BUIDLing on the Fetch.ai Economic Utility of the Future

Feb 27, 2019

The FET token is a requirement to get anything done on the Fetch.AI network, either as a digital or human participant. In this sense, it is the same as water, electricity or the Internet: your appliances need electricity to work, your plumbing doesn’t do much without a water supply and your entire automated house is worthless if the Internet vanishes. FET is the enabler to use, build, explore and deploy: it provides the opportunity to deliver value and earn from doing so, as well as finding the things that you need to — it is a pure utility token.
The Fetch.AI world’s digital entities, the machines getting work done, thrive in the world supported by FET’s utility. These machines, or Autonomous Economic Agents as we call them, and the nodes that make up the decentralised network, comprise the Fetch main network, which will be fully released in late 2019. In the meanwhile, the tokens issued in the token sale exist as passengers on an existing network — ethereum — as ERC-20 tokens.

Fetch.AI’s test network allows people to develop, test, deploy and play and that work is supported by test tokens which, whilst they have no value outside the test network, are a requirement to participate. The ERC-20 tokens act as an enabler to receive test tokens and, as such, are an essential part in building with Fetch.AI until the main network goes live. This utility is supported by a great number of further reasons why you would want to hold and use them and there are a number of mechanisms for growing them between now and the native FET token’s arrival before Christmas 2019.

Agents getting things done on the main network

It is clear why we need a large circulating supply of mainnet FET tokens, it’s the very air that agents breathe, and without it they simply can’t get things done. They can’t see the world, touch it, interact with it. More importantly, though, they can’t transact without it: without FET, you can’t earn more FET through delivering your value to the agents that want it. Given that this is a network that is all about learning how to connect agents together so they can exchange value, and making this knowledge and power available to everyone on the network, there is a clear need for FET to be used as the utility to enable this.

Then there’s the synergetic computing and smart contracts (and yes, we actually mean smart): this stuff isn’t free. Executing machine learning programs on the ledger costs computing power, as do the powerful, second-generation smart contracts that Fetch.AI supports. Much as you would convert ETH on the ethereum network to gas in order to pay for the instructions you are using to execute your smart contract, you do the same with Fetch.AI. Each instruction that the Fetch Virtual Machine executes costs “gas”, but so do all the higher level operations that agents use to navigate their digital world. Providing these services to agents is one of the key ways in which node operators are incentivised to take part.

Building a multi-dimensional picture of agents that are north of you, in a cone, out to 100KM that represent the intersection of transportation and healthcare and are connected to infrastructure nodes, is going to cost (not much, but it will). With such a “view” on the world, the agent can do an extraordinary amount when it comes to delivering its value in a targeted fashion. This kind of hunt-and-sell is a fantastic way the less passive, more active agents can get out there and efficiently narrow down who they should talk to, and in such a way that the value gained exceeds (by a suitably large margin) the costs of doing so. This balance between active and passive agents (low power, low cost data representatives, for example) ensures a healthy opportunity for both to transact in a world that’s continuously optimising itself to be a better and better introduction agency.

The window between test and main networks

FET utility tokens, therefore, are an essential thing for agents and users of the network (represented through potentially many agents) to hold in order to extract the network’s benefits. Your travel plans solved, your business’s assets effectively tracked, your home appliances negotiating with each other to reduce your energy costs — all of this happening thanks to the FET tokens flying around constantly between many billions of autonomous agents all doing stuff, all the time. Or, to put it a shorter way: everyone needs FET to earn FET. You need some to get your agent onto the network so it can earn more by transacting with other agents.
Of course, there is a but, and that relates to the window of time between testnet and mainnet. The initial FET tokens, such as those sold in the public token sale on the 25th February 2019, are ERC-20 tokens. This means that they exist on the ethereum network as a smart-contract construct. The Fetch.AI main network won’t be online until the end of 2019, after which ERC-20 tokens will be converted over a period of time to main-net native tokens. In the meanwhile, the testnet uses test tokens, which are not “real” in the sense that they have temporary value inside the testnet, but that value cannot be realised outside of it. Indeed, as development takes place, they’ll probably be reset many times.

