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NEAR Protocol preps for AI announcements to boost web3

While Donovan could not provide specifics, he hinted at exciting AI-related announcements coming in the next few months.

NEAR AI-web3 logo in gold on teal.

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In an interview with Crypto Briefing, Chris Donovan, COO of NEAR Foundation, discussed Near Protocol’s vision for integrating AI into the web3 ecosystem and driving mass adoption, among other topics.

AI integration and web3 mission

Near Protocol, which began as an AI project before pivoting to blockchain, sees significant potential in the intersection of web3 and AI. Donovan emphasized that an open web, where users own their data and assets and have governance power, is essential. He warned that developing AI in closed, profit-driven environments could lead to dystopian outcomes.

“We think that if someone doesn’t do this in the right way, and we feel very well positioned to do it for all the reasons we discussed, the open web might not be something that’s achievable,” Donovan said.

With co-founder Illia Polosukhin’s background as a pioneer in transformer technology and the co-author of the influential paper “Attention Is All You Need,” Near is well-positioned to make strides in this space. Donovan hinted at upcoming announcements over the next few months that will showcase how the ecosystem is gearing up for the web3-AI intersection.

Donovan emphasized the importance of developing AI in an open, decentralized environment to avoid the negative consequences of closed, profit-driven systems.

He stated, “If you want to guarantee an open web, you also have to guarantee an environment where AI can be developed in a truly open and irrevocably open way, and it needs an economy around it to sustain that openness moving forward.”

User experience and account aggregation

Near Protocol is working on chain abstraction to improve the user experience for both developers and end users. A key part of this is account aggregation – creating a single entry point for all web3 experiences. Near is also utilizing Fastauth technology to mimic web2 onboarding, allowing users to set up an account with face scanning and then transact on any blockchain.

“These large scale consumer applications will drive mass adoption,” Donovan noted, highlighting Near’s ecosystem of dapps with millions of monthly active users like Sweat Economy,, and PlayAmber. “And look, there’s gonna be multiple ways to get to mass adoption. It’s definitely not a zero sum game. But we think that our positioning is one of the ways we think is giving us a great shot at getting it.”

Strategy towards user acquisition and web2 collaboration

Near has focused on user acquisition over the past 12-18 months, targeting web2 projects that can easily scale due to established businesses. However, Donovan emphasized that Near is an open, permissionless ecosystem welcoming all types of founders and builders.

The protocol has attracted web2 companies like Cosmos, which moved its payment rails from Stripe to Near for lower costs and higher efficiency. Near is also seeing growth in web3-native projects like Hot wallet, which launched 3 months ago and already has over 5 million users.

Near’s 100% uptime

Thanks to its scalable, sharded layer one blockchain architecture, Near Protocol has maintained 100% uptime since its mainnet launch, Donovan reported. In contrast, he noted that there have been other competing blockchains that have recently faced significant congestion and up to 70% transaction failures.

“Whenever we see potential congestion arriving, the core development team is able just to create a new shard,” Donovan explained. Some large projects even have their own dedicated shard. “That almost entirely eliminates the congestion and potential transaction failure risk, which is another key element of that mass adoption user experience.”

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