Blockchain technology is one of the most celebrated technologies to emerge within the last decade and one of the most anticipated in terms of its potential impact in the coming years. Emerging almost from nowhere with the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2008, blockchain, or distributed ledger technology (DLT), to use the formal terminology, now looks set to have a major impact on how we store and transfer data. Blockchain is particularly applicable to the finance and banking sector, where it is positioned to overhaul and replace numerous antiquated processes, making it much easier for people, even those without bank accounts, to send and receive money globally.
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However, as blockchain has continued to evolve, a number of challenges have arisen which have held it back from reaching mass adoption. Perhaps most notable is the fact that participating in “mining”, the process of solving complex algorithms and the means by which the Bitcoin network functions, requires extremely powerful computer hardware. This means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average person to contribute to the continued development of the network, with much of the mining now being carried out by centralized cartels or “mining pools”. This is at odds with the ethos of decentralization, on which Bitcoin (and so, blockchain technology) was founded.
Recognizing this, and the growing impact that the blockchain space is having on the environment, Tomer Afek and Aviv Eyal, along with an experienced team of academics, cryptographers, and entrepreneurs, founded Spacemesh. Spacemesh is a fairly-mined programmable cryptocurrency platform powered by a novel proof-of-space-time (PoST) consensus protocol. It is designed to enable millions of ordinary people with desktop PCs to use available disk space on their systems to participate in distributed systems.
Spacemesh is designed to use existing computer storage, such as magnetic drives and SSD drives. As a result, Spacemesh has a lower environmental impact as, unlike Bitcoin, it doesn’t require users to build expensive and power-hungry computers. The energy cost per transaction on the protocol is minuscule compared to other systems, with power consumption costs per transaction estimated at 3 US cents per month for Spacemesh, compared with $50 for its Bitcoin counterpart.
Spacemesh is designed to achieve three main objectives:
- Create a fair cryptocurrency that will become a global means of payment.
- Ensure the fair distribution of that cryptocurrency.
- Establish a global programmable infrastructure for tokenized apps, communities, and economies.
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Spacemesh is created, maintained, and secured by ordinary people from around the world who run the software on their existing desktop computers. Anyone can join the decentralized Spacemesh network without requesting permission, simply by committing some of the free space on their hard drives. Due to the lack of complex Proof-of-Work (PoW) computations, there is no need to purchase dedicated, expensive mining hardware. Spacemesh is resistant to Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and has fewer barriers to entry than Proof-of-Stake (PoS) based blockchains. As such, Spacemesh aims to become the core Internet protocol for blockchain computation, with its public open testnet due to launch later this year.
Spacemesh is made up of an experienced team of academics, cryptographers, and entrepreneurs, including Tomer Afek, CEO and Co-founder; Tal Moran, Chief Scientist; Aviv Eyal, Chief Product Officer; and Iddo Bentov, Chief Scientist. The Spacemesh Core Dev Team has 12 strong, full-time software developers with diverse backgrounds in cybersecurity, internet networking, and cryptography.
A serial entrepreneur, Tomer Afek has more than 20 years of experience across the tech, digital, and finance industries. Prior to Spacemesh, Afek co-founded and served as the CMO of Showbox, a full-cycle technology platform for 5 years, and has co-founded and held C-level roles at a number of companies.
Speaking about the mission of the Spacemesh project, Afek said, “We want Spacemesh to be available to anyone who owns a PC, and is curious about using and experimenting with blockchain technology. There are still major barriers preventing ordinary people, and young people in particular, from getting into blockchain and cryptocurrency. Notably, most existing platforms require a large initial investment either expensive hardware and power (PoW) or buying up tokens (PoS). However, Spacemesh is focused on lowering the barriers to entry, ensuring that anyone can mine and contribute to the network at home with whatever computing resources they already have available to them.”
The other members of the team are equally optimistic and excited about what Spacemesh is seeking to achieve. Tal Moran, a Chief Scientist at Spacemesh, who has served as a faculty member at the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya since 2011, is focused on how Spacemesh will appeal to those who truly believe in the founding principles of blockchain technology.
Moran commented, “We also want to appeal to those who, like us, believe that decentralization is essential. By limiting the barriers to entry, we can deliver on this promise in a way that other platforms currently cannot. So far, the response that we’ve gotten from our community has been overwhelmingly positive and assured us that we are going about addressing this issue in the right way. In the current blockchain ecosystem, those without sophisticated knowledge of cryptography are already at a disadvantage. Spacemesh is motivated to democratize access to blockchain and create a platform for anyone to use, regardless of their background or economic status. By enabling our PoST protocol to be accessible to the masses, we have created a solution to solve the energy efficiency and centrality issues associated with PoW and PoS, while enabling society to move onto the next phase of blockchain adoption.”
To achieve its mission of getting blockchain technology into the hands of people around the world, Spacemesh needs support, but not the kind you might think. The company received $3 million in seed funding in May 2018, then a further $15 million during a Series A funding round in September of that year. As such, Spacemesh currently has enough funding to achieve its goals and is not looking for more. Instead, as Aviv Eyal, Spacemesh co-founder and a successful serial entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience, explains, the project needs a different type of support:
“At its core, the Spacemesh mission is to create fair, decentralized economic infrastructure for the world, empowering ordinary people. To achieve this, we need people to spread the word about Spacemesh and, once TestNet is launched, we’ll need volunteers to serve as nodes, helping us to refine our platform.”