Although interest in artificial intelligence (AI) has been increasing in recent years, the public introduction of ChatGPT in November 2022 sparked a frenzy of AI-related efforts in tech, finance, and crypto. In the following months, AI-focused companies like makers of GPUs and computer chips saw spikes in both interest and investment. Although Fetch.ai predated this new widespread excitement surrounding AI, it benefited from a tech-focused crypto community that was further intrigued by the intersection of AI and the blockchain.
Fetch.ai focuses on AI agents, which are pieces of computer code designed to accomplish certain tasks such as scheduling appointments or interfacing with smart home devices. These agents can digitally represent an entity like a person or organization, yet they operate relatively autonomously from that entity. They can also interact and learn from each other through cross-talk, theoretically strengthening the AI and machine learning (ML) models that power them.
Behind every blockchain transaction and operation on Fetch.ai’s network, the FET token serves as a medium of exchange and allows users to pay for AI-based services and fees.
How was Fetch.ai developed?
Fetch.ai was introduced in 2017 by a UK-based team founded by Humayun Sheikh, Toby Simpson, and Thomas Hain. Sheikh is Fetch.ai’s CEO, and he was an early investor in the Google-owned AI company DeepMind before also founding another machine learning/artificial intelligence company called itzMe. With a history in multiple tech companies (including as head of software design at DeepMind), Simpson has served as both CTO and COO of Fetch.ai. Hain is the Chief Science Officer (CSO) at Fetch.ai and has long held a position at the University of Sheffield.
In early 2019, nearly 3000 investors bought FET through an initial exchange offering (IEO) hosted by Binance. Through this token sale, Fetch.ai raised $6 million in funding. It has since raised more financial support through similar token sales (e.g. held through Bitfinex in 2020), institutional investments (most notably from GDA Group in 2021), technology incubators (including $40 million from DWF Labs), and corporate partnerships (including one with trading platform BitGet). With financial support and technological enthusiasm serving as tailwinds, Fetch.ai has collaborated on multiple projects including one that would optimize parking in Munich, Germany using its AI agents.
In 2023, it was announced that Fetch.ai would be partnering with the German electronics/tech giant Bosch to create the Fetch.ai Foundation. Leaders from both companies serve on the Foundation’s board, and its stated goal is to support and guide the development of Web3 efforts.
How does Fetch.ai work?
Fetch.ai’s main services involve uAgents (micro-Agents), which are relatively simple computer programs that can represent someone (a person) or something (a company) and act autonomously to accomplish tasks. uAgents look out after their owners’ interests, choose different ways to reach their goals based on what would be most successful, and respond dynamically to their environment and other agents.
Agents built with Fetch.ai are meant to be relatively easy to build, without the need for extensive knowledge of computer coding beyond the Python programming language. Agents are registered on the Almanac contract, which is a smart contract housed on Fetch.ai’s blockchain. They are then searchable and accessible to other agents and users. Through this system, agents can be queried, kept up-to-date, and ownership of agents can be verified through the Agentverse Explorer.
Once an agent has been registered, it is accessible to the AI Engine powering Fetch.ai’s operations, achieving objectives by breaking them down into tasks. The engine uses large language models (LLMs) to allow for processing of large amounts of text for clear communication among users and agents on the network. This is also the technology that powers ChatGPT.
In 2023, Fetch.ai introduced DeltaV, a search-based chat interface that operates similarly to ChatGPT and can help users achieve tasks through natural conversation. Its role highlights Fetch.ai’s goals of bringing AI into the mainstream by streamlining tasks such as booking travel. In fact, prior descriptions of Fetch.ai’s platform have focused on this particular functionality. DeltaV is designed to interface with chat and calendar apps (and more) in order to serve as an AI travel agent, scheduler, or other roles its users may need.
How is the FET token used?
The FET token was originally released as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain. The purpose of this was two-fold: first, to bring the crypto community’s attention to the platform, and second, for fundraising through token sales. Fetch.ai now has its own blockchain which uses FET as its native cryptocurrency, but some FET tokens remain on Ethereum. The Fetch wallet software allows users to hold and use their FET.
FET’s primary use is in Fetch.ai’s Proof of Stake (PoS) blockchain based on the Cosmos SDK. As is the case with other PoS chains, FET is staked by the network’s validators to secure the network and grant the opportunity to earn rewards. Fetch.ai’s network also supports delegation which allows holders of smaller amounts of FET to delegate their stake to larger validators and share in rewards. Staking may also give users the ability to vote on project governance proposals. Finally, FET is used to pay for fees on the network.
As of 2023, the total supply of FET is between 1.1-1.2 billion tokens, most of which are circulating, though with issuance of new coins (inflation), this number is subject to change. The initial allocation of tokens saw 20% of all FET going to each the Fetch.ai Foundation and the founders, 17.6% to the token sale, 17.4% to future token releases, 15% to mining rewards, and 10% to advisors.
- Fetch.ai is a blockchain-based platform that provides artificial intelligence and machine learning functions to its user base.
- Micro-agents (uAgents) are the primary tool used on Fetch.ai’s network, allowing users to create digital representations of themselves that can carry out automated tasks like booking travel.
- The FET token is Fetch.ai’s network utility token that is used for staking, governance, and paying transaction fees.