devcon3, the annual developers conference of the Ethereum Foundation has been taking place in Cancun (MX) last week. We attended to get first-hand updates about the state of the Ethereum platform and ecosystem and to learn more about recent developments and projects that would help us to design and build the Finance4.0 prototype. To see the whole agenda, go here.
The first interesting domain is CryptoEconomics. There are no commonly accepted definitions of the term yet. Most people use the term to describe the cryptography and economics of an incentive system within a decentralized application. Karl Floersch gave an interesting introductory session stressing the possibilities of cryptoeconomic design to encourage "good outcomes" (e.g. decentralized control, trusted execution) and discourage "bad outcomes" (e.g. censorship, central control). We are in very early stages in this new field, so one of the key messages was that such designs can hardly be designed standalone. You need to follow an iterative approach and test designs with "real people". An interesting entity in this space is Austria-based RIAT - the institute for research, development, communication and education in the fields of cryptoeconomics and the blockchain. RIAT does research and education and also plans to publish a journal on cryptoeconomics.
Two exciting projects that are very close to FuturICT2 were present at the conference .. The REGEN Network describes itself as a "Network of planetary regeneration". They enable farmers who - by doing their normal farming work - to create/mine tokens to create a proven digital representation of the carbon drawdown they caused. Carbon levels are measured by special sensors and fed into the system. The cryptoeconomics are designed to align the interests of the divers landscape of stakeholders involved. See their white paper for more information. The second project, IPCI, aims to build a DAO for carbon markets, environmental assets and liabilities. The MITO, the mitigation token, they are designing has a "universal underlying asset – the right to emit 1 tCO2e". An interesting side features is an API that allows users to integrate CO2 compensation (buying carbon credit) on their own websites.
Finally, as we intend to use Ethereum as our development platform for the demonstrator, it was interesting to hear about the latest efforts to mature the platform. There are two competing proposals for "Casper", the gradual switch from energy-intense proof-of-work to faster (and cheaper) proof-of-stake. One championed by Vlad Zamfir is .... The other, championed by Vitalik Buterin is .... The other hot topic is scalability of the network. Raiden, the off-chain scalability solution promising very low fees in addition presented a nice proof-of-concept in which a little robot car was moving live on stage - simply triggered by small payments made through the Raiden network. Unfortunately, all these projects to enhance the Ethereum platform are still 1-2 years from production use as the project leads explained.
03 Nov 2017, Marcus Dapp