The full article was originally published by AKITA on Medium. Read the full article here.
The rapid evolution of technology and machines effects all of us, whether we like, dislike or don’t even realize it. There are already more than 3 smart devices for every human being on this planet, tendency growing…
We at AKITA have made it our mission to focus on building tangible prototypes. Instead of being stuck in a theoretical loop of debating, we want to see, touch and experience what combinations of new technologies, machines and human interaction are capable of. During our journey through the DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) space we have already connected a smart watch that saves your heartbeat on a blockchain, experimented with distributed voting mechanisms, combined biometric identification with hybrid traditional systems and decentralized networks to see if we can create user friendly and at the same time more secure ways to ID ourselves. All this experience since 2016 is now flowing into the machine economy showcase that we are building in the spirit of co-creation with the community, corporate partners and made possible by the support of the IOTA Foundation and their Ecosystem Development Fund.
What is a machine economy?
The process of finding the specific requirements and a goal for this project has been a long organic one, involving already all of the above mentioned parties. To start at a few simple, but yet essential facts that we can all agree on:
- there are already machines or smart devices which can act completely autonomous without any human interaction
- you cannot open a bank account for a machine
- Hundreds of different DLTs already exists, transferring a daily value of 20 billion USD every day (even during bear market)
All of these smart devices can generate value, sell services and require at least energy to function. Let’s say we have a self driving car that is driving people from A to B requesting a service fee to paid and it needs to get gas or electricity to continue operating. That means that the machine offers and requires services and exchange of value. Now imagine going to any bank today like this: “Hello, I would like to open a bank account for my self driving car please.” Even if you found an open minded person at the bank it would still not be possible from a technical or regulatory point to do such a thing. Obviously this is quite a complex topic that can again be discussed on so many levels, going on forever…
Looking at the pure technical dimension of this challenge we found that the technology already exists to a certain degree of maturity today. This could enable any kind of machine to have its own “bank account”. With digital currencies, blockchain or even further developed DLTs there is already a native network that operates on a machine level (no need for cash or credit cards). The “machine bank account” would also just be the starting point for multiple other services and economic interactions that machines could do with each other. This could easily transform society and switch the roles of humans being active and machines being passive around. Imagine a shopping trip to the city and not worrying about parking tickets, but letting the car and the parking spot deal with it by themselves, would that be great?!
The M2M Prototype
The applications, business models and new ways of interaction between human and machine and also machine-to-machine (M2M) could change in tremendous ways, but searching the web for any real experience in this field or actual products will leave you disappointed. So we said we just need to build a tangible prototype:
- One of the first steps would be to take a few machines like 2 industry robots that we used in previous projects before and provide them with a dedicated machine wallet each (displayed as green box with an IOTA logo and a key symbol).
- Once we have developed a functioning alpha version of that, the robots would need energy to work and provide services (packing, laser cutting, 3D printing, transporting, etc.) So we also needed the energy provider or source to have dedicated wallets. This would allow each energy source to sell its energy directly M2M to any robot. (In a further iteration there could be simple to complex preferences for each robot to buy energy from different sources depending on the type of energy, price, distance, etc. — at the same time the energy sources could also define and offer they own real time prices depending on demand, supply, market situations, green energy preferences, etc.)
- Ever since distributed networks appeared there had been huge discussions if centralized organisations such a governments, banks, etc. are still necessary or not. We do not want to engage into this two dimensional debate, but rather integrate the government and also provide them with a machine wallet. This would enable automated, real time energy tax payment with each transaction done within the machine economy. This could certainly speed up the process of tax payments, reduce bureaucracy, and maybe even tax evasion or fraud. Anyways, we are just integrating a fictional government tax agency into our prototype. This will enable us to run all kinds of scenarios and tests in a tangible machine environment and gain actual results and experience.
- The infrastructure was chosen to be IOTA Tangle mainly due to the current main benefits over blockchain powered DLTs which are: We can use the main net for value and non-value transactions without any mining or transaction costs. In addition the DAG structure promises scalability which is absolutely necessary for the further real world adoption beyond Use Cases, PoCs and prototypes. Third point, it is a completely open source and permission-less network that anyone can join, meaning the integration of all our current and future stakeholders is possible with minimum to no effort. (We are already hosting different types of Nodes and will grow the variety and amount of AKITA Nodes during the project)
- Last but not least, we as humans, we still want to see whats going on inside the machine economy and we would want to buy services. Therefore we will have regular human controlled wallets and a dashboard to control and overlook operations as well.
This is the current, modular scope of the M2M prototype project which is set with major milestones to continue in iterations until the end of 2020. During the project is highly likely that we are going to extend this prototype and involve different types of machines and see how they can interact with each other also on a larger scale.