Toby Simpson participates in WeChat AMA with Sky.io

Mar 6, 2020

Yesterday, Fetch.ai CTO Toby Simpson sat down with the Sky.io community to discuss our technology and the wider AI and blockchain sector.

1. Greetings Toby. How does Fetch.ai use artificial intelligence and deep learning? What kind of problems does it aim to solve, and what is the main direction and scope of its applications?

Our focus is on enhancing and optimizing solutions to everyday problems through intelligent data sharing; creating value by combining knowledge, insights and predictions using machine learning and AI.

We are delivering an innovative platform with open source tools for intelligent communication between IoT devices, services and algorithms to enable collective learning. Built on a high throughput sharded ledger, the Fetch.ai architecture delivers a unique smart contract capability to deploy ML/AI solutions for decentralized problem solving.

Let’s face it, computers are dumb, and it’s our problem to use them correctly to solve our everyday problems: finding things, coordinating travel, moving house, organizing work, making the best out of the available services. We believe technology should do all this for you: orchestrating all of this complexity, and delivering usable answers directly to you to solve problems according to your preferences. This is what collective intelligence can do, and do much more. Fetch.ai delivers that for the first time, intelligently connecting all the parts together to solve problems. Making your life easier.

2. What advantages do you think AI and blockchain has? What are the future prospects for the technology?

AI and blockchain are great partners and together can be more than the sum of their considerable parts. As technologies, they complement each other perfectly. At 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 our AI-powered blockchain smart contracts.

This includes optimized coordination between many parties, which, when it comes to things like ride-sharing, is a game changer. Then there are our autonomous 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 (again, using technology to make your life better).

There are numerous projects working to develop solutions using blockchain and AI. It’s an exciting space to be working in as we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the possibilities the convergence of these technologies will enable: blockchain gives AI scale, access to data, and the autonomy to evolve and adapt to a rapidly changing world.

3. Compared to traditional Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Proof-of-Work (PoW), what are the advantages of Fetch.ai’s consensus mechanism?

PoW is very cool: it allows consensus to be reached on adding blocks to a global state — regardless of who is trusted. However, it isn’t energy efficient, as a lot of computing must be performed. It’s effectively “rolling dice” to find numbers. It’s hard to do, but easy to verify.

Proof of Stake is better, but it comes with its own inherent problems. Fetch.ai has solved these problems with our innovative consensus protocol that we refer to as Proof-of-Stake with unpermissioned Delegation (PoS-uD). One of the problems with current protocols is that projects adopt flawed economics. Our smart ledger has been designed from the bottom-up with sound economic principles combined with technical innovations. These developments are aimed at driving user adoption in the short term and supporting our ambitions for the agent economy in the future.

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. Miners don’t have to solve the whole problem in order to receive a reward, so the solution requires decentralized, distributed, co-operative problem solving where there are economic benefits to everyone involved.

4. The combination of blockchain and DAG can improve the throughput of the ledger, but will lead to the double-spend problem. What is the advantage of Fetch.ai’s sharded resource lane model compared with the traditional smart ledger?

Fetch.ai resolves the double-spend problem by utilizing resource lanes. For a valid transaction to occur, all of the transactions within a slice cannot affect overlapping resources. This ensures they can be safely executed in parallel. It is this — safe — parallel execution that provides incredible performance.

The design of our ledger enables removal of all the potential bottlenecks on throughput. The ledger is able to increase or decrease the number of lanes in order to meet changes in demand, so it adapts quickly.

The high throughput, strict ordering and rapid finality of transactions make the ledger an effective platform for delivering cheaper and more expressive smart contracts: you can do more, with less!

5. Why do we need your new smart contract language, Etch?

Different problems require different tools. Although Solidity is the most commonly used smart contract language, there are many benefits to using Etch. Etch is the world’s first smart contract language to provide extensive support for machine learning tasks and advanced optimization, for example.

Etch is also created especially for our unique ledger. It also includes built-in sharding support, and a lot more. We have an online tool to help people experiment with Etch, and lots of tutorials to help people try things out, such as creating your own tokens, and machine learning programs. It’s all on our website.

