Avalanche Summit 2023 Recap

Avalanche Summit II attracted more than 3000 attendees and 300 speakers for a three-day event in the beautiful setting of Poble Espanyol in Barcelona. In this article, we take a look at the highlights and breakdown some of the most groundbreaking topics of this year’s Avalanche Summit.

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@enter.artPUBLISHED 11TH MAY 2023

Last week, we set sail for one of the highlights of the year, Avalanche Summit 2. The now annual conference (read: party) is set in the beautiful, historic area of Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, and brings together all the brightest minds of the Avalanche ecosystem as well as the most innovative people of tech, art, and finance.

With more than 3000 attendees and 125 talks and panel debates spread on 7 stages, it is a true inspiration to anyone building in our space. We went to put our finger on the pulse of everything Avalanche, and to sample the free food and fantastic afterparties, and brought enter.blog with us to give you a taste of what went down this lovely spring week in Barcelona.

Let’s explore the highlights of panels and talks we encountered and a few of our key takeouts from the week. 

As we entered the eco-dome on the first day of the summit, the air was buzzing with excitement and lovely tunes as we all awaited Avalanche Founder Dr. Emin Gün Sirrer to kick off the conference with an inspiring welcome speech that made it hard not to be bullish on Avalanche. 

Gaming in Web3

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The Economics of Play: Designing Sustainable Reward Systems for Blockchain Gaming with Rosie Perper, Nick Metzler, Francis Brankin, Bolon and Lisa Tan.

Next up on the schedule was an educational and well-balanced panel discussion regarding the economics of play, how web3 games can design sustainable and motivating in-game economies, and how web3 is paving the way for new, exciting monetization opportunities for traditional game developers. As one panelist put it: “F2P is fundamentally broken.” While interest rates continue to rise along with user acquisition and user retention costs, the gaming industry is hungry for a new monetization model that does not include competing against some of the old heavy hitters of F2P, like Candy Crush or Farmville. Web3 is a great answer to the woes of the gaming industry since the utilization of tokens is a fantastic way to address both user acquisition and user retention. While the jury is still out on whether a single-token or multi-token approach is most feasible to designing great reward systems, there seems to be widespread agreement that web3 is the answer gaming has been looking for.

Another interesting panel debate touched on the importance of putting user design first in web3 gaming. Gaming projects ought to work toward reducing friction and building quality games that players want to play for the sake of playing them. In this sense, tokens should be an incentive for user acquisition and retention, but not the reason people play the game. In the future, we should expect gas-less gaming and simpler wallet creation flows.

TradFi x Web3

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Be Your Own Bank with Ken Olling.

At their talk, Meld pulled aside the curtain and gave us some much-anticipated alpha on their plans for Q2 and Q3. As Meld bridges to new blockchains and utilizes subnets to enable and scale their operation, we can expect their Neobank and meld.fi app to go live on the 1st of August, allowing users to earn, save, spend, and swap at very competitive rates.

One of the most inspiring talks at the conference was hosted by the Lemonade Foundation, as they pulled aside the veil on what they’ve been working on in Kenya for the last while. The Lemonade Crypto Coalition, a DAO constituted by Avalanche, Chainlink, DAOstack, Lemonade, Etherisc, Hannover Re, and Pula, aims to deliver at-cost insurance to subsistence farmers all over the world.

At present, the case for insuring subsistence farmers within traditional finance is a dire one. Low payouts and premiums make the case unappealing for both insurers and distributors since the low monetary value means it’s almost impossible to make a profit on subsistence farmers. Their solution is to make a DAO instead of a corporation, make it non-profit instead of for-profit, and utilize smart contracts instead of policy documents. Farmers can sign themselves up via feature phones in seconds, and because of Chainlink’s efforts to get weather reports onto the blockchain, insurance payouts can be conducted automatically without the farmer even having to request it. Since they’re using Avalanche, transactions are eco-friendly and cheap. At present, the Lemonade Crypto Climate Coalition has already insured more than 7000 farmers in Kenya. 

The NFT Space on Avalanche

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Everything Avaissance with Tiffany Lai, Dave Krugmann, Emonee Larussa and Ludovica Rosi.

This year’s Avalanche Summit featured an unprecedented number of participants from the NFT space - a testament to the growth the space has seen on Avalanche over the last year.

