Humayun Sheikh is the Founder & CEO at Fetch.ai which is at the forefront of accelerating research and deployment of emerging technologies, including blockchain and AI. Its solutions are designed for people, organizations, and IoT. The project has created an Open Economic Framework (OEF) that serves as a decentralized search and a value exchange platform for various autonomous economic agents. This is supported by a smart ledger which is ready to meet the demands of the next generation of connected devices. Fetch.ai has digital intelligence at its heart: delivering actionable predictions, instant trust information, enabling the construction of powerful collaborative models, improving efficiencies and streamlining processes.
Political, environmental and social events in recent years have sown the seeds for dramatically changing the way in which we work. Then 2020 came along, said “Hold my Beer”, and potentially changed the economy, the way we travel, socialise and what we value in such a way that it may take years before we see anything we’d have thought was normal. Indeed, there are many that now believe that the world cannot and should not return to where it was before, as it is unsustainable and simply economically inefficient. The rapid changes in our lives have shown the value of being able to adapt fast, without having to navigate a centralised hierarchy, and in a robust, safe and secure way. It is this that is throwing the limelight on decentralised systems.
Future business, particularly mobility, logistics, healthcare and financial, will need to embrace a decentralised approach in order to be able to adapt and scale safely. Centralised command and control is brittle, inflexible and takes time as the entire command structure must change at the same time. As each of the individual pieces of the system are conducted in this environment, the risk of autonomy is high: any unilateral decisions made can cause significant collateral damage if the entire surrounding structure is not fully aware of what is going on.
Centralised businesses are also a failure to provide common economic building blocks. This is especially clear in modern “service introduction companies”, such as ride-sharing, travel booking and food delivery companies. They exist in isolation, unable to connect to each other, and do not take advantage of the value and capabilities that exist at the edges of the network: from the value providers themselves.
Decentralised networks, coupled with verifiable credentials and other cryptographic technologies, can connect those that deliver value to those that want it, seamlessly, without a centralised third party, and do so in a trusted environment. A single, shared global state provides a record of who did what and when, and verifiable credentials can establish that all the individual parties are who they say they are. Furthermore, there is no longer a need for these active, autonomous parties to be human, or to be isolated in their own “genre”. Companies can be combined, so that services such as route planning can be shared, allowing network inefficiencies such as congestion to be optimised out of the network. Parking, charging, pick-ups and drop-offs can all be integrated into one, seamless, commonly owned resource, providing a smarter and more effective utilisation of assets. The incentive mechanisms in such a system ensure that the value that users can extract is considerably more than the sum of its parts, leading to an avoidance of the tragedy of commons that can otherwise happen with unregulated shared resources.
Finance is a particular area that benefits from the flexible, high-speed, safely adaptable world of decentralisation. With instantaneous account creation, inherited and/or automated KYC/AML, ease of cross-border settlement, and a self-service permanent record of actions, it lends itself perfectly to being spread out over such networks. As the individual parts that make up financial instruments are turned into autonomous, digital entities (true autonomous agents), they can conduct themselves safely without taking down the orchestra around them. The combinations of such parts, rearranged in different ways — in real-time — will lead to substantial leaps in the ability to offer individually tailored products in a world that urgently needs to move from the general to the specific . For too long, we’ve worked on a one-size-fits-all approach because it is too costly to present an optimal solution to each individual problem, but autonomous agents existing on a decentralised platform are building blocks for a solution: they can connect to each other and interact with no prior knowledge, and do so both reliably and securely, enabling custom arrangements for individual solutions. For the first time in a long time, consumers will regain control, and have the world deliver services that will feel — and be — packaged just for them.
Fetch.ai is building a bridge between the old economy and the new economy: providing the underlying network, the collective intelligence, and the technology for building new solutions. It has developed an agent-based system to enable deployment of solutions in the mobility space, on-demand creation of liquidity and instruments for commodity trading and an innovative new lending platform for real-world assets. The collective intelligence is available to all users of the network, and benefits all decentralised finance applications, without compromising private or confidential data. Business is no longer a zero-sum game, and the knowledge that would otherwise pass us by is captured for the benefit of all.
One thing is certain: tomorrow will not be like yesterday. The world will never be the same again, but it can be better. Technologies like those developed at Fetch.ai are pioneering new approaches to help us navigate uncertain times, building towards an adaptive, efficient and better future for us all.