6. What is an Autonomous Economic Agent (AEA)? What’s unique about it?

An AEA (or agent for short) is an intelligent program operating on an owner’s behalf, with limited or no interference of that ownership entity, and whose goal is to generate economic value for its owner. Agents can be used to represent real-world objects, people or assets in a digital space and enable them to find each other and transact quickly and efficiently. These agents will enable the billions of devices in the Internet of Things to communicate seamlessly, autonomously and securely.

7. How does the Search and Discovery mechanism work?

This is a very, very important part of the project.

It is the intelligent connection bit: it enables relevant agents to find each other. Agents looking for things are able to do decentralized searches to find them, and other agents that represent things are able to advertise their services to agents that might be interested in having them.

Agents exchange value using FET tokens, which are also used to pay for the search and discovery services. Agents can negotiate with each other, by themselves, and then generate value for their owners. This search and discovery layer is all about contextual connections: allowing agents to search by location, by subject, and to actively connect to other relevant agents. It’s a powerful concept and unique to Fetch.ai.

8. Fetch.ai seeks to develop a completely decentralized digital economic world. But currently artificial intelligence and machine learning technology cannot support efficient data collection and many devices are not yet connected to each other. How does Fetch.ai plan to find a solution?

You’re right — the world isn’t ready to adopt tomorrow all of the seismic changes our technology will enable. However, given that Cisco predicts that by 2030 500 billion devices are expected to be connected to the Internet, the world will soon be in even greater need of finding a way to utilize the mountains of data we are all generating every day. Our unique AI, machine learning and blockchain technology is designed to provide the infrastructure for this. We are proud of our open-source technology and we will continue to work with developers and major partners to build the Fetch.ai platform. The release of our mainnet in December 2019 and the activity of autonomous agents on the network shows the progress we have already made.

9. What real-world solutions are improved by Fetch.ai’s technology? How do they work?

Anything that’s big and complex can potentially be improved and optimized using Fetch. This includes:

* Transportation and mobility
* Healthcare
* Energy
* Smart cities

And a lot of finance applications, too.

It’s about making better use of what we have: making our existing systems adapt faster to our changing needs.

Smart cities are a big thing right now and we have already demonstrated how Fetch.ai can make a difference in real-world trials. One example is parking: with Fetch.ai autonomous agents, your vehicle and the parking spaces are represented by agents. The network connects them together, they negotiate, and you are guided to the parking space. Everything is seamlessly automatic. It’s powerful because all these agents working together can also deal with electric car charging and congestion *at the same time*.

10. What is Fetch.ai’s staking mechanism?

There are three ways to stake FET tokens:

(1) You can take part in the staking auction directly on our staking website: https://staking.fetch.ai.

The minimum amount required to take part directly is 200,000 FET

Rewards: 7,500 FET per validator slot per month (this amount will increase linearly with circulating token supply).

(2) You can delegate your stake to a pool on our staking website:

https://staking.fetch.ai

Minimum amount: 1 FET

Pool participants never need to worry about running a validator node, they are delegating their FET tokens to someone else who will take part in the auction on their behalf.

Rewards: The yield is fixed (depending on the pool you choose to join). The Fetch.ai pool guarantees a 10% annual return.

(3) If you hold FET tokens on Binance, you will receive monthly staking rewards.

Minimum amount: 25 FET

Rewards: The yield will be less than participating directly in the auction or delegating your tokens to a pool: https://www.binance.com/en/staking/products/330e1f619be84b098e8e91bdf8c4fc17

11. Which exchanges is Fetch.ai currently listed on?

The FET token is currently listed on a range of exchanges including Binance, Bitmax, KuCoin, CoinAll, Coinsuper, Korbit and Crypto.com.

12. The Fetch.ai mainnet was launched in December last year. Can you give us an update on your progress? How can the Chinese community participate in the project?

It has been an incredibly exciting start to the decade. We recently revealed the results of a trial we conducted with our partners at Warwick Business School. The results showed our autonomous agents could reduce daily energy costs at Warwick University’s student campus by 13–18%. We also co-organized and participated at the Blockchain for Europe Summit at the European Parliament in Brussels. The event featured numerous European policymakers, leaders of industry and blockchain specialists.

