Project

ONTOCHAIN: Trusted, transparent and traceable ontological knowledge on blockchain

Goal: During the last years we are witnessing an ever increasing number of Internet-based marketplaces that capitalize on the unused capacity of assets they already possess, while consumers can receive services from their peers owning assets either for free or at a lower cost. At the same time, the emergence of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts have enabled new distributed application ecosystems, e.g., Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Stellar, Waves, etc., where new services can be deployed with low-entry market barriers, due to minimal infrastructure costs and decentralized and secure transaction management. Innovative business models arise where part of the value generated by these distributed apps is fed back to the distributed blockchain community, as remuneration for their contribution of computational resources. Companies and organizations still require trust: they need to understand their user base, verify identity, manage digital assets, and control trust issuance within their ecosystem. To maximize the market impact of this new economic environment, OntoChain aims to enable trustworthy transactions of services and content. OntoChain will define innovative decentralized reputation models that reveal hidden quality and/or type of providers/services, or credibility of data sources, while adequately balancing the trade-off between privacy and trust. OntoChain will enable trustworthy and traceable content handling
where authorized parties can process data according to the privacy policies of the data owners. At the same time, it will build an economically sustainable ecosystem, where the total value generated in the system, in terms of profit or well-being, surpasses the total operational costs in terms of electricity consumption. In order to sustain the user community, OntoChain will aim on fair sharing of the generated value among resource contributors and provide appropriate incentives to the user community for participation.

Date: 1 September 2020 - 31 August 2023

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Project log

Vlado Stankovski
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During the past few hundred years humanity has generated an immense body of knowledge. With the invention of the Internet, the Semantic Web and associated services, it is now possible for people World-wide to participate in the generation and use of knowledge more than it has been ever before. However, many Internet-based services have become in past decades too influential and they present only their viewpoint to a great number of people.
People should be empowered by means for collective organisation, contribution and use of knowledge by using methods that support plurality and democracy. In this context, the two incompleteness theorems, published by Kurt Gödel in 1931 provide us with two options: we can build logic systems that are either consistent and therefore incomplete or complete and therefore inconsistent. ONTOCHAIN aims at exploring the limits of knowledge management solutions that can essentially be trusted within highly decentralised and dynamically evolving ecosystems.
Semantic Web and Blockchain need to marry at some point to provide a trusted knowledge backbone for the Next Generation Internet. They both have their commonalities, for example, ontologies are formal, explicit specifications of shared conceptualisations, while blockchains are tamper-evident, shared digital ledgers that record transactions in a public or private peer-to-peer network. Renowned Shakespearean director Terry Hands described Shakespeare’s plays as having ‘their feet in the mud and their eyes on the stars’, and Shakespearean is the way followed by the NGI ONTOCHAIN project. While being practical and addressing user needs in several application domains including trustworthy web and social media, trustworthy crowdsensing, trustworthy service orchestration, and decentralised and unsupervised online social networks, the project aims high to achieve an ONTOCHAIN architecture and software ecosystem components design that may scale to the size of the Internet and serve the trusted knowledge and information needs of humanity.
Today, semantically complex, decentralised and dynamically evolving ecosystems that are in great need for trusted knowledge management exist in many domains of human endeavour. This includes health, economy, mobility, public services, energy and sustainability, news, media, entertainment, Industry 4.0, tourism and so on. The project will explore many such domain and seek to find representative use cases for implementation. Essential novelty of ONTOCHAIN are also its business models that apply to such trusted knowledge intensive ecosystems of actors and resources.
NGI ONTOCHAIN explores and delivers novel interoperable on-chain and off-chain data, ontology, knowledge and information management methods. The NGI ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem consists of a novel protocol suite grouped into high-level application protocols, such as data provenance, reputation models, decentralised oracles, market mechanisms, ontology representation and management, privacy aware and secure data exchange, multi-source identity verification, value sharing and incentives and similar, and core protocols that include smart contracts, authorisation, certification, event gateways, identity management and identification, secure and privacy aware decentralised storage, data semantics and semantic linking, ONTOCHAIN optimisation and similar.
The NGI ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem will demonstrate its potential in high impact domains for trustworthy information exchange and trustworthy and transactional content handling.
ONTOCHAIN will build its software ecosystem in close cooperation with the scientific and professional communities involving end-users and experts in various domains including Semantic Web, Linked Data, ontology engineering, blockchain interoperability, knowledge management, distributed and decentralised computing, business models for trusted knowledge, and similar. Three open calls are foreseen that will refine the initial ONTOCHAIN architecture and provide detailed design and implementation of its interoperable system components. The open calls will distribute a total amount of 4.2 M focusing on research, foundations and applications in three consecutive steps. The project aims at building a community of users and developers of the ONTOCHAIN software ecosystem.
The ONTOCHAIN project supports academia and high-tech companies in its three consecutive research and innovation phases: Phase 1: Research (research proposals, awards, and challenges for conferences), Phase 2: Protocol Suite & Software Ecosystem Foundations (prototypes and solutions) and Phase 3: Applications and Experimentation (prototypes and solutions). The ONTOCHAIN Consortium provides coaching and mentoring for the stakeholders towards our common goal to deliver a software ecosystem for trusted knowledge management with novel on-chain and off-chain data, metadata, ontologies, knowledge and information methods. This process will lead towards an ONTOCHAIN community, a group of researchers and innovators that have stakes in the marriage between the Semantic Web and Blockchain.
The project is operated by 7 partners with complementary expertise that form the core of a vibrant ecosystem: European Dynamics (Luxembourg), UL (University of Ljubljana), IntelliSemantic (Italy), iExec Blockchain Tech (France), Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece), German Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Greece) and F6S (Ireland).
Acknowledgment
NGI ONTOCHAIN has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement no. 957338.
 
Vlado Stankovski
added a project goal
During the last years we are witnessing an ever increasing number of Internet-based marketplaces that capitalize on the unused capacity of assets they already possess, while consumers can receive services from their peers owning assets either for free or at a lower cost. At the same time, the emergence of cryptocurrencies and smart contracts have enabled new distributed application ecosystems, e.g., Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Stellar, Waves, etc., where new services can be deployed with low-entry market barriers, due to minimal infrastructure costs and decentralized and secure transaction management. Innovative business models arise where part of the value generated by these distributed apps is fed back to the distributed blockchain community, as remuneration for their contribution of computational resources. Companies and organizations still require trust: they need to understand their user base, verify identity, manage digital assets, and control trust issuance within their ecosystem. To maximize the market impact of this new economic environment, OntoChain aims to enable trustworthy transactions of services and content. OntoChain will define innovative decentralized reputation models that reveal hidden quality and/or type of providers/services, or credibility of data sources, while adequately balancing the trade-off between privacy and trust. OntoChain will enable trustworthy and traceable content handling
where authorized parties can process data according to the privacy policies of the data owners. At the same time, it will build an economically sustainable ecosystem, where the total value generated in the system, in terms of profit or well-being, surpasses the total operational costs in terms of electricity consumption. In order to sustain the user community, OntoChain will aim on fair sharing of the generated value among resource contributors and provide appropriate incentives to the user community for participation.