Fetch.ai CTO Toby Simpson holds AMA with Vietnam Blockchain Community

Oct 7, 2019

On Thursday 3 October, Fetch.ai CTO Toby Simpson took part in a Telegram AMA with blockchain and cryptocurrency enthusiasts in Vietnam. Thanks to everyone who got involved. As ever, we received more questions than Toby was able to answer! We’ve included some of the best bits of the Q&A below. If you have a question for the team, please feel free to ask it in our Telegram channel.

Why are Fetch.ai headquarters located in Cambridge in the UK? Does this help you to work with interesting students and professors?
The Fetch.ai co-founders are from Cambridge in the UK and are very well connected to the tech community in the city. Cambridge is home to one of the best universities in the world, and it enables us to form partnerships and hire the best people in the country.

What is your plan to make Fetch.ai one of the top projects?
Keep building.
Keep delivering.
Keep engaging.

The Fetch.ai network achieves something unique. Autonomous economic agents and the technology that connects them is incredibly powerful. We’re turning the world inside out: so that we can get emergent solutions to complex problems. Our background in AI, AL, ML, agent-based systems, digital worlds, large-scale digital and physical economies, trading, supply chains and more is the perfect foundation for delivering this. We’re proud of the code we’ve built, we’re proud of the innovations, and we’re deeply proud of the solutions we’re building with it. We continue to deliver, we continue to make it happen and we will continue to engage with and support all those who are building using the Fetch.ai network.

What is special about the three layers of technology that you use?
At the base is the smart ledger. This provides integrity and scalability. It powers smart and Synergetic Contracts and it gives the raw transaction throughput needed in a world of potentially billions of agents. The data it has allows the layer above, the Open Economic Framework (OEF), to construct real-time trust and reputation, as well as delivering — amongst many things — a huge digital world for agents to get work done. Those two layers are what the Fetch.ai architecture is, and they enable the autonomous agents on top to connect, find each other, and conduct useful activity. Collectively, it delivers intelligent connections, and collective intelligence to make sense of those connections.

Can you please explain more about the decentralization aspect of Fetch.ai’s technology?
Fetch.ai is unpermissioned. It is truly decentralized: from our consensus, through our ledger and all the technology on top. This is important for growth, trust and more. We also have an incentive for further decentralization through light nodes that exist to support agents: they increase the resolution and capabilities of the network and receive rewards from providing services to agents.

You can find out more information about our technology by visiting the publications section of our website.

What are the major differences between Smart Contracts and Synergetic Contracts?
Synergetic Contracts allow on and offchain computing to be combined. This allows many to receive rewards for contributing small parts to solve bigger problems. Large scale optimization problems, for example, are able to be solved collectively, in a scalable way, and delivered to everyone. When it comes to things like route planning, optimization of asset locations and more, this is perfect: it can be shared by many, combined into new business ideas and everyone is rewarded.

Which changes have been made from the initial development plan for Fetch.ai?
We have not made any changes to the plan and we are delivering on all the milestones we promised. Considering the complex architecture and technology we are building, this is pretty special. All our code is in C++. It’s high performance, resource efficient and it’s a massive enabling framework for new applications. It brings economic Lego to the table!

In your opinion how important is community support to the success of the project?
Community support is vital.

Our community and our developers are one of the most important assets that we can possibly have: they are the supporters, they are out there telling people about Fetch.ai, what it can do, why it’s unique and why it’s important. Success and growth are dependent on the community. We will continue to make huge efforts in communicating directly with our community (in events like this AMA), and also visiting conferences, DevCons and meetups across the globe. It makes a huge difference to be able to interact with everyone directly.

In the current bear market, what is the team’s plan to encourage investors to hold FET tokens long-term?
We believe in delivering on all of our technical and commercial milestones and we are confident that we will. Of course, we will continue to keep our long-term supporters and hodlers of FET aware of our progress.

It’s great news that Fetch.ai has announced a partnership with Turkish steel manufacturers to create a decentralized metals exchange. But will there be legal issues regarding blockchain transactions and will steel traders face tax complications?
Turkey is one of the most receptive countries to digital currency in the world and there is plenty of governmental support available. However, what is to be made clear is that it is not about crypto, but actually being able to use ML/AI in such a way that it creates liquidity in illiquid markets, making it easier to carry out transactions. This in no way involves tax avoidance and all tax issues can be dealt with in accordance with the country’s legal framework.

What is PoS-uD? Why did Fetch.ai choose PoS-uD over Pow?
Good question! PoW is very wasteful. We wanted to be able to use the network’s computing power to do something grander: to “crunch the numbers” on AI and learning so that we could effectively connect agents together, and provide them with the trust and reputation information they need to work in a trusted, safe environment. PoS has its own limitations, and we believe that our Proof-of-Stake with unpermissioned Delegation (Pos-uD) scheme resolves these. It is fair, it is inclusive, and it does not encourage or incentivize centralized control over consensus.

Are you considering making cross-chain interaction possible on Fetch.ai?
Cross-chain interaction is important. We know that we cannot, and should not, do this alone. There are so many exciting technologies in this space that have something to offer Fetch.ai — and vice versa. We are doing this in several ways, one of which is using special, bridging autonomous economic agents that provide an interface to translate between two technologies. ArBot is a good example of this.

