After many long months of development, we’re excited to finally come out of stealth mode and introduce Ritual to the world. We started Ritual with a clear goal in mind: to merge the best principles and techniques of cryptography and artificial intelligence to create a system that enables open and permissionless creation, distribution and improvement of AI models. We spent significant time reflecting on our own experiences in building similar systems, engaging with industry experts and iterating on what that goal tangibly meant, and we’re excited to finally share our roadmap and vision with the community at large.
The Confluence of Crypto ⇔ AI
AI is by far the most expressive form of computing ever invented, and the past year in particular has seen a Cambrian explosion in new models, applications and demand for GPU compute. While the bases for many of these models are not necessarily new—the seminal paper on Transformer architecture "Attention is All You Need", for example, was written by Google researchers (including our advisor Illia Polosukhin) in 2017—the rapid consumer adoption of applications like ChatGPT have catalyzed innovations in foundational model architectures and other techniques.
The current AI stack isn’t perfect however. In particular, we see a few core problems:
- Lack of strong SLAs: Existing platforms don’t offer any guarantees around computational integrity (i.e. Was this model run correctly?), privacy (of both inputs and outputs into models), and censorship-resistance (limiting censorship of models, applications and geographies)
- Permissioned and centralized APIs: Existing infrastructure is hosted by a few centralized corporations, limiting developers and users from building native integrations and leading to liveness issues
- High compute costs and limited HW access: AI hardware is becoming increasingly difficult to procure for developers, and hardware providers charge massive rakes for developers
- Oligopolistic and structurally misaligned: Organizations are either incentivized to keep their models closed-source, thus stifling innovation and centralizing power, or open-source their models understanding that there is a lack of appropriate infrastructure to reward them for their contributions. Users additionally have limited to no say in the governance and ownership of AI today.
As it turns out, many of these problems are familiar to those that have previously worked in crypto. We believe that we can apply many of the principles and techniques that go into designing blockchains and protocols built on top to address these challenges, drawing on innovations in cryptography, game theory and mechanism design.
Conversely, bringing access to AI models will be critical to the evolution of crypto. From base layer infrastructure to applications, AI models can be used to encapsulate complex logic and enable new applications previously not feasible with just smart contracts. We imagine a world where users can, for example, generate transactions and interact with contracts using natural language, or where agents are automatically managing risk parameters for lending protocols based on real-time market conditions. There are a plethora of fascinating use cases- all that’s missing is the right infrastructure to bridge the gap between accessing models and utilizing them on-chain.
Ritual: The Intersection of Two Worlds
Ritual is a response to these aforementioned problems. Fundamentally, it is envisioned as an open, modular, sovereign execution layer for AI. Ritual brings together a distributed network of nodes with access to compute and model creators, and enables said creators to host their models on these nodes. Users are then able to access any model on this network—whether its an LLM or a classical ML model—with one common API, and the network has additional cryptographic infrastructure that allows for guarantees around computational integrity and privacy.
Infernet is the first evolution of Ritual. Infernet takes AI to where on-chain applications live today by exposing powerful interfaces for smart contracts to access AI models for inference. It’s the first building block in a suite of protocols and utilities that we will be releasing to enable anyone to seamlessly build on top of Ritual and get permissionless access to our network of model and compute providers.
The grand vision for Ritual is to become the schelling point of AI in the web3 space by evolving Infernet into a modular suite of execution layers that interop with other base layer infrastructure in the ecosystem, allowing every protocol and application on any chain to use Ritual as a AI Coprocessor.
Who we are
We’re a team of passionate builders that marries deep expertise across distributed systems, cryptography, and AI with a long-term commitment to the crypto space. We’ve helped build and invest in many household names in industry, and are excited to tackle this new frontier.
We’re also excited to work with a world-class set of advisors, including Illia Polosukhin, Co-Founder of NEAR Protocol and Co-Creator of Transformers (“Attention is All You Need”), Sreeram Kannan, Founder of EigenLayer and Associate Professor of CS at University of Washington, and Tarun Chitra, Founder/CEO of Gauntlet and GP @ Robot Ventures.
Our Series A
We’re also excited to announce a $25m financing for the company, led by Archetype. They’re joined by other top-tier investors including Accomplice, Robot Ventures, dao5, Accel, Dialectic, Anagram, Avra, and Hypersphere. Angels in the round include Balaji Srinivasan, Nicola Greco, Chase Lochmiller, DC Builder, Keone Hon of Monad, Sergey Gorbunov and Georgios Vlachos of Axelar, Kevin Pang of SCP, Daniel Shorr & Ryan Cao of Modulus, Grug, Scott Sunarto, devops199fan, Ambush Capital, and many others.
This financing will help us expand our team, start growing our developer network, and start seeding the network.
We’re always looking for driven and ambitious talent. If our mission resonates with you, check out our Careers page. If you’re interested in integrating with Ritual, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any investment and should not be used in the evaluation of the merits of making any investment decision. It should not be relied upon for accounting, legal or tax advice or investment recommendations. The information in this post should not be construed as a promise or guarantee in connection with the release or development of any future products, services or digital assets. This post reflects the current opinions of the authors and is not made on behalf of Ritual or its affiliates and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Ritual, its affiliates or individuals associated with Ritual. All information in this post is provided without any representation or warranty of any kind. The opinions reflected herein are subject to change without being updated.