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IOTA (MIOTA) is about to commit coordicide. No need to dial 911, it’s not as morbid as it sounds. The IoT-powered project is moving closer to its goal of total decentralization, and preparing to remove a central node that’s designed to protect the network from double-spending attacks.
The Berlin-based Foundation has nicknamed the decoupling “coordicide” and it has set the stage for what for what a dedicated IOTA blogger is calling “the first project that fulfills Satoshi’s vision but without mining.” The TangleBlog.com cites lead IOTA developer Hans Moog as saying:
IOTA currently uses a proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm that is designed to prevent an attacker from possessing more than one-third of the network’s hashpower. It’s safeguarded by the coordinator node to ensure the security of the network. IOTA compares it to Bitcoin’s hard-coded checkpoints.
While there are limitations to what the IOTA Foundation can do via the coordinator node, it also reeks of the centralization that DLT projects are supposed to bypass. IOTA admits that there are “undesirable” features tied to the checkpoint, such as the foundation being able to prioritize transactions, freeze funds or inadvertently shut down confirmations on the network. As IOTA moves to a “coordinator-free Tangle,” which is anticipated for 2019, they are exploring alternative security mechanisms to PoW.
Feeding Sheep With MIOTA Tokens
As an IoT startup, IOTA is focused on machine-to-machine communication fueled by the MIOTA token. As a result, it has become an interesting project to mainstream companies like German fintech Wirecard, which is reportedly interested in the IOTA technology.
IOTA uses a Directed Acyclic Graph, which is a type of distributed ledger technology that is not a blockchain. The unique nature of IOTA’s Tangle, which removes the need for miners and fees, is rivaled only by the type of projects that are built on it.
For instance, instead of raising virtual CryptoKitties, a Feed the Sheep app lets users fund Ouessant sheep feedings in real time over the Tangle. The process is similar to a feeding dispenser at the zoo, except instead of hand-feeding the animals, you send a payment in IOTA to an address that drops a food granule into the solar power-fueled sheep house.
Feedings are broadcast live, incentivizing animal lovers to participate and giving them the transparency to see exactly how their funds are being directed. The app highlights IOTA’s focus on micropayments and speedy transactions, features that cannot be readily added to the Bitcoin network.
Vienna-based Samuel Rufinatscha is behind an e-voting protocol built on the Tangle that is under development. He told Crypto Briefing that Tangle is a “perfect foundation” for his project:
The feeless and immutable nature of the Tangle provides the perfect foundation for it. Anyone can take part, it costs nothing. Once the ballot is on the Tangle, it is impossible to alter or eliminate it. True verifiability can be achieved.
Rufinatscha added that the IOTA research team has made “great progress regarding coordicide,” adding that “proposed solutions look promising.” He is confident that the “coordinator will be removed in near future.”
Price and Project Plot Different Courses
The MIOTA price has been more than slashed in half since November as the bear market continues to take no prisoners. Meanwhile, falling crypto prices seem to be taking their toll on more relationships. There was a recent clash between a software development team dubbed SemkoDev and the IOTA Foundation. SemkoDev, after contributing to the project and (according to social media) accepting donations, revealed that its work is not exclusive to IOTA, which has angered some in the community.
Nonetheless, even as other crypto projects are tightening their belts, the IOTA Foundation has been on a hiring spree. So far in December, the nonprofit has added Julia Schulz as assistant to the board, Janna Zielinski from EY as head of strategic projects, and human rights lawyer Mariana De La Roche Wills.
IOTA has also announced the latest cohort of open-source developers selected to receive funding from the IOTA Ecosystem Development Fund. The largest of the three December grants was for $367,000, to fund the development of an M2M Ecosystem Showcase. The showcase’s goal “is to enable machines to buy and sell services, energy and even pay taxes autonomously.”
As an IoT startup, IOTA is in a league of its own among crypto companies, and it has the potential to make its way into the technology that is connecting the gazillions of devices out there. At the very least, it’s making a difference in the lives of the Ouessant sheep.
The author is not invested in any of the digital currencies mentioned in this article but is invested in other cryptocurrencies.