Polkadot's platform is its "relay chain," which "connects blockchains together by coordinating transactions and consensus between chains." Per the lightpaper, "Polkadot allows new designs of blockchains to communicate and pool their security while still allowing them to have entirely arbitrary state-transition functions."
Polkadot purports to employ a governance system that empowers token holders in ways previously restricted to miners. "Polkadot token holders have complete control over the protocol. All privileges, which on other platforms are exclusive to miners, will be given to the relay chain participants (DOT holders) including managing exceptional events such as protocol upgrades and fixes."
The Polkadot network is being built under contract by Parity Technologies, with "stewardship" from the Web3 Foundation. "This milestone has an even larger significance due to the consequences of a well known event," said the release, acknowledging the massive Parity wallet freeze that occurred last November and still has over 500,000 Ether locked up (though the release made no mention of the significant July 2017 hack that exploited the multisig wallets).
Polkadot's PoC-1 is able to demonstrate the validation of blocks using a Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus algorithm on a testnet. Moreover, this particular platform is meant to be upgradable on-chain, so as not to require "forking procedures" to ensure the network's growth and adaptability. In other words, this is an early-stage milestone.
The Polkadot network is slated to go live in the third quarter of 2019.