Do you have plans to implement privacy on the Fetch.ai network?
Privacy is super, super important. One of the great promises of decentralization was “be your own bank”. Well, it’s more than that. It’s be your own bank, own your own identity, own the claims you make against it and control your own utility value. In a network like Fetch.ai, we can deliver all of that: this alone is a huge contribution to privacy, as your stuff is yours and never leaves you unless you permit it.

Of course, there’s more. In Europe, we have GDPR, and these are good, solid, fair privacy and data protection rules. We have built Fetch.ai from the start to deal with this architecturally and through technology. Autonomous agents, for example, represent what they have or want, so Fetch.ai never stores or sees the data, just representations (which AI uses to figure out what’s close to what for introduction purposes). When two agents do business, they do so with encrypted data.

We also support privacy preserving computing, so MPC/homomorphic encryption, for example, and more. All of this allows (particularly with our Synergetic Contracts) the many to contribute small parts to a bigger solution without seeing what might be private data.

It’s all very exciting!

The connection of IoT devices using autonomous agents will lead to the development of smart cities. However, it could also enable citizens to be observed 24/7. Could Fetch.ai’s technology be misused by government officials?
The problem you mention is one of the reasons why Fetch.ai’s platform is different. We connect and compute using privacy-preserving protocols which do not allow anyone’s privacy to be put at risk. Remember: decentralization moves control from the centre to the edges of the network. In a Fetch.ai world, more of what’s important to you belongs to, and is controlled by, you.

How is Fetch.ai different from Kambria in terms of AI technology?
AI, blockchain technology etc., are not solutions themselves. They are components, which when combined, allow us to do amazing things. AI is integral to Fetch.ai from top to bottom: our network both uses and enables AI. We use it to create content-based views that let us seamlessly figure out which agents should be talking to which agents. In a world of potentially billions of agents, we reduce it to just a few. It also lets us deliver trust and reputation. And our Synergetic Contracts enable incredible optimization problems to be collectively solved and delivered to all users of the network. On top of this, AI inside agents themselves delivers predictions, knowledge and insights about the world, both inside and outside Fetch.ai, and delivers it to the network’s users. So I guess when it comes to allowing for innovation, yes, there might be some similarities on the surface to Kambria and other AI projects, but deeper down, we’re solving a different problem: we are reducing complexity and allowing large-scale problems to learn how to solve themselves.

What function does the FET token have in the ecosystem?
FET is the fuel that agents use to get things done. It also powers Fetch.ai’s unique Synergetic Contracts and is the method of value exchange for all users of the network. It is central to some really exciting new applications, such as the announcement yesterday about our upcoming AI-powered decentralized metals exchange.

We’re only just beginning. We’re developing a world where agents are trading with agents, all without human intervention, getting useful work done to transform information and deliver it to where it needs to be.

Alongside Ripple, NEM, and EMURGO/Cardano, you co-founded Blockchain for Europe. What is the purpose of this organization?
We believe that we should engage directly with regulators and legislators. They are anxious to create a safe environment for people to work and grow this technology, and together, we can guide and influence policy for the benefit of everyone. This is a delicate issue: too much regulation gets in the way of innovation, slowing it down and tying it up before it has had a chance to grow and explore. Conversely, insufficient regulation creates an unsafe market that is damaging to everyone. We talk directly because it helps us all in an area that is changing rapidly and presenting exciting new opportunities almost every day.

What was the underlying purpose of your presence at the recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Blockchain Policy Forum?
The OECD policy forum was great to visit. We were there as part of our work with Blockchain for Europe and it’s important to engage and be part of the policy discussions that are taking place.

What are you aiming to build with Fetch.ai and how are you progressing towards achieving this vision?
For an example of the things that we can build, see above for information about the decentralized metals exchange. There’s more to come too: we’re working on some very exciting examples of how this technology can integrate into supply chains across the world, and do so non-destructively. For example, Fetch.ai can be trialed alongside existing solutions, making it easy for people to see the benefit of this approach without having to take so much of the risk. Transportation, mobility, hospitality, etc. are fantastic examples where inefficiency is a big problem.

But on top of everything, we’re looking at disintermediating the economy: removing the centralized digital middlemen, and connecting the value provider to those that want that value directly. And with technologies like verifiable credentials this could be transformational. For example, we’ve already demonstrated how Sovrin’s technology can be used to allow Fetch.ai agents to work in a trusted environment and we’re working to develop more examples like this.

With regards to progress: we’re on target. We’ve launched our beta mainnet and we are making a bunch of great announcements. We’re also building many more things and demonstrating how Synergetic Contracts and autonomous agents can make a huge difference.

What do you think is the biggest problem for Fetch.ai to solve?
Developer adoption is an area we are addressing and we’re working on some pretty exciting ways of doing this. We’re attending more DevCons and hackathons (like Diffusion 2019 later this month in Berlin) and turning up in force to help people develop exciting things. We are producing a growing range of great examples, and working to make it easier and easier for people to build agents and Synergetic Contracts. We’re always very happy to support anyone who is building things on Fetch.ai.

Following the launch of the mainnet later this year, what new features will the Fetch.ai network have?
We have a roadmap that stretches out many years into the future. Key in early 2020 will be new AL/ML functionality and also updates to the agents’ environment: connecting them more effectively and learning how those connections work for the benefit of other network users.