Messaging and digital communication are some of the most important and critical functions in modern society. Despite a number of apps delivering end-to-end encryption, providers often use predatory ownership, data collection, and surveillance methods at the level of code, commerce and terms of service. Even in highly trusted applications, server infrastructure remains centralized, creating the possibility of surveillance, censorship and backdoors.

ZERO provides a decentralized messaging system that uses end-to-end encryption. Data is replicated across ZODES in a distributed network, ensuring that no single party maintains control of the network. Individual nodes are unable to decrypt private messages, even if they have physical or digital access to the servers where messages are stored. Network governance and revenue is distributed between stakeholders, with no company or legal entity in-between. User authentication and identity verification is cryptographically verified using the security properties of Ethereum and the ZNS protocol.

Social Networking

The current landscape of social networks, despite offering the benefits of real-time information and global connectivity, have inadvertently produced negative externalities that are contributing to societal harm. The predominant model of these networks, fueled by advertising revenue, is engineered to capture and retain user attention by any means necessary. This approach has led to what is often termed the 'outrage economy' – a system where provocation and controversy are leveraged to engage users. Issues such as censorship and interference in elections have also become prominent concerns, defining much of the contemporary discourse around social media. These platforms have increasingly become arenas for the proliferation of disinformation, bot-driven propaganda, and various scams, all contributing to a reduction in the cognitive attention span of society. The nature of information dissemination on these networks often lacks depth and context, leading to a browsing experience that is fragmented and superficial, rather than one that fosters understanding and critical thinking.

ZERO enables the creation of new social media systems that remove the reliance of advertising and align incentives between stakeholders (such as content creators, consumers and developers). Censorship can be eliminated at the level of code and infrastructure by distributing data between ZODES. Information can be contextualize based on shared-context, affinity, and reputation, using systems such as ZNS, ZBI, ZXP and ZDAO. Disinformation can be reduced through the introduction of novel consensus, reputation and coordination systems. Identity mechanisms can be constructed to cryptographically verify the origin, creator and legitimacy of digital content.

In this context, ZERO emerges as a platform that facilitates the creation of novel social media systems. These systems are distinct in that they eschew the traditional reliance on advertising, thereby realigning the incentives among all stakeholders, including content creators, consumers, and developers. Through ZERO, the potential for censorship can be substantially mitigated at the infrastructural and code level by distributing data across ZODES (ZERO Operational Decentralized Environments).

Furthermore, ZERO offers protocols such as ZNS (ZERO Name Service), ZBI (ZERO Basic Income), ZXP (ZERO Experience Points), and ZDAO (ZERO Decentralized Autonomous Organization) to enable contextualization of information. This contextualization is based on shared contexts, affinities, and reputations, presenting a more nuanced and meaningful information landscape. In addition, the introduction of novel consensus mechanisms, reputation systems, and coordination systems can play a pivotal role in reducing the spread of disinformation. Moreover, ZERO's identity mechanisms are designed to provide cryptographic verification for the origin, creator, and legitimacy of digital content, further enhancing the integrity and trustworthiness of information within these new social networks.

Identity & Name Services

Digital identity is a growing area of interest among researchers, companies and governments. Due to the rapid advancement of AI, creating fake online identities and bots is getting easier by the day. With the rise of deep fakes, it will soon be necessary for strong cryptographic verification methods that are capable of proving that someone is who they say they are, or that a specific piece of digital content is legitimate.

Instead of requiring a trusted central party, such as a bank, corporation or government, ZNS provides a cryptographically verifiable and general-purpose identity protocol that is decentralized. ZNS ensures that only the valid holder of a domain can be verified with an individuals private key, limiting censorship and removing the possibility of third-party tampering at the level of code.

Historically, interacting with distributed systems has been difficult, partially due to the lack of human-readable address spaces. An example of this is the '0x0...' notation in Ethereum and '...mtwirs...' format in IPFS. ZNS provides improved safety and ease-of-use by connecting scarce human-readable namespace, such as: '0://wilder.n3o', to any type of distributed system that is accessible on the internet.

Similar to DNS, ZNS also serves as a general-purpose domain name and global routing system. This enables anyone to create fully decentralized and censorship resistant websites, applications and services, which cannot be exploited or controlled from a single central server (as is the case with traditional DNS servers). ZERO enables the creation of sovereign identity systems that increase trust in digital entities, while simultaneously protecting your own digital rights and freedom.

