ICON (ICX), erroneously labelled “the Korean Ethereum” (there is a lot of semantic noise and confusion in the terminology of ‘crypto economics’ still) is a project I stumbled upon lately that immediately aroused my curiosity as the white paper begins with the following quote:
“A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance. The tree imposes the verb “to be” but the fabric of the rhizome is the conjunction, “and … and …and…”This conjunction carries enough force to shake and uproot the verb “to be.” Where are you going? Where are you coming from? What are you heading for? These are totally useless questions.”
— “Mille Plateaux” , Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari
A little further down:
“ICON is inspired by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s rhizome – “the world with no center point and the world where any point is a mere connection to other points.” ICON is a connector of disparate cryptocurrencies with different blockchain governances, and furthermore, a connector of the crypto world to our real world. ICON embraces the new and the unfamiliar, the principle of radical inclusion – accept new ideas and decisions made by the new republic established by ever-changing crypto-to-real world connections.”
Having myself done my Deleuze & Guattari few times over and being something of a Deleuzian myself, found out ICON resonating my own thoughts on the matter in the past year, so I spent the whole day and night delving further into the matter (also now living in Asia for over an year).
For those of you in the humanities that are familiar (or not), I think it worthwhile to continue quoting from the original D&G magnum opus “A Thousand Plateaus” (written 1980), Chapter 1 — the conceptual descritpion of the so-called ‘rhizome‘:
“We get the distinct feeling that we will convince no one unless we enumerate certain approximate characteristics of the rhizome.
1 and 2. Principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other, and must be. […] On the contrary, not every trait in a rhizome is necessarily linked to a linguistic feature: semiotic chains of every nature are connected to very diverse modes of coding (biological, political, economic, etc.) that bring into play not only different regimes of signs but also states of things of differing status. Collective assemblages of enunciation function directly within machinic assemblages; it is not impossible to make a radical break between regimes of signs and their objects.
A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. A semiotic chain is like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts, not only linguistic, but also perceptive, mimetic, gestural, and cognitive: there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, slangs, and specialized languages.A rhizome ceaselessly establishes connections between semiotic chains, organizations of power, and circumstances relative to the arts, sciences, and social struggles. A semiotic chain is like a tuber agglomerating very diverse acts, not only linguistic, but also perceptive, mimetic, gestural, and cognitive: there is no language in itself, nor are there any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects, patois, slangs, and specialized languages.
Language is, in Weinreich’s words, “an essentially heterogeneous reality.” There is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language within a political multiplicity. [..] Language stabilizes around a parish, a bishopric, a capital. It forms a bulb. It evolves by subterranean stems and flows, along river valleys or train tracks; it spreads like a patch of oil.
There is always something genealogical about a tree. It is not a method for the people. A method of the rhizome type, on the contrary, can analyze language only by decentering it onto other dimensions and other registers. A language is never closed upon itself, except as a function of impotence.
3. Principle of multiplicity: A multiplicity has neither subject nor object, only determinations, magnitudes, and dimensions that cannot increase in number without the multiplicity changing in nature (the laws of combination therefore increase in number as the multiplicity grows).
Puppet strings, as a rhizome or multiplicity, are tied not to the supposed will of an artist or puppeteer but to a multiplicity of nerve fibers, which form another puppet in other dimensions connected to the first: “Call the strings or rods that move the puppet the weave. It might be objected that its multiplicity resides in the person of the actor, who projects it into the text. Granted; but the actor’s nerve fibers in turn form a weave. And they fall through the gray matter, the grid, into the undifferentiated… . The interplay approximates the pure activity of weavers attributed in myth to the Fates or Norns.” An assemblage is precisely this increase in the dimensions of a multiplicity that necessarily changes in nature as it expands its connections. There are no points or positions in a rhizome, such as those found in a structure, tree, or root. There are only lines. When Glenn Gould speeds up the performance of a piece, he is not just displaying virtuosity, he is transforming the musical points into lines, he is making the whole piece proliferate.
