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Author Topic: Can Blockchain Save Us from the Internet's Original Sin?  (Read 70 times)
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October 28, 2017, 06:46:14 AM

The internet's original sin

How did the GAFA gang get to be so powerful? It comes down to an original sin in the first design of the internet.

The inventors of packet switching and of the basic protocols on which the modern web is built did a masterful job figuring how to move information seamlessly across a distributed network. What they didn't do was resolve the problem of trust.

Since information is power, it is often highly sensitive. So when people share it with each other, they need to know that data can be trusted. But since there was no truly decentralized trust mediation system in place in the 1990s – no permissionless way to solve the Byzantine Generals' Problem – an asymmetric solution was found.

On the one hand, the distribution of public information was disintermediated, which put all centralized providers of that information, especially newspapers and other media outlets, under intense business pressure from blogs and other new information competitors. But on the other, all valuable information – particularly money itself, an especially valuable form of information – was still intermediated by trusted third parties.

It was a centralized solution bolted onto a decentralized information infrastructure.

So, we got website hosting services to manage each site's files. We got certificate authorities to authenticate reliable addresses. We got banks and credit card providers to run the payment system. And since we craved the network that Facebook's community offered and that Amazon's marketplace could reach and Google's search engine could tap, we fed ever more valuable information into the hands of these entities – those that won the early, defining battles to establish dominance of those services.

A new internet version of the trusted third party was born, and it was just as powerful, if not more so, than those archetypal trusted third parties of the pre-internet era: banks.

Only these newcomers' currency isn't dollars, it's data.

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