Artificial Intelligence

The rapid development of artificial intelligence is approaching escape velocity. Experts may disagree on the societal net effect of AI, but they do not disagree on the profound changes it will have on society.

Fundamental research in AI has become a walled garden due to the capital intensive costs of training new models, as well as the difficulty of procuring rich data sources and leading-edge GPUs. Unlike the internet revolution, which democratized access to information and enabled asymmetric power on the part of the individual, we now find ourselves at a dangerous precipice. The hyper-centralization of AI transfers unprecedented power to a small number of governments and corporations, with limited public oversight.

The question many of us are now asking is will AI be used to free us, or to enslave us? Will the AI revolution be controlled by the few, or will AI be governed with the principles of democracy, considering our inalienable human rights?

Take for instance Open AI, arguably the leading AI company today. Their ChatGPT service is closed-source, based on confidential tuning and running in Microsoft's Azure cloud. As implemented currently, their architecture strips individuals of their digital rights related to privacy, data collection, and surveillance. Not to mention, the lack of transparency of the underlying configuration of OpenAI services, or the fact that their models are trained on what many consider to be stolen data protected by copyright laws. From this perspective, OpenAI is anything but open. Value generated accrues to shareholders in a structure driven by a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder value.

A legitimate version of open AI would exist as a public good with collective participation and oversight, designed to accrue benefits to all associated stakeholders (i.e., humanity). From the original creators of training data, to individual users of services, infrastructure providers and developers, systems are needed that align the AI economy between participants that is in service of collective outcomes.

ZERO introduces the possibility of an alternative AI future, where decentralized communities work together in the open, share resources and govern AI using transparent, participatory, and democratic principles that serve humanity. As a public good, AI progress can be coordinated between stakeholders, and onchain governance can be used to facilitate fundamental choice making related to the advancement of AI.

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations

A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) is a virtual organization. A DAO is similar to a company without existing within a fixed physical jurisdiction. It is run by code and decentralized by the blockchain.

The autonomous aspect of DAOs is something the blockchain community has long envisioned. This is where DAOs develop the novel capacity to coordinate with one another without the management of humans. Imagine a social network that automatically coordinates value between stakeholders, a company that rewards different workers to complete projects, or a bank that is run entirely with code. If you think of Bitcoin as a decentralized and autonomous monetary system, you can think of a DAO as a more generalized abstraction of this idea, which can be applied to any type of digital system or societal structure.

Recent advances in AI have accelerated the autonomous possibility of DAOs. Imagine a public good, such as an insurance company that uses AI to evaluate the legitimacy of claims, without the necessity of human agents, and then automatically processes payments on the blockchain. Imagine a health care or education system that is paid into, which then allocates funding efficiently to its members based on transparent and agreed upon collective rules. Paired with AI, DAOs have the ability to automate large sectors of the traditional economy, creating more efficient, more transparent, and less corruptible institutions that serve public interests.

DAOs enable the creation and rapid experimentation of novel coordination systems at scale. For instance, a constitutional republic, public company, or Silicon Valley startup are just different types of coordination structures built on top of modern language and law. As they exist currently, these structures are difficult to change, limiting the possibility of experimentation and evolution. Many of the world's challenges can be looked at though the lens of coordination, consensus, and incentives, all of which DAOs are uniquely positioned to improve.

ZERO provides the necessary building blocks to quickly, securely, and cost effectively build, scale and operate DAOs, as well as large networks of interconnected DAOs in what is referred to as a 'DAO-mesh'.

Decentralized Finance

During the most recent market cycle, the landscape of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) underwent a significant transformation. The Total Value Locked (TVL) in DeFi experienced an astronomical increase, skyrocketing by approximately 6,900%. This surge saw the TVL in DeFi escalate from a modest few hundred million USD in 2020 to an all-time high of over $100 billion USD.

The initial wave of DeFi applications has been diverse and extensive, encompassing a variety of financial instruments and services. These include, but are not limited to, decentralized exchanges, automated market makers (AMMs), and a range of derivative-based financial instruments such as options and futures. Additionally, the sector has seen the emergence of decentralized lending and payment solutions. Among these various applications, stablecoins have gained particular prominence. USD-pegged stablecoins, for instance, have seen a rapid uptick in adoption, with their daily global settlement volume hovering around $50 billion USD in 2023. This trend underscores the growing real-world applicability and acceptance of cryptocurrency and stablecoins.

