Cardano Foundation Activity Report: a message from the CEO

12 March 2024 • Activities & Updates
Frederik Gregaard
Chief Executive Officer

As we look back at 2023, we can be enormously proud of what we have achieved

At the Cardano Summit 2023 I quoted former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who noted that the value of money requires not only the belief of the public at a point in time but – critically - the consent of the public at all times. The need to nurture and maintain the consent and trust of the public is at the core of our thinking.

As we continue to work at pace to advance the Cardano infrastructure, this report provides an opportunity to take stock of the scope and scale of what we achieved during the year. The team has delivered exceptional work, especially considering the nimble size of the Cardano Foundation. The contributions of the Cardano community have also been inspiring, and so I want to highlight some examples to illustrate their impact, as well as their interconnectedness.

Operational resilience

The fabric of society is interwoven with the critical infrastructure upon which we rely. For this reason operational resilience forms the bedrock of the Foundation’s work.

The real-time, continuous network monitoring capabilities the Foundation developed during 2023 have added immensely to our insights. The ability to identify unusual activity allowed us to pinpoint issues with two exchanges and work alongside their respective technical teams to resolve these issues, resulting in improvements to the overall health of the network. This clearly demonstrates the commercial value of harnessing multidisciplinary teams to identify and address issues.

Capabilities such as these are also an area of keen interest in our discussions with some of the most sophisticated regulators in the world. We were met with strong interest in the Foundation’s perspectives on business continuity and disaster recovery, as well as with the concept of running enterprise applications on a decentralized and distributed system.

Our operational resilience activities also resulted in contributions by the Cardano Foundation to the Cardano node visible via GitHub. Notwithstanding the Cardano community’s ability to innovate and make changes to the network while it operates – akin to flying a plane while working on the engine – the infrastructure has run continuously for more than 2,000 days.

Establishing representative governance is another core element of ensuring the sustainability of the Cardano infrastructure. As part of our ongoing collaboration with the University of Zurich we ran a simulation to assess the impact on business continuity of introducing voting. We evaluated the proposed revision of Cardano’s on-chain governance system, CIP-1694, using a digital twin of what exists today as well as what could exist in future. That process gave us valuable insights into the impact of changes in governance, and we concluded that incremental rather than wholesale changes prove more effective. In this vein, our SPO poll experiment saw an incredible level of participation – 50% of active stake – and generated valuable governance and operational learnings.

Education

Having identified a need for high quality educational materials about third generation blockchain that are accessible to all, the Foundation began to develop the Cardano Explorer so that legal stakeholders can verify that Cardano does what it should. Later on, December 2023 saw the launch of the Cardano Academy to allow anyone to learn about blockchain and Cardano. We also offer a large and growing repository of tutorials and materials to onboard new developers. Likewise, the Cardano Developer Portal remains an important and growing resource to encourage diversity of the developer community by sharing solutions and features.

Our flagship event, the Cardano Summit 2023, was a resounding success. The main stage event in Dubai included attendees both from long established industries and from multiple blockchain ecosystems, as well as regulators and policymakers. In addition to an inspiring program of presentations and panel discussions, the two-day event provided a valuable opportunity for networking, collaboration, and celebration of achievements.

Adoption

We are keen to disprove the persistent misconception that associates blockchain solely with capital markets or digital applications. Our work with the Georgian wine industry and Merchadise exemplifies precisely these wider uses and advantages. It showcases the benefits of assigning digital identities to individual physical items and making them verifiably authentic. In fact, the Georgian wine organization registered sales in countries they had never marketed to, from buyers keen to authenticate their purchases in a way not currently possible through established online marketplaces.

In order to be able to anchor these physical products onto the Cardano blockchain without users needing technical knowledge, the Foundation developed a web application to sit on top of the blockchain. Additional examples of freely accessible, off-blockchain tools developed by the Foundation to drive adoption and accelerate enterprise onboarding include the open source Identity Wallet as well as the searchable, data provisioning tool Ledger Sync.

These efforts to bring more open source into the Cardano ecosystem stood as a key goal for 2023. The Foundation therefore asked the community to think about the biggest problem they could solve using a widely adopted programming language, and they identified an opportunity to simplify and enhance the development of smart contracts on Cardano. We gave them the freedom to see if their solution could work, and the outcome was Aiken. In every situation we observed so far, Aiken led to lower execution costs, sometimes saving up to 90%. It has lowered the barrier to entry so significantly that some of the largest projects on Cardano have switched to Aiken. This demonstrates the power of open source and that the best solutions need not require large investment.

Looking ahead

The emergence of exponential technologies such as AI and synthetic biology make the need for verifiable credentials and infrastructure more important than ever. Trust in our systems must be strengthened, especially when these systems facilitate governance, commerce, global trade, and education. Achieving this requires transparency and traceability. It also calls for agile yet dependable infrastructure. With the network’s extraordinary up-time, a testament to the reliability and trustworthiness paramount to any critical infrastructure, Cardano stands not just as a beacon of innovation but as a paragon of stability.

As we navigate the complexities of this brave new digital age, I call upon enterprises and social systems to join us on our blockchain journey. We invite you to partake in a future that is resilient, equitable, and transparent.

Read the Cardano Foundation’s Activity Report 2023

Tags