This is the personal blog of Eric Tung (aka Yuhao Dong, “nullchinchilla”).
I create technology that enables autonomy and self-organization in cyberspace. Growing up in China, I witnessed how information manipulation in the form of Communist propaganda and the Great Firewall enslaves people by distorting their view of the truth. But China is only a particularly bad instance of a global problem: centralized subversion of information infrastructure. Sadly, it’s common knowledge that social media manipulation, mass surveillance, and deplatforming plague even the freest societies in the world.
Fortunately, security and privacy technologies powered by modern cryptography can provide extremely strong defenses against digital totalitarianism. This has been my research area for nearly a decade, in which I have published multiple peer-reviewed papers. I have also founded two startups based on my research: Geph and Themelio.
My CV can be downloaded here.
Geph and Themelio
I am the creator and maintainer of Geph, a VPN with uniquely strong censorship circumvention and user privacy guarantees based on advanced cryptography. Geph evolved out of my passion for anti-censorship and privacy technologies since childhood — I started developing Geph’s predecessor, Yasfib, in 2010 as a 12-year-old living in China, the year after China began mass blocking of mainstream websites.
Geph has stood up to numerous targeted attacks from China and Iran’s Internet censorship programs: it is one of the few secure VPNs functioning reliably in countries with heavy censorship. It also has a novel authentication system based on blind signatures that lets it combine the privacy of a permissionless, anonymous system like Psiphon or Freegate with the much stronger censorship circumvention and monetization opportunities possible with distinct user accounts. Today, Geph is a profitable freemium business with more than 60,000 active users, most of whom live in heavily censored regions of the world.
I am also the founder, CEO, and lead developer of Themelio, a new kind of public blockchain designed from the ground up as a radically immutable and autonomous trust substrate. Current roots of trust, such as certificate authorities, name registries, and electronic financial systems, are typically centralized and mutable, run by entities with unaccountable power over all secure interactions on the Internet. This makes information subversion online especially easy and total — subvert the roots of trust, and you have everything. Themelio’s vision is to replace the current Internet’s centralized roots of trust with a decentralized, neutral, and secure alternative. In 2020, Themelio received seed funding from Polychain Capital; we are now a rapidly growing startup with a public token launch scheduled for Q1 2022.
Some of my interests include historical linguistics, science fiction world-building, and Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy.
Blogs I like:
- Edward Feser (A-T philosophy; social commentary from a traditional natural-law perspective)
- Scott Alexander (careful analysis of tricky subjects from a positivist/“rationalist” perspective, of Slate Star Codex fame)
- Bionic Mosquito (“paleolibertarian” musings on various subjects)
- ToughSF (hard science-fiction worldbuilding)