At Outlier Ventures we support the development of the next era of digital infrastructure: The Convergence Stack
Refined over the past five years, The Convergence Stack is a set of decentralized technologies that are needed to replace the broken Web and enable a new more equitable Data Economy
e.g. Balance.io, Veil, Graphite
(SEED, IOTA, Ocean Protocol)
e.g. Supervised, Unsupervised, Reinforcement
e.g. Brave, MetaMask, Status
e.g. Infura, DAppNode, vipnode
(Ocean Protocol, Aragon)
(Haja Networks, FOAM, Chainlink)
e.g. Lightning, Plasma, bloXroute
e.g. OrbitDB, Datablocks, WebDB
e.g. ILP, Cosmos, Polkadot
(IOTA, Fetch.AI, Sovrin)
e.g. IPFS, Swarm, Sia
e.g. libp2p, FB0SS, OpenFlow
e.g. HSMs, Intel SGX, AMD-SP
e.g. Trezor, KeepKey, Ledger
e.g. Gateway, Switch, Bridge
Covering hardware, software, networking and applications, the stack underpins a private, secure, and accessible digital infrastructure. We believe these technologies are vital in ensuring the benefits of technologies like the IoT and AI are shared equitably.
The 2008 Bitcoin whitepaper seeded an explosion of experimentation and innovation in cryptography and distributed systems. Extending beyond the Bitcoin blockchain or even blockchains, experimentation has diffused into all modern day information and communication tools from storage to processing to networking. What began as a solution for peer-to-peer electronic cash was actually a trojan horse for a new global digital infrastructure.
Blockchains are just one piece of the puzzle. The idea at the heart of Bitcoin and other projects is to design technology that cannot be controlled by a single entity to avoid negative outcomes like censorship to monopolistic behaviours. The removal of ‘centralization’ or at least attempting to limit control is the mission statement for thousands of crypto projects that have emerged over the past 10 years. Startups are going after all the acronyms in the web stack from DNS to GPS to HTTP.
We have used the OSI model to integrate these decentralizing technologies into the broader tech stack, rather than as something separate and parallel. Despite some tweaks, the stack is structured in the same way from the physical layer at the bottom to the application layer at the top. Many projects will fall into multiple categories as they use combinations of technologies to solve problems. We have so far identified 18 technologies that we believe are critical in ensuring a fully decentralized digital infrastructure is realised but acknowledge it will be refined as the industry evolves.
The Convergence Stack is not just open-source and decentralized, critically it is coordinated by crypto-tokens. Crypto-tokens enable the coordination of economic activity. Not just between humans, but now we can include machines and agents, driving new levels of automation in the machine-to-machine (M2M) economy based on incentives rather than programming. This will likely become the greatest experiment in socio-economic experimentation we have ever seen, bringing about leaps forward not just in technology, but in economics and governance too.