This op-ed appeared on 8 October 2019 on CityAM, a British newspaper, and was written by @Nathan_Kaiser, Chairperson of the Cardano Foundation. Artwork by @ADAtainment.
While Ada Lovelace came very close to being featured on the new £50 note – but did not make it, I was comforted that our Cardano token — ada — was named in honour of the British mathematical visionary who worked on the Analytical Engine, a mechanical general-purpose computer design. I was equally happy that Alan Turing, a pioneer of computer science and artificial intelligence, will be the face of the new banknote from 2021.
The Bank of England’s July announcement reminded of how the works of Lovelace and Turing – in one way or another – have contributed to Cardano and continue to do so.
Cardano is a ground-breaking blockchain network and the first proof-of-stake platform developed for smart contracts using fundamental research from world-leading academics – subject to rigorous peer review – with papers presented at top-tier international symposia. The protocol’s design aims to protect user’s privacy, while also considering the needs of regulators. In doing so, Cardano is the first blockchain to balance these requirements in a nuanced and effective way.
While Cardano is a decentralised worldwide project led by the brightest minds of the planet, we drew some inspiration from prominent British scientists and poets – past and present. For instance, Plutus, a formal programming platform for writing smart contracts for Cardano, uses Turing-complete language.
Speaking of languages, we named our simple programming language for writing financial smart contracts for the Cardano blockchain after Christopher Marlowe – poet, playwright (and spy). The Marlowe language is specifically designed for financial applications and is for financiers rather than programmers, requiring no formal programming experience. It will be launched after Cardano is decentralised and might become the solution to vulnerable escrow contracts.
The first era of the Cardano platform we called Byron, named after the great British poet, Lord Byron – also, of course, Ada Lovelace’s father. This was the ‘bootstrap’ era, designed to set up the network, prove our Ouroborous consensus protocol and start building a community of users.
Last month, we started rolling out the networked for the Shelley phase of development, named after Byron’s great friend and companion in verse, Percy Bysshe Shelley. This connects individual nodes into a peer-to-peer network – an important first step for the decentralised Shelley era. Later this year, we will bring in delegation, staking and incentives with real ada rewards. These are the core pillars of Shelley which after a suitable period of testing will be rolled over to the main net in 2020.
Existing legal framework can allow businesses and enterprises to harness the power of blockchain.
Blockchain technology will play a vital role in the British economy and the emerging technology’s importance will only increase. However, the blockchain sector needs effective policies to start powering the economy and to help diversify it. As an industry, we need to collaborate and work together to help shape governance and standardisation policies around blockchain, including anti-money laundering, market integrity, tax treatments and legislation. In that vein, we recently joined forces with London-based industry body, Global Digital Finance (GDF).
Many in the UK are analysing the merits of blockchain to ensure the country is a friendly jurisdiction for innovation. This process is likely to intensify as the economy gets more globalised. As such, the UK and many other nations are assessing if their existing legal frameworks can deal with the ongoing technological disruption. The Cardano Foundation and its ecosystem partners, Input Output HK, a blockchain software engineering company, and EMURGO, commercial development specialists, are working with various countries to help them find ways on how their existing laws will interact with blockchain.
With the mandate to shape legislation and setting standards while ensuring accountability, the Foundation is also working with the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) under the European Commission that brings together developers and distributed ledger technology projects with regulators and policymakers to future-proof blockchain.
In the financial services industry that plays a key role in the City of London, we are working with the Algorithm Contract Types Unified Standards (ACTUS) to create a standard framework for smart contracts in finance. The Cardano Foundation is also driving the adoption of Cardano through accelerating blockchain models with corporations, governments, enterprises of all sizes together with Konfidio, our strategic partner based in the German capital.
Just as Lovelace and Turing laid the foundations for modern computer science, the Cardano Foundation hopes to blaze a trail through setting legal frameworks, standards, and policies for the blockchain industry in the UK and beyond. To paraphrase Turing himself (whom I consider one of the forebears of the modern blockchain thanks to his cryptanalysis), blockchain’s current state is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.
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