The Orchestra of your Digital Life
Your mobile device is increasingly a remote controller for reality itself and the power it places at your fingertips increases every day. Your digital interactions directly influence the world around you and with a press of a button, you can move cars, goods and people, and initiate services that bring entire supply chains to life. The window it provides lets you monitor all that you command: you can hold delivery services to account like never before, get the identity of the person knocking at your door, or see the temperature in your garden and do so from thousands of miles away. In short, you can seamlessly move from the digital world to the real world using multiple conduits that connect the two. Yet these conduits exist largely in isolation, they are centralised applications and entities that provide just one part of these super-powers, whilst taking a substantial cut of the value flowing through them for doing so. And then there is your role in this: you’re still orchestrating the digital world to command the real one and whilst that is very cool indeed, it’s also inconvenient, inefficient and overly complex to coordinate.
The burden of your orchestration effort increases as the range of magic you can conjure grows. Of course, you could pass this work off to an agent, e.g., another human acting as a personal assistant. “Hey Bob, order me an Uber, as I need to catch the 11:45 train, thanks.” Bob can do this, then when the Uber driver mysteriously cancels (something that seems to be happening more and more these days), he has the authority and autonomy to find another solution and present it back to you. “Hey, Bob here. The Uber wasn’t going to fly, traditional taxi will take too long, but actually if you walk 100 metres around the corner, you can catch a bus which is due in five minutes that’ll get you there in time.” Nice, eh? If only everyone had a Bob. Or two.
Breaking down the isolation
These links between the digital and the real will continue to grow. More and more of the devices, sensors, services and infrastructure that we rely on in our daily lives will become connected and more and more of it will, in theory, be able to be commanded by you directly from the digital world via your mobile device.
We’ll see many more of the innovative businesses like Uber that provide this stuff, although it’s a fair observation that they do so by inserting a middleman where no such middleman ever existed before — adding a disconnect between the value provider and those that receive it. The benefit and convenience that you feel is at the expense of the — already razor thin — margins by those that deliver your travel, hotel room or take-out meals. Diminishing benefits to society aside, it can also be observed that these services operate separately and in complete isolation from each other: unable to tap into each other’s capabilities to dynamically create something new according to the constantly changing needs of their users. And, of course, they still require the human to watch the road carefully at all times. Hands off, self-organising solutions, as produced by an infinite population of digital Bobs, are not something that we have right now, even though all the components necessary to do this have been with us for a while now.
We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.
- Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
Digital entities, working for them and for you
This is where Fetch.AI comes in. Fetch.AI breaks down the barriers between centralised interfaces and allows them to be reassembled in different ways. It does this by connecting the thing that wants something to the bit that has something directly — acting as a disintermediation mechanism.
Digital representatives, called autonomous economic agents, represent their particular part of the economy: data, a device, a thing, a person, a prediction, a service or anything else. These representatives are connected to each other on demand according to their needs in an environment that is designed for them, one that is visible semantically, geographically, temporally or in many other dimensions. All the time, the network learns who connects to who, when and why in order to ease and encourage those connections in the future.
This is our endless collection of digital Bobs, and they have the authority to get things done on behalf of what, or who, they represent. This has the potential to make a significant difference when it comes to efficiency and utilisation whilst at the same time doing something really rather lovely: de-stressing our lives a touch. This way, the more we can do, the less we have to do in order to conduct it to satisfy our needs and desires.
Scalable, robust networks for the decentralised future
The Fetch.AI approach also enables other changes: why shouldn’t the person who is taking you to the station have a boot full of parcels, some of which are being delivered to the person they’re to and others that are going as a batch to someone else who will then move them further? This increases the utilisation of assets by making sure that no part goes wasted and could transform the delivery business by reducing the need for, and scale of, local warehouses. Instead, there would be a decentralised distributed warehouse, a wave of parcels and packages being relayed in small batches from person to person before ending up where they should finally end up. Throughout the process, everything is fully trackable and “digital twins” can autonomously make decisions or send notifications¹. These digital twins are agents living in a computer somewhere, acting as the agent for something without having to exist with it. Think of a box of Bobs, and you’re halfway there.
All this requires a network of incredible scale, one that is owned by its users and one which harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver the trust, predictions and knowledge necessary to discover and connect everything on the network, be them digital entities or representatives of humans like you and me. Some of the core technologies that enable such things also enable self-service trust, a mechanism for high-volume, low-value transactions, identities for machines and humans alike and a permanent, unmodifiable record of actions that have taken place — all of which are required to allow this decentralised, bottom-up approach to managing complexity to exist.
We lead increasingly complex lives and we have more and more power. Effective application of that power has not grown with its availability and we all find ourselves spinning more and more plates. Fetch.AI enables those plates to spin themselves. It allows the component parts of the economy to be taken apart and reassembled in different ways like a massive Lego set to serve new opportunities, and it can do so in real time, dynamically, to suit the needs that exist at that moment. It’s a way of merging the individual connections from the digital to the real so that their combined capabilities can be harnessed by you.
Fetch.AI allows the orchestra of your digital life to conduct itself. You simply sit back and enjoy the music.
 One interesting technology that pops up more and more involves small scannable temperature sensor units that can be popped inside medical shipments. These track the climate conditions a package is subject to and can be scanned at various locations to provide a complete history of whether there were any deviations from acceptable ranges. There are also impact sensors and others. Attaching these to economic agents provides scope for incredible accountability and incentivises precisely the care that is needed.