Cryptocurrency Pioneer Will Help Create a Platform for Autonomous-Vehicle Networks
By Bradley Berman
At the DAV Foundation, we are using blockchain technology to build an entirely new transportation ecosystem for autonomous vehicles. That’s a huge task. We fully realize that the creation of the Internet of Transportation will require a team of people with a deep knowledge of crypto-technologies and an unflinching pioneering spirit. That’s why we’re so excited today to announce that Nick Johnson, an expert in Ethereum and blockchain technologies, is joining our advisory board.
Our system’s digital token is called “DAV,” which stands for decentralized autonomous vehicle. “I’m excited to be working on DAV,” said Johnson. “I have a passion for projects that are world-changing and that result in better social outcomes.”
The creation of an autonomous-vehicle blockchain is taking place against a backdrop of a clash between two colossal industries — automotive and consumer electronics. Traditional car companies like Ford and Daimler; ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft; and Internet giants such as Google and Amazon are fiercely competing for the biggest early stakes in autonomous transportation and delivery. Who will own it?
For technologists like Johnson, no single player should own it — a philosophy that echoes the Bitcoin credo that our money system should not be owned by a cartel of banks and mortgage brokers. Nobody owns The Ethereum Foundation or The DAV Foundation — just like nobody owns the web itself. Instead, the currencies spawned by the work of these non-profits provide the means for numerous players to collectively create the apps and rules for a large, open network.
Johnson’s work on Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that he described as a “programmable Bitcoin” is highly relevant to The DAV Foundation’s endeavors. The Ethereum platform combines distributed pieces of code into a massive single virtual machine capable of running powerful applications. Records of all activity are kept in a ledger that’s constantly verified and protected. That kind of cryptocurrency shows great promise for unlocking the potential of a global network of autonomous vehicles.
What is particularly noteworthy about Johnson joining the DAV Foundation’s advisory board is his expertise in making these complex systems work in a user-friendly way. He is the founder of the Ethereum Name Service (or ENS). It works like the Domain Name Service (DNS), which allows all of us to access a website with a recognizable name, like www.example.com, instead of a long string of numbers.
ENS replaces even longer strings of blockchain characters with names that can be easily understood by humans. “Nobody should have to type obscure addresses,” said Johnson, a former Google engineer. ENS also uses hashes and other identifiers to easily access files, metadata, and shared code (or “contracts” in blockchain lingo). There are already about 80,000 registered names on ENS.
It will be exciting to see how the Internet of Transportation will play out. New sets of rules and protocols will be debated, tried, torn up, and re-developed as the system gets built. Blockchain cryptocurrencies like DAV could be vital in this evolution. “Blockchains provide a coercion-free way to come to a consensus on something,” said Johnson. “It will be one of the foundation layers of the next generation of the Internet and other future technologies.”