Despite facing challenges posed by regulatory scrutiny, the expansion of Layer 2 solutions (L2s) continues at a brisk pace. These L2s are primarily focused on reducing the costs associated with performing onchain transactions. They also aim to significantly enhance the overall end-user experience. With these improvements, alongside the ongoing reduction in transaction costs and the increasing simplicity of use, the adoption of crypto-based financial systems by mainstream users is becoming more feasible.

In this evolving DeFi landscape, the ZERO protocol emerges as a pivotal tool for developers. It offers an accessible framework for integrating DeFi primitives into a wide array of digital products and services. This includes protocols, applications, and even games. The ZERO protocol caters to a multitude of DeFi-related use cases. These range from payment processing systems and staking mechanisms to lending services. Furthermore, the protocol opens avenues for exploring novel financial concepts, such as universal basic income (UBI), thereby expanding the potential and reach of decentralized financial systems.

GameFI & The Metaverse

The genesis of digital currencies can be traced back to their initial use in online gaming environments, specifically in pioneering games such as Ultima Online, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft. This progression from purely in-game currencies and ownership to real-world value and ownership within games marks a significant evolutionary step in the gaming industry. This trend is gaining even greater momentum as gaming experiences become increasingly immersive, particularly with the advent and integration of virtual and mixed reality technologies.

In terms of its market size and user base, the gaming industry has seen exponential growth, surpassing the size of the music and movie industry combined. This expansion highlights the potential for games and virtual worlds to eventually represent a considerable portion of blockchain protocol usage. The metaverse is a revolutionary stage in the gaming industry and will bring substantial changes in various domains, including social networking, content streaming, video conferencing, entertainment and remote work.

As societal trends evolve, there is a noticeable shift in consumption patterns, extending beyond the basic needs outlined in Maslow's hierarchy. The increasing amount of time people spend online is significantly shaping their identity, influencing their choices, and strengthening their connections to their digital possessions. This transition into a new dimension of reality is expected to enhance the utility of virtual assets like fashion, real estate, vehicles, and other items, not only in our digital lives but also in real-life (IRL) contexts. This shift is reminiscent of the transformative impact the internet had on learning, transacting, and communicating. Virtual realities are poised to offer even more engaging, immersive, and creatively rich digital environments.

In this evolving landscape, ZERO provides a foundational protocol stack for building decentralized virtual societies. This stack encompasses a comprehensive array of components such as onchain ownership, payment systems, governance structures, economic models, and gameplay mechanics.

Additionally, ZERO has been developing ZSPACE, a world-building software development kit (SDK) designed for Unreal Engine 5 that natively integrates all ZERO protocols and subsystems. The first example of a metaverse project leveraging this technology is Wilder World, which was initiated in 2021. This project stands as one of the first in a series of experiments utilizing the capabilities of the ZERO and ZSPACE systems to create an expansive, interconnected, and interoperable immersive virtual reality.

Network States

Eras are defined by advances in coordination technology. Whether it was the creation of mathematics, language, modern law or the printing press, the highest leverage technologies move human collaboration capacity to the next level. Similar to the separation of church and state during the period of the renaissance, the network state proposes the separation of state and network, moving constitutional sovereignty from the domain of traditional politics and government into digital networks. With the rise of the internet, crypto and AI, it is clear that modern networks can coordinate people and value at or beyond the capacity of legacy nations.

Network states propose the idea of moving digital coordination energy into physical property and law, creating what is effectively a new type of country. Unlike traditional countries that begin with land, network states begin as digital entities, that can eventually move to have their own sovereign land. As the network scales, a cryptographically verifiable census takes place to audit the growing size of its population, income, assets and real-estate footprint. Overtime, the network state negotiates diplomatic recognition from pre-existing governments, gradually increasing its sovereignty.

The ZERO protocol provides the core building blocks and primitives to have coordination happen at societal scale, whether digital or otherwise. Tokens can serve as units of account and mediums of exchange, DAOs can serve as societal governance systems to coordinate critical decision making and the means of production, ZXP can aid in the creation of advanced reputation systems, and ZNS can serve as a general-purpose registry for the ownership of scarce physical resources and virtual network space.