it's been a while. 2022 has been a wild ride for me and I am here to tell you all about it. For those who don't know me - Welcome! I'm DC, a 21-year-old that loves Ethereum, AI/ML, cryptography, and their applications. So much has happened since my 2021 "Recap of my year, future prospects" article. I somehow managed to achieve all of the goals set out for myself and that is something that I am very proud of. In this article, I'll take a look back at what happened in my life this year and what I think 2023 will be like for me.
Last January I set myself a few professional goals:
smart contract testing + EVM
Full-stack web development
exploring different areas of blockchain development
learn cryptography basics
create a public learning resource
find a project and mission worth fully dedicating myself to by mid-year
These were my plans for last year and somehow I managed to make them all happen. Below is how it all happened:
I spent the first half of the year trying out different areas within the blockchain realm to see what I want to focus on professionally. By that time I had already spent over 2 and a half years as a researcher and technical writer in the space working for Moralis and publishing articles and threads as dcbuilder on Twitter (since April 2021). I started feeling like there wasn't much else for me to learn where I was at and I wanted to focus more on building since I enjoy creating more than documenting and wanted to know more about how the technology underlying these fascinating crypto protocols actually works. I decided to go into blockchain development and put research and writing on the side for a little bit. The quest for exploring the landscape begins.
At the beginning of the year, I flew to Madrid to visit my friend Miguel Piedrafita (@m1guelpf). He was learning Solidity at the time and working on his lil-web3 repo. We spent a week talking about what we wanted to do moving forward and having fun with different ideas. I felt that I wanted to learn about different aspects of blockchain development and use my skills as a researcher and technical writer while doing so. I wanted to share what I was learning and got the idea to create what later became devpill.me, a public good blockchain development guide. At this point in time I still worked for Moralis as a crypto researcher and writer. In February I flew over to the US to attend the ETHDenver conference where I stayed at a hacker house with a few friends from Twitter. I went to different talks, built a fun little project for Valentine's day using Solidity and Foundry, attended an MEV party co-organized by Flashbots at our hacker house and so much more. I also met my friends from Alongside in person for the first time and after the event, I decided to join them as a part-time research engineer exploring different cryptographic schemes for a future decentralized custodian architecture for their index products. At this time I started getting really interested in cryptography and Ethereum core development because I got to see what it actually entails to build these protocols and how fun it is to put all of these building blocks together to solve very hard problems. I learned a lot during my time at Alongside and I will always be grateful to the team for giving me the opportunity to become part of the project for a few months.
One of my favorite events of the entire year was DevConnect in Amsterdam where I got to meet so many of my Twitter friends and attend amazing events like MEV Day from Flashbots, Layer Two Amsterdam by L2Beat, Modular Summit, Schelling Point and so many more. I managed to explore all of the areas of the blockchain industry that I wanted and talked to different people from all of them. Two topics kept peaking my interest throughout 2022, namely MEV and ZK. Last year I set out to find a project that I would join full-time by mid-2023, so around Devconnect I started getting serious about exploring different projects that I could work on in order to build within an area I'm interested in. I looked at different places like Flashbots, Optimism, Starkware, Arbitrum, and many others and talked to many of their members. My friend Miguel started working at Worldcoin around March and he was really excited about the project. In May I got invited to an event to meet the team, I learned a lot more about their mission, and the problems they were working on at the time on the crypto side of things, I met the founders, people from different departments from AI, Security to Hardware and Logistics. The sheer ambition and quality of the team really made an impression on me and after working with the team on the side for a month in July I decided to join full-time!
Worldcoin is building a privacy-preserving proof-of-personhood protocol called World ID in order to be able to solve sybil resistance and to be able to distribute value to all people on earth equitably. I am a junior research engineer at Worldcoin where I get to explore new potential technologies that might help carry out the mission and work on building out the infrastructure required. When I joined I started working on creating a demo for creating a zero-knowledge proof for a convolutional neural network using the plonky2 proving system. This would allow Worldcoin users to update their World ID once a new model for IrisCode generation is released without going back to an orb. It was a nice way for me to learn Rust, dust off my understanding of ML, and learn the basics of ZK. In the process, I also created the ZKML community and an aggregator for ZKML resources. I started learning about cryptography more in-depth through resources like Dan Boneh's Cryptography 1, ZKHack's Whiteboard sessions, and Uncloak's Rust Cryptography course among others. I'm really excited to have begun learning about cryptography more formally and doing more foundational work in the field rather than just learning about the capabilities it provides and how different projects harness them for their respective use cases.
For the last few months of 2022, I kept learning more about Rust, Cryptography, ZK, and Solidity whilst working on different projects. I helped contribute to EIP-4844 by attending Implementer calls and KZG ceremony calls, running a devnet 3 node, testing various things, and pushing for the EIP on CT and in person at conferences. I also spent about a month in SF at the Worldcoin office, attended SBC, met many crypto friends in the area, and traveled. All of this leads up to today where I am currently focused on modifying our Semaphore fork and writing a few new smart contracts to be able to support different chains for World ID.
It's been a really wild ride and I couldn't be happier to be working at Worldcoin because I get to do all of the things I really care about. I am able to focus on core infrastructure and protocol development, moving the needle in one of the places where it matters most. I am able to contribute to a mission I believe in and that I consider really important by working together with an absolutely amazing team that I am constantly learning a lot from and that supports me on my journey. Worldcoin is a place where I can focus on improving myself without any compromises and allows me to learn all the technologies I like and work on the projects I care about the most, like Ethereum core.
I explored different areas of blockchain development
I found a particular interest in protocol and infrastructure development
created devpill.me, a public good blockchain development guide
I joined Worldcoin
Did my first contribution to Ethereum core (EIP4844)
created the ZKML community
moved to Lisbon
traveled all around the world and met many of my CT friends and people I look up to
grounded myself and got ready to focus fully on one thing
For most of my life I have been somewhat good at a lot of things, but never objectively excelled at any given skill. In 2023 I want to get rid of all distractions, plan ahead, become more disciplined and focus on the things I deem important. I moved to Lisbon to my own apartment so that I can have a good home base with no distractions and so that I can become the best version of myself this year.
These are my goals for 2023:
become a senior Rust engineer
become proficient in cryptography (ZK more specifically) and make a significant contribution to the field
deploy a project that will run in production for Worldcoin (Rust / Solidity + Foundry)
take math and CS courses in relevant areas
contribute significant PRs to reth (new Ethereum execution layer client written in Rust), lighthouse (Ethereum consensus layer client written in Rust), and ezkl (library and command-line tool for doing inference for deep learning models and other computational graphs in a zk-snark).
2022 was the year of the merge, where Ethereum finally switched from proof of work to proof of stake and the year of #L222 where Ethereum rollups gained adoption and now even process more transactions than Ethereum mainnet! For a good summary of this year and a general thesis I mostly agree with for 2023, I recommend reading Messari’s Crypto Thesis for 2023. Personally, there are a few things I am looking forward to:
Cancun HF - EIP4844 going live
Progress on EIP4337 - Account abstraction
Better identity primitives
Better MEV mitigation mechanisms and less censorship (the scourge)
Rollups becoming more mature
new proof systems, better ZK security, tooling, audits, formal verification
2023 is shaping up to be a great year full of innovation and I’m really looking forward to what the future holds.