Building Synesis One Through Progressive Decentralization
Origins of Synesis One
Synesis One grew out of a series of conversations among the computer scientists, programmers and entrepreneurs behind the Mind AI reasoning engine. Since 2018, the Mind AI team (based in Seoul) has been quietly building an artificial intelligence that can reason and comprehend the way humans do. Like humans, Mind AI needs data to make sense of the world. For many commercial applications, we could just train up the engine with domain specific information. But to achieve our long-term goal of closing the gap between today’s limited machine learning algorithms and tomorrow’s artificial general intelligence, we understood we would need more varied data!
When faced with the same problem, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and other Big Tech companies turned to the exabytes of user data they have vacuumed up over the years through their various platforms and ‘free’ services. They use the data they harvest to train up their machine learning algorithms and compile detailed psychological portraits of their users, which they use to deliver eyeballs to advertisers. In this ecosystem, Big Tech makes trillions of dollars from valuable user data while users get free email and search recommendations. This tradeoff struck us as lopsided and unfair.
The Mind AI team believes that the best way to teach our reasoning engine is through a decentralized system that crowdsources the knowledge it needs by aligning incentives. We believe contributors should be rewarded for the value they create, according to the principle ‘your data, your money.’ So, once we got the core reasoning engine working (after years of intensive work), we turned our attention to the problem of how to harness the power of blockchain to decentralize the system and reward contributors.
Designing, building and deploying a decentralized software application at the intersection of artificial intelligence, public blockchains and decentralized finance is challenging. We face the usual hurdles of any technology startup. We needed to raise capital to fund the core R&D for the reasoning engine, with investors patient enough to let us operate in quasi stealth mode. Next, we had to assemble a dedicated core team with deep expertise in computer science, artificial intelligence and natural language processing — people who share our vision of AGI. Finally, we needed to navigate a complex and constantly changing regulatory environment as governments grapple with how to regulate tokens that accrue in value through network effects and usage.
Building the core technology and ensuring regulatory compliance requires product leadership and a dedicated team, with enough capital and runway to get the project off the ground. Adding to the challenge is the fact that Synesis One is built on smart contracts, which means that early design decisions get baked into code that can be difficult or impossible to modify later. At the same time, we want community participation as we build out the system, to ensure a good fit with community needs. After all, the end goal is to transition the ecosystem to community ownership and governance. So, how to balance these two competing demands?
We decided to pursue a strategy of progressive decentralization. Jesse Walden of Andreesen Horowitz created a useful playbook for how dApp developers can move from focused development and rapid iteration to community participation and ownership, while avoiding the twin pitfalls of early token distribution (which risks regulatory scrutiny) or not decentralizing enough (what Jesse calls ‘exit to the community’).
In the first stage, the team needs to focus 100% on building a product that people want. The only thing that matters at this stage is product / market fit. As Jesse writes, teams need to tighten execution and quick learning, not design by committee. The team shouldn’t even think about decentralization or issuing tokens at this stage.
In the second stage, it’s time to begin forging connections between the community and the developers. Jesse advises that developers should ease into open source development, with bounties, grants and other incentives for community contributions. This is also the time to design and test the project’s tokenomics.
In the third stage, the product has achieved a good market fit and developed a robust community that can sustain the application. At this point, it’s time to transition from product group control to a community owned and operated network.
Jesse argues that this three-stage approach of progressive decentralization offers teams “the most auspicious path to finding product/market fit, financial sustainability, a participatory community and regulatory compliance — in that order.”
Mind AI + Synesis One
For the past three years, our core team has focused on building the Mind AI reasoning engine. We opted to fund the project through our own money and venture capital to give us the space we needed to do cutting edge work. Once the core engine was working, we assembled the Synesis One team to build the blockchain based compendium of knowledge that will fuel the Mind AI reasoning engine. The emergence of the ERC 1155 token standard, DeFi summer, and developments in Solana inspired us. Since Metaplex encompasses the NFT standards for Solana, similar to 1155, it set the stage for us to create a model where we can distribute the fee stream (from fee-per-call) to active contributors, which aligns the community around the project’s success. We’ve now finished stage one of development.
We’re now busy with stage two. In 2022, we’ll release the beta version of Synesis One, along with the beta version of the natural language crowdsourcing APIs for developers. We’re excited to share what we’ve built and to invite developers to start building applications. To help us extend the ecosystem, we will issue grants (through our foundation) and bounties to tap the expertise of the community and guide development. We will also initiate a combination of token presale, a liquidity mining program, and ATD (algorithmic token distribution) by inviting token buyers to purchase our governance token, Synesis. This is a better financing solution (over equity) because we wish to reward the main actors (architects, builders, and validators), of our ecosystem in Synesis for their contributions.
In stage three we will open-source core intellectual properties of Mind AI’s natural language reasoning engine and the Synesis One compendium. Synesis One will transition to a Distributed Autonomous Organization, with governance in the hands of the community of Synesis token holders. Once fully deployed on blockchains, Mind AI + Synesis One will become the world’s first public utility AI system, which will be permission-less, censorship-resistant, decentralized and secure for all.
- Jesse Walden Progressive Decentralization: A Playbook for building Crypto Applications, accessed June 21, 2021.