To further develop the NFT space, Avalanche has launched their artist incubator programme: Avaissance (think renaissance pronunciation-wise).

Avaissance’s Artist-In-Residence program allows 50+ artists to be mentored by leading figures from most NFT genres. Mentees will get one-on-one lessons and sparring with their mentor, while anyone can follow their lectures online.

One of the biggest projects on Avalanche, Chikn, unveiled some exciting new stuff at their talk as well. Holders can look forward to fresh new artwork on their NFTs that moves slightly away from the realism they’re used to and toward a more cartoonish look. Concurrently, they announced their new game, “COQ Fight”, where holders of Chikns can pit their Chickns against each other to see who has the biggest cock. An excellent way to settle Twitter disputes. Holders will be able to equip their NFTs with weapons and armor to improve their chances of beating other players.

So, what’s next for Avalanche?

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The World of Web3 according to Avalanche with John Nahas.

Avalanche had a lot of exciting announcements to make at this year’s Summit. One of those is their new Enterprise solution, AvaCloud, which allows anyone to deploy their own subnet within minutes. This changes the game somewhat, as it gives enterprises an easy and straightforward way to customize their own blockchain solution to suit their needs instead of them having to try and fit into an existing blockchain. With this, Avalanche hopes to spearhead adoption and give enterprises an easy and hassle-free way to get their business on their own customizable blockchain.

Once again, the Crypto Carbon Rating Institute has published its yearly report on the state of blockchain and carbon emissions. While the question of the climate impact of blockchain seems redundant to some, after Ethereum switched to PoS, the question is important to address for regulators, enterprises, governments, and end-users.

According to CCRI, BTC now accounts for 95% of all energy consumption associated with crypto, and PoS networks consume 10000x less energy than their PoW counterparts. In that regard, the “big sinners” remain PoW chains, while Avalanche remains one of the blockchains with the absolute lowest energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Coin Operated Agents - Madness or Genius?

One of the most exciting talks at the conference was Dr. Emin Gün Sirrer’s talk about Coin-Operated Agents. In his own words, this idea does indeed balance on the razor edge between genius and madness.

The problem consists in the semantic gaps between intention -> code -> bytecode. Generally understood, most exploits and scams in crypto happen because of the mismatch between the intention of the developer (or user) and the code in the smart contract. Most projects that end up having a vulnerability exploited probably did not intend for that vulnerability to be present in their code. In a similar vein, most users who have their wallet drained did not intend to give a smart contract permission to drain their wallet. So how do we bridge the semantic gap between the intention of the user and the code of the smart contract?

Gün Sirrer’s proposed solution involves incorporating Large Language Models (LLMs) into the blockchain to bridge this gap and allow both developers and users to interact with the blockchain in plain English. At its most basic, creating a smart contract would involve explaining the concept to the LLM (ex. “This transaction creates a lending protocol that…”). This means no bytecode and no programmers(!!!), or maybe everyone is a programmer now?

Similarly, signing a transaction to interact with a smart contract will also be remarkably different. At present, the majority of users sign the transaction and hope for the best, while only a minority have the means to actually sit down and read the contract they’re signing. In Gün Sirrer’s framework, we would instead specify in English (or Arabic, Mandarin, etc.) what we’d like the transaction to do. It could look a little bit like this “This transaction pays $5000 to the fundraising effort to resurrect the Firefly series, but only if the director can raise a sum total of $30m”. In that sense, users can explicitly express their intent by signing the transaction, and they only agree to what’s specified in the transaction, not the entire contract.

So is this even a good idea? In Gün Sirrer’s own words, it’s an experiment we cannot afford not to perform. While this would, in theory, make smart contract programming much more accessible and give users full clarity about the intent of a smart contract, it’s remarkably difficult to specify protocols in human language. We can expect many spectacular failures, and billions will probably be lost. On the upside, we might be rid of smart contract programming and audits forever, and billions could be onboarded to crypto via this framework. 

All in all, an exciting Summit with lots of inspiring talks, divisive debates and great people. Over the next year, we'll see the effect of Avalanche's enterprise solutions, how the subnets and NFT-space develops, and whether Coin-Operated Agents turn out to be madness or a stroke of genius. We look forward to seeing the progress at next year's Summit. 

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