Last month we were proud to unveil our cryptographic breakthrough that improves security and dramatically reduces the time it takes for transactions to be confirmed. We believe that this innovation transforms how PoS works. You can read the paper here.

The support of the Chinese community is hugely important to us. We would encourage people who would like to learn more about us to join our Chinese Telegram channel or join us on WeChat.

The most important thing that we at Fetch can do is keep building, and keep delivering. And we are here, every day, working hard to bring our vision to life. We are in the top ten projects world-wide for development activity, and we continue to form new partnerships. As this year progresses, we are delivering our commodities exchange, some really interesting decentralized finance projects, and a LOT of work in the transport space.

We are not doing this alone. We are lucky to have an incredible community, and a lot of supporters, and we’re proud of them, and what we have achieved.

Below we have included a selection of other topics that were discussed during the AMA:

Fetch.ai has adopted blockchain architecture, DAG and sharding technology. Can these things really be achieved?

Yes, these technologies can be achieved, and we have successfully managed to do so. You can see our working software on Github and you can, of course, download our technology and run it yourself.

The project’s vision is very good, but data remains an expensive resource. How can data be run on Fetch.ai’s platform?

Data is very valuable, but it is hard to use all of it. A lot of data has a short shelf life, in that it is relevant right now, but is useless as time goes by. Fetch.ai helps this because it allows the data to *sell itself*. The problem with data marketplaces is that you have to know you want the data, and know where to find it. With Fetch.ai, it comes to you. This means more data gets used, and its utility increases.

Where did the inspiration to solve the problem of information islands using artificial intelligence come from?

That is an interesting question! Information islands are collections of data that could be shared, but are not able to be. We look at how agents can represent that to get the availability of data published, and encourage others who might find it useful to use it. It also allows lots of small pieces of information to be combined (using machine learning, for example) into higher level knowledge that has even more value. AI and ML love data, but it has to be relevant for learning, and our network is very, very good at connecting things together.

How does the team plan to increase the market value of FET tokens?

We are working on this every single day. The entire team is developing, building, deploying, and more. We will continue to grow the market for FET with the ongoing results of this work, and we continue to share our successes on our blog, our Twitter account, and on other social media channels. This is our dream, and we will not stop until it is a reality!

Around 17% of the total Fetch.ai tokens are used for sales, while the team, Foundation and consultants combined account for around 50%. Added to this, mining accounts for around 15%. The distribution of tokens is therefore relatively centralized. Is there any risk of centralization? If so, is this contrary to the decentralized spirit of the project?

It’s a good question. Ultimately, all of the tokens end up in circulation as per the token release schedule. We do not want to create a centralized system: we want something that is fully decentralized, has world-class governance, and is able to deliver the protocol going forwards. The team’s tokens, incidentally, are vesting over three years. You can find what’s happening to them on the blockchain, and you will see that we are HODLing these tokens. This is the same for the Foundation and our consultants — tokens will vest over a three year period.

It is vital that Fetch.ai is a fully decentralized protocol that is owned, controlled and operated by its users, and not by us. It’s a journey to get there, but we are advanced in that journey and it continues each and every day.

Can you tell us how Fetch.ai is working to remain ahead of its rivals?

This is a great space to be in, and it’s good to have competition. Many of the solutions of the future will come from different protocols and technologies working together, and finding new ways of doing things. Our autonomous agents, and the Search and Discovery mechanism that connects them, is largely unique in the blockchain space. We’re using AI to act as a “dating agency” to connect things together, and then allowing those things to do business.

We’ve innovated in consensus and many other areas to do that, so we’re largely doing something different. But we love some of the great technology out there, and we’re working to ensure that some of our great agent stuff can work and integrate with other protocols, too.

When will Fetch.ai’s decentralized metal exchange start operating?

I don’t have a precise answer for you right now, but I can tell you that we have made *incredible progress* and the results are very, very exciting. We’re looking forward to being able to share details about it very soon!

Will the Bitcoin halving affect Fetch.ai?

I don’t think that the Bitcoin halving affects us, but of course, it does affect the market as a whole. If there is one thing that we know about how the market works, it is that we don’t know how the market works! This is why we focus our attention on delivering. No matter what happens, if we continue to deliver genuine utility for the FET token, we are driving its use.