Elizabeth Stark Explains the Importance of Layer Two in the Role of Blockchain Technology

Elizabeth Stark, CEO & Co-founder of Lightning Labs, begins by explaining the history of the internet. Stark shares how the internet has evolved from its genesis but is also quick to point out that one thing has always stayed the constant: the concept of the internet is a completely decentralized virtual world. However, recently our time on the internet is spent primarily at a couple of sites which use centralized data servers.

Stark continues to talk about the various layers of the internet (physical, data link, network, transport, session, presentation, application) and the blockchain can serve in the application layer of the internet. Stark makes the metaphor that layer 2 solutions are essentially HTTP for blockchains.  

“Basically we’re at 1995 [the most important year for the development of the internet] all over again and we have an amazing opportunity. The blockchain can serve as a base layer for the internet.”

Addressing the inherent scalability issues of blockchains, Stark offers a way to solve the problem with creating a “Layer Two” – a peripheral network that settles transactions on its own blockchain rather than having all transactions settled on a premium global blockchain.

“The blockchain is a court for smart contract dispute resolution. Because of its binary state the contract can only contractually be valid or invalid,” states Stark.

Stark shows a picture quote which says, “What if I told you there could be a layer 3?” Which Stark clarifies is the layer which paves the way for smart contracting, digital currencies, and dApps but it all depends on the success of layer two which in turns relies on the success of layer one of the internet.

This talk was given at the Blockstack Summit 2017 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California.