Early thoughts on Aeternity, “The Oracle Machine”

Aeternity (http://www.aeternity.com/) is a new crypto project that makes several bold claims including being “fully scalable”. Yanislav Malahov, their Founder, was kind enough to provide me with an early copy of their whitepaper back in December.

Sure is pretty, but does it deliver the goods?

The Aeternity paper is clear and concise. Developers and corporates alike will be glad to see the emphasis on the use of state channels, as these make many certain real-life use cases possible where on-chain solutions would have been too pricey. You can learn more about state channels in last week’s blog post.

Aeternity’s distinguishing feature is in bringing some governance functions to the platform itself and making the decision and voting tools accessible through its software client. At present, if you aren’t satisfied with the way consensus is handled on your blockchain of choice, you are left with limited options as an end user: either the developer of your preferred client is going to implement a switch, or you’ll have to use a different client altogether. If neither is possible (maybe because there aren’t that many implementations), you may find yourself forced to go with a group decision you ultimately disagree with. Because Aeternity doesn’t prevent having multiple implementations of the protocol either, this design decision appears to represent ‘the best of both worlds’ when it comes to governance and favor a very pragmatic approach.

There is — of course — a token, dubbed ‘aeon’. On Aeternity, just like on Ethereum, users pay only for what they use, and the amount of aeons required to execute an operation is proportional to its complexity and impact on the network. I think Aeternity is releasing just in time before the general public reaches an inevitable 2017 token fatigue, so I’m rather confident they will do well.

Kudos to the team for providing a clear and concise whitepaper

But that’s not all Aeternity has to offer, far from it. The project also promises Proof of Stake, Prediction Markets, Oracles, a Name system, Sharding and 32 transactions per second, none of which I won’t be able to cover as part of my self-imposed 600 words per blog post limit. On the one hand, the project is positioning itself intelligently by targeting developers and addressing the limitations of current blockchain technology. On the other, you’d be forgiven for thinking Aeternity’s team went for an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach.

And there lies the aspect of Aeternity is sure to raise a few eyebrows: it has no working client at the moment, although a testnet is promised with a due date of ‘soon’. Ethereum had set the benchmark very high, having delivered multiple PoCs in three different programming languages before it started its crowdsale. But Ethereum also was also in a unique position where it had privately amassed a war chest of a million+ dollar in loans from various patrons, so it had the luxury of a runway which very few startups will ever get to experience, Aeternity included.

Overall, I think Aeternity shows much promise: the team is smart and well known in the space, their materials easy to understand and they eagerly listen to feedback. What they now need is a small software proof of concept demonstrating their capability to deliver on a feature not yet found in the wild, say the PoS or State Channel aspect of their project. This, in turn, will help them build a community and ideally gain a few, much needed demo apps.

For those who happen to be in London on the 23rd of January, we’re pleased to host Yani at the next Ethereum Meetup at the Blockchain Expo in Olympia. To learn more about the project, you can also check out their website and their quite active Gitter channels.

About the Author

Stephan Tual is the Founder and COO of Slock.it.

Previously CCO for the Ethereum project, Stephan has three startups under his belt and brings 20 years of enterprise IT experience to the Slock .it project. Before discovering the Blockchain, Stephan held CTO positions at leading data analytics companies in London with clients including VISA Europe and BP.

His current focus is on the intersection of blockchain technology and embedded hardware, where autonomous agents can transact as part of an optimal “Economy of Things”.

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Twitter: @stephantual
Contact:
stephan@slock.it

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Stephan Tual

Stephan Tual

Stephan Tual, former CCO Ethereum, passionate Communicator and recognized Innovator with nearly 30 years of IT expertise.

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