Ocean aims to benefit technological development broadly by enabling a data market more liquid than existing competitors. Ocean wagers that the true demand for data will be better reflected by a more open market of data buyers and plans on eventually operating as a data curation service. The Ocean protocol is also designed such that individuals or organizations can establish their own data marketplaces atop the protocol. Since small firms require much data to compete against established players who use similar technology, the team believes such marketplaces will particularly benefit firms looking for AI and machine learning type algorithms. The Singapore-based non-profit Ocean Foundation provides the project’s leadership elements, and Ocean’s notable Singapore partners include the Monetary Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority. Additionally, Ocean is associated with SingularityNET to help enable an AI marketplace. Mattereum will help provide Ocean with a technical-legal structure involving natural language contracts and their mappings onto smart contracts, along with procedures for dispute resolution.
The Ocean Protocol supports varying access to different types of data, since some proprietary data requires different restrictions compared to regulated data, such as data relating to healthcare, while free data, such as census data, is always available. Since there are various degrees of sensitive data across different legal jurisdictions whose miss-access incurs hefty fines, ensuring that Ocean Protocol’s data transactions comply with the appropriate regulations is crucial. Ocean utilizes Proofed Curation Markets (CPMs) to express datasets’ predicted popularity and to record datasets’ existing popularity as a function of actual usage. Cryptographic verification that the data was indeed made available is also performed. Since data providers can effectively bet on the future popularity of a data set and have their stake yield profits, these popularity type metrics create incentives to share free data set at no cost to the end user—with the exception of any transaction fees. BigchainDB will support Ocean’s tech stack along with Ethereum and IPFS.
The Ocean Token, OCN, is a means for value exchange. Ocean raised 22.1 million USD in a token sale with a March 2018 pre-launch distribution to be followed by a Q1 2019 network launch distribution. Dataset owners can set an asking price in OCN for access to their data along subscription or purchase models. Ocean will also emit OCN for ‘block rewards’—Ocean’s non-conventional nomenclature for the reward people receive for making data sets available and predicting popularity. Ocean protocol users can associate a stake of OCN tokens to datasets that they value. Should users stake on a dataset that ends up being highly popular, the stake’s value will increase, presenting a reward for the prescient staker. ‘Drops’ will be derivative tokens of OCN and used to stake in curation markets. The relationship between OCN and drops is described by curation market bonding curves, whereby early adopters can be rewarded by making it more expensive to stake drops to a curation market as the market becomes more popular, as measured in drops stacked against that market.