Fetch.ai AMA with CEO Humayun Sheikh

Sep 11, 2019

Fetch.AI was pleased to take part in a live AMA with Coin98 on Facebook yesterday. Coin98 is a cryptocurrency research group based in Vietnam that is committed to sharing updates about blockchain and associated technologies with its community of more than 10,000 active cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

We’ve included a selection of questions from the AMA here:

What inspired you to develop Fetch.AI? What’s the biggest benefit for everyone?
I, along with my fellow co-founders, have discussed the ideas behind Fetch.AI for many years before we found the technology combination that would deliver it. We believe in a more efficient, optimized and decentralized world where identity, value and utility are returned to the individual and where collective knowledge is available to all users of the network. It turns the world into building blocks of exciting new businesses. The world is complex and underutilized: we simplify it and make better use of what we have.

Are you working on new partnerships? If yes, in which sector do they operate?
We’re always working on building new partnerships. Fetch.AI’s unique technology allows us to do a lot of interesting things, particularly Synergetic Contracts and the adoption of an agent-based approach. We are always working on existing and new partnerships, and broadly they fall into sectors such as travel, finance, trading and network optimisation.

Is Fetch.AI a permissioned or permissionless system?
It’s a permissionless system. Whilst some aspects involve permission at the start, we believe it is vital that it is truly decentralized and permissionless to get the best advantages of a decentralized approach. Our consensus, for example, uses a unique proof-of-stake mechanism we call Proof of Stake with Unpermissioned Delegation (PoS-uD).

What is the biggest obstacle encountered by Fetch.AI? What have you guys done to overcome that obstacle?
The biggest obstacle at the beginning was having such a grand goal and having to invent the technology necessary to deliver it. Having innovated in the space of ledgers, consensus, autonomous agents, smart contracts and AI, we then need to look at developer adoption and commercial partners. We are planning some very exciting things in the coming months to help developers build on Fetch.AI. Ultimately, the best way to overcome any obstacle is having a great team and a great community. We’re fortunate to have both.

Currently, many projects are using AI protocols. What are the advantages of Fetch.AI compared to its competitors?
You’re right: AI and blockchain are great partners. As technologies, they complement each other perfectly. With Fetch.AI, we use AI throughout: we use it to learn how to connect agents together, to generate trust and reputation, to optimise the network, and much more. On top of that, we enable some really cool stuff with Synergetic Contracts. This includes optimised co-ordination between many parties, which, when it comes to things like ride-sharing, is a game changer. Then there are the agents themselves: they are consumers of AI and can provide AI services to the network, such as predictions, and more. For example, we have used such technology to improve journey optimization and financial predictions.

How can Fetch.AI’s technology be widely applied? What are the challenges of scaling up?
Developer and commercial partner adoption will always be top of that list! We’re investing a lot of time and effort into making the developer experience easier: with so much new stuff including autonomous agents, Synergetic Contracts and more, there will be new approaches. We already have our own virtual machine and our own smart contract language, Etch. We are looking into how we can make it super easy for existing smart contract developers to move to Fetch.AI and take advantage of its new features and capabilities. We’ll have more details on this topic soon.

With commercial partners, we continue to travel the world, talking to, working with and building relationships, prototypes and real stuff with people in multiple industries. We’ve posted a lot of information about this on Twitter, on Telegram and in our blog and newsletter and we’re very excited as to what’s coming up!

What is the difference between Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Useful Proof-of-Work (μPOW)? What advantages does it have over other protocols?
PoW is very cool: it allowed consensus to be reached on adding blocks to a global state regardless of who was trusted or not. But we know that it isn’t energy efficient, as a lot of computing is performed, effectively “rolling dice” to find numbers. It’s hard to do, easy to verify. Proof of Stake is neater (but has its own problems unless those are solved). We wanted to create a scenario where challenges (such as “find this route”) can be posed to miners on the Fetch.AI network and they can process this and receive a fee. This is very cool as miners don’t have to solve the whole problem to get a reward, so it is decentralized, distributed, co-operative problem solving where there are economic benefits to everyone involved. We have achieved this by utilising Synergetic Contracts and useful proof-of-work.

What is Fetch.AI’s main ambition? Does the project have a plan to raise the price of FET tokens?
The most important thing is to deliver. We will do this by delivering from a development perspective and by collaborating with commercial partners. We always focus on this: our team works every day to make this so, and you can see the development side by looking at our GitHub repository. If you are a developer and would like to talk to the team directly, please join our developer Slack channel.

The public sale on Binance Launchpad was a great success. Did you face any difficulties achieving this success?
We worked with Binance for a long time prior to the launchpad event. They looked hard at our code, our team, our history and we found that very comforting!

Which countries is Fetch.AI focusing on for growth? Are markets with huge data sources like India and China your target markets?
Data is hugely underused. When autonomous economic agents can represent data, and be automatically introduced to agents that might want it, we can do three key things:

1) deliver that data fast and effectively
2) reduce the cost of delivering data
3) increase utilization of the data

We spoke to a company recently that generates a petabyte of data every day, and then, after a month, for regulatory reasons, deletes it. When you imagine just how much data globally goes unused as a result…

… so yes, markets with data are really important to us as our technology can help bring it to life and make use of it.

