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Cortex is a blockchain project that’s building machine learning tools for creating decentralized and autonomous AI systems. Users can use it to create smart contracts and develop artificially intelligent decentralized applications (AI DApps).

Ethereum introduced smart contracts that can execute simple computations on the blockchain, but its smart contracts are a collection of purely rule-based and recursive programs that aren’t self-evolving. For this reason, they cannot satisfy the application of real-world AI.

Cortex enables developers to use artificial intelligence to create “smart AI contracts,” which will dramatically expand the potential for smart contracts and dApps on the blockchain. This will make it possible for smart contracts to autonomously respond to external signals, including signals developers don’t anticipate.

Cortex’s main mission is to provide state-of-the-art machine learning models on the blockchain. It brings together open models of a variety of basic smart applications, which will greatly accelerate research on machine learning and drive AI adoption. Its goal is to implement a machine learning platform that allows users to submit AI data models and make inferences to those models by calling smart AI contracts and creating their own AI DApps.

How Cortex Works

The Cortex blockchain will use Cuckoo Cycle: a memory-hard proof-of-work (PoW) consensus system. Cuckoo Cycle is less than half the size of SHA256 algorithm used by Bitcoin and narrows the gap between CPU and GPU speedup ratio, allowing for lean and mean mining. The network may switch to PoS, DAG, or another solution in the future to circumvent the block size and transaction throughput limitations of PoW.

Cortex uses an incentive mechanism to encourage collective collaboration. Anyone can submit AI models to the platform or optimize existing ones. Those who contribute earn rewards, creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to participate as a way to generate the best solutions.

Cortex uses “Endorphins” as a pricing unit, which is similar to Ethereum’s gas mechanism, and separate from Cortex’s native cryptocurrency (CTXC). A user must pay Endorphins every time they initiate a transaction, execute a smart contract, or make an AI model inference.

The amount needed will depend on the difficulty of the model operation, but it will be proportional to the size of the model. The Endorphins paid out are split between the miners who confirm the new block and the model provider. This is meant to motivate developers to submit better models.

Cortex Virtual Machine

Cortex provides a submission interface for AI models called the Cortex Virtual Machine (CVM). It parses uploaded models into a model string with parameters for the storage layer and provides a generic interface smart contract developers can use for inference. The model provider can use CVM to withdraw and update their model if needed.

Cortex uses a key-value storage system, such as libtorrent and IPFS, to save models in its storage layer. Instead of storing models and data on-chain, Cortex only stores the hash values of models and data. The chain’s full node storage capacity is limited and it can’t save all the models on the network, so model data is cached and maintained locally by a full node.

The model provider will need to pay a fee to keep their model in the storage layer, which is another reason why part of the fee paid by users for smart contract inference calls is given to the model provider.

Smart AI Contracts

Developers can use CVM to write smart AI contracts and build machine learning programs on the blockchain that can interact with conventional smart contracts. For example, a smart AI contract could be written to make the cats on Ethereum’s Cryptokitties game dynamic, intelligent, and evolutionary. Cortex also enables AI interface calls for other blockchains.

Smart AI contracts may initiate inference calls, but all nodes must agree with the inferred results. The inference implementation process is as follows:

1. The node locates the model in the storage layer by querying the model index and downloading the model string and corresponding data parameter.
2. The model string is parsed into executable code using the Cortex model representation tool.
3. The code is executed through the CVM and the results are broadcast by the node for consensus.

Cortex Potential Use Cases

The Cortex blockchain could host AI DApps with a variety of use cases:

Information Services – These include image search engine, news writing, personalized recommendation systems, and automated text summaries.

Financial Services – Calculating credit score rating based on a user’s online data, and intelligent investment advisory based on financial data available online.

AI Assistant – Speech synthesis based on a user’s speech data, facial recognition based on user-uploaded data like age, gender, and other attributes, automated chat bots, and industry knowledge graphing in medical, consulting and other industries.

Simulations – An AI DApp can be trained to predict outputs in simulated environments and make intelligent decisions, e.g. automated driving, games, etc.

CTXC Trading Volume, Price and Market Cap

The total supply of CTXC caps at 299,792,458 coins. They are distributed as follows:

– 50% is set aside for mining rewards
– 20% was sold in a private ICO
– 25% is held by Cortex Lab for marketing and bounties
– 5% is set aside for advisors, academics, community members

Cortex had a private ICO that ended on March 7, 2018. The token sale raised 40,000 ETH and sold off 20% of the total supply. FBG Capital and Bitmain were lead investors in the token sale.

CTXC was first listed on the market at $0.81 USD in April 2018. Its market cap at the time was ~$112 million USD. It reached an all-time high of $2.39 with market cap $358 million the following month. Its value is now experiencing a downward trend, but will likely pick up once the testnets for mining and smart AI contracts go live.

Buying, Storing and Selling CTXC

CTXC can be acquired from Huobi, OKEx, BitForex, CoinTiger, CoinBene, CoinEx, Ethfinex, DragonEX, and Ethfinex.

CTXC is an ERC20 token until the mainnet goes live. That means it can be securely stored in any Ethereum wallet that supports the standard, including MyEtherWallet (MEW), Jaxx, Exodus, MetaMask, and Parity. Hardware wallet options include Trezor and the Ledger Nano S (together with MEW).

Liquidity of CTXC

Cortex has good market liquidity. Its goal is to become a leader in the field of machine learning on the blockchain, but it will be a few years before anything meaningful comes out of this project. A testnet for mining is scheduled to go live in Q3 2018 and a testnet for smart AI contracts will launch in Q1 2019. The mainnet will go live in Q2 2019.