BotChain
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BotChain

Launching Botchain: The AI Bot Identity Protocol and Registry (For Rich People)

For 18 months we have been working on Botchain, an identity protocol and registry for bots. It officially launches today and is entirely open sourced, but it uses tokens on a blockchain. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has indicated that all tokens in the U.S. are securities, which means you have to be an accredited investor to own them, given that Botchain isn’t publicly registered in any way. So, this may be the first piece of open source software you can only use if you are rich. It makes no sense to us but, it is what it is. Read on to learn about why you need Botchain, what token ownership means if they are “securities”, and how you can work with Botchain if you aren’t a wealthy individual.

The Need For a Bot Registry and Identity Tool

When we first started work on Botchain in spring of 2017, people told us “bots? yeah, that will be useful in 10 years.” Then Google Duplex launched and people told us “wow, pretty soon we won’t know if we are talking to a person or a bot… these bots should all have to register their identity.”

For bots to identify themselves and transact with humans, or each other, we need a protocol that defines their identity, and we need a shared registry. It is possible that a private company could own such a registry, but, seeing how Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other tech companies have behaved in recent years with data, do you want one of them controlling such a registry? Should they have all the bot data and information? We don’t think it’s a good idea. And that is why we need Botchain — a decentralized identity system no one controls.

Bots are added to Botchain by curators. Talla, the company that started the Botchain protocol, is the first curator. We can approve others, who can approve others, etc. Curators get paid in tokens from a Token Vault when they vote on whether a bot can join Botchain. There are paths to remove Curators for bad behavior, which we will cover in a more detailed post later.

Why You Should Add Your Bot

By integrating with Botchain, your bot can gain a trusted identity. Think of it as similar to the model of certificates for websites. A bot can provide proof it is owned by who it says it is, and it has certain rights and abilities. Identity lays the groundwork for many other things, and if you want to build on top of Botchain, we will need tools for Reputation, Commerce, Information Exchange and more, all in the near term. There are already a few people working on these things.

Or, if you would like contribute to the core protocol, you can join the Botchain Developer Group.

The SEC Says Botcoins Are Securities

We pre-sold some Botcoin in order to fund development of Botchain, under the SAFT model, but we decided not to ICO given current market situations. We believe Botcoin is a utility token, however, the SEC has said there is no such thing as a utility token, which means that Botcoins are securities in their view. Because they are considered private securities, you have to be an accredited investor to hold a Botcoin. This means at the moment, only wealthy people can register their bots, or register as curators.

This raises a few interesting questions.

  1. A security implies ownership in something. What do I own if I hold a Botcoin? The answer is we aren’t really sure. All the Botchain code is open sourced so no one owns it. There isn’t any other intellectual property. We do have a trademark which anyone is allowed to use. There is no cash flow and no assets. All a Botcoin really does is give you the right to put a Bot on the Botchain.
  2. I have to spend my Security/Ownership to use the service? Yes. I know it sounds very odd to say that you have a security, an ownership stake in something, that you have to spend to get the service, but the SEC has made clear there are no utility tokens. It’s sort of like buying stock in Starbucks and redeeming your stock for a cup of coffee. Weird. But this is the world we live in.
  3. How can I use Botchain if I am not rich? We are working on a proxy service, where you would pay a cash fee, and on the backend we would use that cash fee to acquire a Botcoin and pay for your entry to the ledger. We still need to understand the legal requirements around this, so it isn’t up yet, but if you are interested in Botchain but aren’t an accredited investor, sign up here to be notified when this service launches.

We think Botchain is an important protocol, particularly to help with government and enterprise Bot adoption. Several partners are already integrating with Botchain, and we hope you will join them. It’s all free, and open, and you can take it in whatever direction you choose. This is a protocol for the community, and not a Talla thing.

Thanks to those of you who have contributed so many ideas and support to the project over the past 18 months. We are very excited it is finally going live. If you have questions or comments, send them to botchain@talla.com

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BotChain is a platform for registration, identity and audit of autonomous systems

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Rob May

Rob May

CTO/Founder at Dianthus, Author of a Machine Intelligence newsletter at inside.com/ai, former CEO at Talla and Backupify.

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