The ideal for a book would be to lay everything out on a plane of exteriority of this kind, on a single page, the same sheet: lived events, historical determinations, concepts, individuals, groups, social formations.
Kleist invented a writing of this type, a broken chain of affects and variable speeds, with accelerations and transformations, always in a relation with the outside. Open rings. His texts, therefore, are opposed in every way to the classical or romantic book constituted by the interiority of a substance or subject. The war machine-book against the State apparatus-book. Flat multiplicities of n dimensions are asignifying and asubjective.
4. Principle of asignifying rupture: against the oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure. A rhizome may be broken, shattered at a given spot, but it will start up again on one of its old lines, or on new lines. You can never get rid of ants because they form an animal rhizome that can rebound time and again after most of it has been destroyed. Every rhizome contains lines of segmentarity according to which it is stratified, territorialized, organized, signified, attributed, etc., as well as lines of deterritorialization down which it constantly flees. There is a rupture in the rhizome whenever segmentary lines explode into a line of flight, but the line of flight is part of the rhizome. These lines always tie back to one another. That is why one can never posit a dualism or a dichotomy, even in the rudimentary form of the good and the bad.
5 and 6. Principle of cartography and decalcomania: The tree articulates and hierarchizes tracings; tracings are like the leaves of a tree. The rhizome is altogether different, a map and not a tracing. Make a map, not a tracing. The orchid does not reproduce the tracing of the wasp; it forms a map with the wasp, in a rhizome. What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real.”
Michel Foucault’s famous statement of how the 21th century will be Deleuzian resounds here. Slavoj Zizek calls Deleuze “a prophet of capitalism”.
But let’s get a little down to Earth and mention some facts and rumors. Currently ICX is an ERC20 token on the Ethereum network, planned launch of the ICON mainnet is tomorrow, with Binance automatically migrating one’s ETH tokens to the ICX network. Current price/token: $7.81.
ICON is likely one of the most ambitious projects out there aiming to solve one inevitable problem in the crypto market — how do different blockchains work and interface with each other?
They intend to ‘hyperconnect’ the world on the global (and inter-planetary, if you like cyberpunk) level enabling all possible blockchains to interact with each other through what is called C-Representitive portals and delegated PoWs.
It is useful to think of this in terms of the three levels of organization: local, state, international, with ICON encompassing all three. The ICON network allows for each community to autonomosly define its own adequate policies and appropriate system parameters while reliably connecting to other communities whenever needed.
The so-called Nexus and loopchain (which they open sourced earlier this year) are the spaces where different ledgers can connect and talk, and the tokens are the microphones through which they can communicate (utilizing a BTP – Blockchain Transmission Protocol, akin to the current TCP/IP).
On the top level ICON has developed its own consensus algorithm called Loop Fault Tolerance which supports Byzantine Fault Tolerance.
The technological specifications and documentation (far as I could dig) are still largely in Korean with the white paper giving a very basic overview of the architecture, but it is important to consider the following factors:
ICON has a team of experts across various many disciplines, about 300 engineers, 50 developers, the full backing of its government and partnership with financial instituions, academia and multi-national companies (rumors about striking one with VISA soon), and has been operational in South Korea (after all, considered the most technologically advanced nation in the world) for some time now.
Korea has even recently announced that it will no longer use digital certificates, but will be working with ICON for all major sites and banking certifications [link: http://cm.asiae.co.kr/view.
Their ‘testing ground’ is most South Korean University campuses, and let’s also not forget the cultural aspect Asian discipline and what Zizek aptly calls “capitalism with Asian values”.
A big majority (~45%) of investors are European, Asia coming second.
ICX token can be bought on Binance currently.
While Bitcoin, Ethereum and other top market cap projects continue to dominate, if ICON delivers on its promises and pulls off what it intends to, the battle could soon end without ever having been a fight, making ICX hodlers really happy.
The full ICON white paper [link: http://docs.icon.foundation/