Cardano’s development is guided by a methodical, research-based, and deliberate approach to innovation. Over five development phases, IOG introduced innovations, new functionality, and novel features, with each phase building upon the previous phase's achievements.
Chapter 1. Byron: the foundation of Cardano
Chapter 2. Shelley: decentralizing the blockchain
Chapter 3. Goguen: introducing native tokens and smart contracts
Chapter 4. Basho: scaling Cardano
Chapter 5. Voltaire: self-sustainability and governance
Decentralized governance and decision-making lie at the heart of Voltaire. Voltaire provides the Cardano community with the ability to decide on network development updates, technical improvements, and project funding. For the Cardano network to become truly decentralized, it requires not only the distributed infrastructure introduced during Shelley, but also the capacity to be maintained and improved over time in a decentralized way.
Voltaire focuses on the implementation of the final components required for the Cardano network to become a self-sustainable system. The introduction of a treasury system is one such component designed to ensure a continuous and self-sustaining source for funding Cardano improvements. The treasury is replenished every epoch from a portion of stake pool rewards, minted coins, and the percentage from fees. To enable fair decision making on how these funds should be used, Voltaire also introduces the decentralized software updates process. This allows ada holders to participate in decision making and take an active part in voting to influence system advancements.
This work is in progress and IOG has already started implementing social experiments and designing the engineering tools for these needs. Cardano improvement proposals (CIPs), for instance, are deployed within Voltaire as a social communication system that acts as an open-source library with resources describing formal, technically-oriented standards, code, and processes that provide guidelines for the Cardano community in a transparent and open-source way.
Another major step towards decentralized governance was the launch of Project Catalyst, which underpins the treasury system functionality, combining proposal and voting procedures. Project Catalyst maintains the source of funding for supporting initiatives and improvements proposed by ada holders, while simultaneously rewarding and incentivizing people who dedicate their time and effort to making productive decisions.
Voltaire is about extension and development of concepts, tools, and experiments, driving a fully decentralized ecosystem to democratize the Cardano network. With all the components in place, Cardano becomes a truly decentralized platform no longer under the founding entities.
With the final Voltaire deliverables, Cardano’s future will be in the hands of the community, who will have everything they need to grow and evolve Cardano from the secure, decentralized basis established by IOG.