Have ERC-20 tokens, will develop! Get access to the code, the test network, the apps and much, much more
So where’s the incentive to hold onto the ERC-20 tokens, beyond holding them for future utility? Well, there are several reasons to keep and get use out of the ERC-20 tokens: first and foremost is that it enables development on the test network and you cannot develop effectively without them. Secondly, through various airdrop and bounty programs, ERC-20 token holders can gain extra ERC-20 tokens by developing for, working on and experimenting with the test network. Thirdly, without them, you can’t eventually get to the main network and the value it delivers. Fourthly, they let you play. Never underestimate play and experimentation as a driver of innovation. So let’s work through these things individually:

1. ERC-20 tokens enable network development
The Fetch.AI community site requires you to have ERC-20 tokens to get access to the test network, its test tokens and the associated apps such as the wallet and network participation app (NPA). This includes building and deploying agents, either through software development in Python, C++ or other supported languages or through the drag-and-drop type interface the NPA enables. You’ll also need test tokens to develop synergetic computing applications, decentralised applications and other smart contracts that can deliver predictions or other services to agents on the network. Through the test network, you can see the value that it is possible to create. You’ll be able to experiment with the prices, types of data that can be of value and contribute to the growing collective intelligence the test network builds as more and more people develop for it. Test tokens themselves are not tradable and have no outside value, but are necessary to build and test the decentralised applications of the future.

2. ERC-20 tokens entitle you to airdrops and bounties
Fetch.AI understand and appreciate the value of bounty programs and air-dropping further ERC-20 tokens as a way of building and rewarding the growing community. Airdrops encourage those holding tokens to continue to do so, to both grow their token count but also as a way of providing longer-term engagement that encourages ongoing opportunities for people to spot ways of using their unique experience and knowledge to gain value from the network. Bounty programs are a direct “you did X, you get Y” engagement: find a security bug? You get this. You built an agent that delivers value? A synergetic computing deployment that lets everyone organise their calendars, or plan routes? An agent that delivers travel predictions? Lovely: you’re contributing to Fetch.AI, and we’re designing a bounty program to reward you.

3. ERC-20 tokens will convert to main-net tokens
Of course, the easiest way of getting main-net tokens at the end of 2019 is to hold ERC-20 tokens. There will be a special service that securely converts these tokens over a period of time that is likely to be around six months. Once FET is decoupled from its carrier network and the full Fetch.AI network is active, it can grow independently. This is very important as it provides a measurement of utility value and having this operating in a way that is not affected by another network is key to allowing this utility to grow. The conversion process is another area where mechanisms like airdrops and bounties will be used to incentivise prompt conversion by delivering opportunities to gain additional tokens by holding main network, fully converted tokens.

4. ERC-20 tokens let you play
Play, poke, experiment, look under rocks: ERC-20 lets you play, safely and without boundaries, on the test network. Try anything, lose nothing: you’re free to use test tokens to try anything that’s in your imagination. Attach agents to things. Anything. See what happens. Let the network figure out how it can be used by others. There is a whole new digital world out there to explore.

“Exploration is the engine that drives innovation. Innovation drives economic growth. So let’s all go exploring.”
– Edith Widder, Marine Biologist.

In all four of the cases above (and the many others that will emerge in the coming months), the reward is further ERC-20 tokens. These grow everyone’s interest in the Fetch.AI platform, increase the amount of tokens in circulation, but most importantly: these are tokens that are in use, not just sitting in a wallet gathering dust. The ERC-20 token is therefore a key, for the present, and for the future. It’s about encouraging you to come and build with us: a thriving, active, innovative development community building decentralised applications, new classes of AI and enabling new ways of interacting with the world around us.

We are incredibly excited about the coming year. We’ve built a platform that is new: an economic internet, optimised for digital entities to get things done in vast numbers. It’s a platform to make your life easier, to hide life’s increasing complexity, to allow solutions to grand problems to emerge from the interactions of many parts. What we imagine can be done is a drop in the ocean compared to what our community will imagine. Whole new classes of decentralised applications, artificial intelligence systems and value utilisation are on the cusp of being invented and Fetch.AI will be working hard alongside the community to enable this.

Here’s to 2019 and changing the world: let’s BUIDL!