Edgeware is a smart contract and distributed computing platform distinguished by its on-chain, self-governance protocol. It is modeled after and seeks to improve upon existing smart contract platforms, such as Ethereum, EOS and Tezos. Edgeware aims to accomplish this by adopting a novel governance structure designed to address scalability problems and facilitate improvements to throughput. Edgeware’s software is founded in Parity Substrate, a framework for developing blockchains based on the Polkadot project. The project was developed by Commonwealth Labs in San Francisco, California, and is currently in its testnet phase. Commonwealth Labs is headed by Dillon Chen, Fellow at Rough Draft Ventures and graduate of UPenn’s Wharton School, and Raymond Zhong, former Computer Engineer at Facebook and Princeton graduate.
In many regards, Edgeware’s core functions resemble those of existing Turing-complete smart contract platforms. Any user may write and deploy unique smart contracts, and execution fees are levied in the same manner as Ethereum’s gas model, though they are payable in Edgeware Tokens. Smart contracts may interact with each other and/or other modules on Edgeware’s public blockchain.
Likewise, Edgeware employs a Sybil-resistant Nominated Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism (NPoS) reminiscent of EOS’ Delegated Proof-of-Stake model, both of which select validators primarily based on stake and reward those contributing to validators’ stakes. In Edgeware’s NPoS system, any user may ‘nominate’ trustworthy validators by delegating to them a portion of their EDG holdings, thus increasing the size of the validator’s stake. A fixed number of validators are then chosen from the pool of nominees using a collective coin-flipping algorithm, with one’s chance of being selected as a validator proportionate to the size of one’s stake.
Once a new block is created and confirmed, block rewards are distributed evenly, regardless of stake, to all validators, who then distribute their portion of the reward amongst themselves and their supporting nominators on a pro rata basis. Staking mechanisms incentivize nominators to only support trustworthy validators: validators determined malicious or negligent lose a portion of their stake, in a manner such that all supporting parties, including nominators, lose a proportionate amount. Validators are selected on a rotating basis and must bond their stake for the entirety of their tenure. Further, Edgeware attempts to address the nothing-at-stake problem by utilizing a GRANDPA finality gadget that generates deterministic finality, forcing validators to operate on a single chain in the event of a fork.
Edgeware differentiates itself from similar smart contract platforms after which it was modeled by implementing a self-governance protocol. Unlike Ethereum and EOS, Edgeware’s governance takes place completely on-chain: any approved upgrades are automatically downloaded and implemented by all nodes on the network. By conducting the election and operations of its council on-chain, Edgeware builds upon previous self-governance models such as Tezos’, which functions similarly but maintains an unelected, off-chain council of key industry figures. Further, in providing the treasury with a fixed income, which users may allocate through an on-chain process, Edgeware aims to increase its community’s autonomy and its network’s adaptability.
Edgeware’s self-governing ecosystem is comprised of five key modules that define its core logic:
- Signaling: Users may gauge interest in proposals by conducting non-binding polls.
- Identity: Edgeware offers an identity primitive in order to identify those involved in governance and better support certain dApps built on the platform. Users who voluntarily opt-in to the process must submit an attestation in the form of a Github username or Ethereum address, which is then verified by pre-selected parties.
- Democracy: The on-chain voting system allows users to vote on binary referendums, offering them voting power proportionate to their holding’s size. Voting periods last two weeks and a supermajority of the active voting tokens is required to approve a proposal, which may be initially proposed by any EDG token holder.
- Council: Token holders also elect a governing council comprised of 6 of their peers, who are given certain powers designed to streamline the governance process. Council members have the authority to bias both quorum and the number of votes required to pass a proposal.
- Treasury: Half of all block rewards are held in the treasury module. Users may vote to allocate these funds, in a DAO-like manner, to user-proposed projects in any of the following areas: core technology, governance, developer experience, user experience, and ecosystem support.
All modules operating in the Edgeware system are written in Rust and compiled to a WebAssembly (WASM) virtual machine, allowing for Turing-complete computation. Thus, smart contracts deployed in Edgeware may be written in any higher-level, WASM-compatible programming language. Additionally, several utility modules, such as fee and staking modules, may exist within the platform’s five core modules.
The Edgeware roadmap notes several future improvements to the platform. Among other upgrades, it intends to increase council size to twenty-four members, implement DAOs for governance, enable interoperability with platforms such as Ethereum and Polkadot, and expand voting methods beyond binary decisions and vote weighting beyond 1:1 token-weighted (i.e. lock-time weighting and one-person-one-vote systems). More importantly, the project intends for its governance model to undergo organic, community driven growth by providing “a set of tools for groups of stakeholders to experiment with new forms of governance.”
The Edgeware Token (EDG) is the Edgeware blockchain’s fungible and freely-tradeable native asset. Ownership of the token confers both voting and staking rights; users may eventually be able to temporarily ‘lock’ their EDG tokens to increase voting power, as well. Five billion tokens comprise the initial supply of EDG, and 158 new EDG are minted per block, with approximately 997,220,160 EDG minted each year, subject to changes by governance. Edgeware tokens are stored using an account model on the Edgeware blockchain.
Another feature distinguishing Edgeware from its peers is its novel token distribution method, referred to as a ‘lockdrop.’ In this modified airdrop procedure, users lock ETH in a smart contract for a fixed period of time and receive EDG in return, with the number of EDG tokens received determined by the size and duration of the ETH lock. Users who lock for three months are given EDG at a base ratio to locked ETH, while those locking for six and twelve months receive 30% and 120% bonuses, respectively. Once ETH is sent to the lockdrop contract, a new, individualized ‘lock contract’ is created to store an individual’s ETH in an attempt to mitigate security risks. Additionally, users may simply ‘signal’ their intent to participate in the project by allowing a ‘snapshot’ of their ETH account or smart contract to be taken, effectively engaging in a zero-time ‘lock.’ In return, they receive EDG at 20% of the base ratio, 75% of which is not collectable until one year after launch.
Participants are able to initiate an ETH lock from June 1st through August 30th, 2019, after which only ‘signals’ may be performed. 90% of all initial Edgeware Tokens are to be distributed in this manner, while the remaining 10% is distributed as follows: 4.5% to Commonwealth Labs, 3% to the project’s partners, and 2.5% to community contributors. Initially, Parity would have been able to obtain 1.5% of the initial token supply by merely ‘signaling’ from an ETH wallet containing 306,276 ETH rendered immovable by a security breach during its DOT raise. However, changes to the signaling procedure announced on the eve of the lockdrop allowed Parity’s ‘signal’ to be considered a ‘lock,’ thus increasing its token allocation by as much as 9% of the initial supply; as Parity and Commonwealth Labs are closely affiliated through the Web3 Foundation, this change effectively affords one entity control of up to 15% of all EDG Tokens.