Can privacy features be implemented on the Fetch.AI network?
Privacy is vital. Regulations like GDPR in Europe are just the beginning, and quite rightly so.

With Fetch.AI, agents represent what they have, so the actual data is never on the network. We use technologies like embeddings (e.g., recurrent neural networks) to then position subjects in space so we can identify what is relevant to what without having to know the details. The agents can then transact directly using encryption.

We also value technologies like multi-party computation and homomorphic encryption as ways of allowing people to work on data without having access to it.

What is the role of the FET token in the Fetch.AI ecosystem? What are the benefits to long-term token holders?
FET is a utility token. It is the fuel for autonomous economic agents to get things done, as well as the fuel for smart contracts (including Synergetic Contracts).

How many tokens are the team holding? How can I track the amount?
The information is all available in our Tokenomics paper. This shows the release schedule. Our tokens vest over a period of three years, and we’re HODLers: we believe in Fetch.AI, what it does and what it will do, and our token vesting schedule demonstrates that.

Can you explain how Fetch.AI optimizes decentralized technology?
Decentralization provides numerous benefits. These include scale, computing power, collective ownership, individual ownership of identity, claims made against that identity, and utility value. It also provides robustness: a large population of simple things is more robust than a centralised system made up of fewer, bigger, more complex things. There’s an old saying: the more complex the plumbing, the easier it is to block it up.

I have no doubt about the potential of blockchain technology, nor the long-term success of Fetch.AI as its tech is great. However, when I enter the Fetch.AI Telegram community group, I see some individuals making negative comments about the token price. Do you have any comments about this?
We are working tirelessly to bring Fetch.AI to everyone. We continue to deliver our software on-time and we continue to deliver new commercial partnerships. Markets are complex, living things, and there is no magic switch: we continue to build value in what we do and deliver and we continue to focus on that in a publicly visible way so that our community can share our successes. This builds value, builds utility and grows our community. (Plus, of course, we will always continue to do events like this, answer questions, and engage with the community that we value so highly.)

How does Fetch.AI compete with projects that boast a high number of transactions per second (TPS) and have a directed acyclic graph (DAG) data structure?
We offer high TPS too. We also use a DAG as part of the smart ledger. In a world with potentially billions of agents, all doing lots of small, fast transactions, it’s necessary to support large TPS. Right now, we can push 30,000 TPS through the system but we expect to be able to make it higher. The key thing to remember is that it is needed in the Fetch.AI system, it isn’t just a large number.

For a fledgling industry like blockchain, cooperation is very important. What kind of cooperation did Fetch.AI have, and what are your plans for collaborations in future?
Agreed! Nobody can do this alone. This is like the Internet and the web in the mid-late 90s. We are all learning, innovating, trying exciting new things and we are able to do that better by working with others. Outlier Ventures, for example, built a bridge between Sovrin and Fetch.AI called ANVIL. It’s really cool, it allows agents to assert and confirm verifiable credentials in just a few lines of Python! This means that agents can prove who they are, what they are qualified to do and many other things. Using such technology, decentralized ride-sharing, travel planning, traffic optimization, energy optimization and more becomes possible as the agents can work in a trusted environment where claims can be verified in a machine readable way without human intervention. We continue to work on many such exciting opportunities.

We also work with our commercial partners to build things in the real world. Our list of partners is growing all the time, and we have some cool DeFi things to talk about in the relatively near future too. For example, together with T-Labs, Share&Charge and Bosch, we developed ‘My Easy Charge’ to optimize the charging of electric vehicles. This project was very well received and won Trusted IoT Alliance’s Smart E-Mobility Challenge.

What is your strategy to fund the marketing campaign for Fetch.AI that will be needed to gain visibility and build a user base?
We’re working hard to build our community and presence in countries where there is such incredible support for decentralized technology and what it means and enables — especially in places such as Vietnam.

How does Fetch.AI plan on funding the future cost of running the foundation and paying wages to their large team? Will you set up any sustaining treasury?
We are consulting with some exciting partners on making our governance very, very strong. We’re proud of what we propose and we are not doing this alone. We want to ensure that Fetch.AI is set up for decades to come.

What is Fetch.AI’s Open Economic Framework (OEF) function?
It acts as a gateway between agents and the decentralized network: it provides agents with the intelligence, trust and reputation information necessary to find and transact with other agents. It’s a decentralized world using decentralized learning and knowledge. It is unique to Fetch.AI.

Are you working on considering establishing cross-chain interactions for Fetch.AI?
Yes: we always knew we couldn’t, and shouldn’t, do this alone. We originally documented things called “bridging agents” which connect different networks together so that they can use their collective capabilities.

Are you confident that you will launch the Main Network by the end of the year?
Yes, we are confident. Release of the alpha mainnet was on time, pre-beta was on time and beta remains on schedule for the end of this month. So development wise, we are on target. Also, we have staking launching very soon.