An AI startup including original pioneers from DeepMind – the generalised artificial intelligence company acquired by Google for around $500 million – has roared out of stealth with a pledge to revolutionise the digital economy.
Fetch.ai, based at St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge, has been operating in stealth since foundation in 2016 and is also spearheaded by economics and cyber security professors from Cambridge and Sheffield Universities.
Its starting premise is that today’s digital economy is disconnected, with assets such as hotel rooms and cars drastically under-utilised and systems such as transport and energy networks poorly optimised.
Fetch.ai today launches its vision for a ‘decentralised digital world’ that combines Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for the first time to deliver a self-organising framework for new and emerging types of economic interactions.
Fetch.ai provides the tools necessary for a wide range of professional and enthusiast developers to build Autonomous Agents that inhabit the Fetch digital world, agents might act on behalf of consumers or companies and can be designed to address almost any task.
The underlying ‘smart ledger’ contains several world first innovations including built-in AI, a new Useful Proof of Work consensus mechanism and a unique data structure that combines blockchain and Directed Acyclic Graph architecture to achieve the performance and scalability necessary to support millions of agents transacting together.
CTO Toby Simpson explains: “Autonomous Economic Agents are set to revolutionise commerce. They’re digital entities that can transact independently of human intervention and can represent people, machines or themselves.
“Imagine a world that connects anything to anything and everything to everything, where data, services and information get up on their own two feet and deliver themselves with incredible precision.
“The Fetch digital world acts as the ultimate value exchange dating agency: each AI agent sees a space optimised in real-time just for them, where the important things are right there.
“Autonomous agents can work together or alone to build solutions to life’s complex problems by joining a disparate array of potentially useful data and services into one, seamless experience.”
According to CEO Humayun Sheikh such an approach is increasingly necessary to address the inefficiency inherent to today’s economy: “Today’s centralised systems and marketplaces result in silos and there isn’t a means to enable complex economic activity.
“We’ve built a decentralised and open system to solve this: for AI to interface with AI on both sides of an economic transaction. For the first time Fetch delivers a self-organising digital world that enables the discoverability of data for decision making, the trading of excess capacity, energy, computation, or the storage, transfer and transportation of digital or physical assets.
“When you have a decentralised collective intelligence and AI operating in the right environment, which our open network provides, an autonomous system like Fetch can solve problems before they even arise.”
Enabled by a range of significant innovations and underpinned by the world’s first ‘smart ledger’, the Fetch decentralised digital world includes:-
- A smart ledger that borrows elements from blockchain and Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) to scale to millions of transactions per second at near zero cost.
- A new consensus mechanism called Useful Proof of Work, which means that unlike traditional blockchains the Proof of Work computing needed to secure the network isn’t abstract. Instead it is redeployed to perform the machine learning tasks that give the ledger its intelligence.
- An Open Economic Framework that enables autonomous agents to thrive in a decentralised system, which is an example of Agent based Computational Economics in practice.
- Collective Super Intelligence that increases in line with usage of the Fetch network to deliver information AEAs can use to more efficiently seek out relevant economic exchange opportunities.
Jamie Burke, CEO of VC firm Outlier Ventures explains why he has been backing Fetch since 2016: “For the first time we can genuinely say we have not smart contracts but instead a smart ledger. To date, blockchains haven’t been capable of even rudimentary intelligence and anyone wanting to use today’s dumb ledgers for anything complex, dynamic or predictive has been left severely wanting.
“Fetch’s unique blend of ledger technology borrows from blockchains and innovations in Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) to deliver high performance, at near zero cost, transactions but with a brand new consensus mechanism called Useful Proof-of-Work. Its applications are vast.”
The Fetch.ai decentralised digital world is already up and running today in an early form with a number of Autonomous Economic Agents already busily navigating this new environment.
The truly autonomous system enables AI to buy and sell a variety of digital assets, from or to another AI, with contracts, payments and execution all handled automatically.
Fetch.ai plans to provide code on Github and announce a range of corporate partnerships over the coming months.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: CTO Toby Simpson
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