At Zama, we have always bet big on our open source and community efforts. We are fully transparent about our strategy, publish our results and open source our implementation. We also put a lot of effort supporting developers and the FHE community more broadly, such as by actively participating and helping organize FHE.org.
Today, we are taking things one step further with the launch of the Zama Bounty Program: an experimental initiative designed to incentivize the community to help us move the FHE space forward.
What is a bounty program?
The first known Bug Bounty Program was launched in 1983 by a company named Hunter and Ready for their Versatile Real-Time Executive operating system. At the time, anyone reporting a bug in their product would receive a Volkswagen Beetle (a.k.a Bug) as a reward.
Since then, many companies have continued to leverage the power of Bug Bounty Programs to identify issues and vulnerabilities in their products, but also to recognize and compensate active developers of their community.
The Zama Bounty Program
Traditional bounty programs usually reward contributors for finding bugs and security vulnerabilities. While this is very important (and we do that too!), we think it’s even more important to incentivize the community at large to solve problems that can make FHE leap 10 years into the future. This is why our bounty program is centered on contribution rather than bugs.
This is how it works:
1. At the beginning of each quarter, our team will release a set of bounties under three main categories:
- Easy Bounties, which are relatively simple and a good starting point for people wanting to learn more about FHE. Examples include writing a tutorial, finding a minor bug or adding a simple feature. Prizes range from €500 to €5,000.
- Expert Bounties, which require substantial experience in FHE. Examples include contributing a major feature to one of our products, solving a hard research problem or finding a major vulnerability. Prizes range from €5,000 to €50,000.
- Moonshot Bounties, which are so hard that solving them would likely change the FHE landscape for good. This could be accelerating FHE 1000x, inventing a completely new FHE scheme and more. Prizes range from €50,000 to infinity.
- Open Bounties: this is an open category where you can submit an idea you have, or something you have done. From finding a bug to implementing a new feature or use case, we are open to reward any good contribution with an appropriate prize!
2. Anyone can then apply to solve a bounty by filling the dedicated form. A specific Zama team member will review and accept your application. We do this to ensure people know how many other people are working on the same bounty and can decide to compete accordingly.
3. At the end of every quarter, our team (with the help of external reviewers when needed) will review all submissions and decide whether to attribute the bounties and to whom. This gives everyone a chance to finish their work before a final decision is made.
Why did we decide to do this? It might seem counter intuitive for a company to ask external people to help them succeed. After all, we do have some of the best people working in our team already. But if there is one thing we learned as scientists it’s that the biggest breakthroughs often come from places we least expect. This is one way to find out where these are!