Each year, each month, each week, the popularity of decentralized applications and software programs continues to increase. In the future many hope that a shift to censorship-resistant and decentralized internet will counteract large tech companies, whose censorship and surveillance serves to suffocate competition and destroy privacy.
A pioneering force of decentralization was the creation of Bitcoin in 2009. Satoshi Nakamoto created the first ever “Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”with the aim of taking the control of money out of the hands of banks and governments. This cryptocurrency and its blockchain (a digital decentralized public ledger) give financial power back to the individual.
What Bitcoin has done for money is what a decentralized internet can do for online privacy and the safety of information.
The Internet as we know it today is used worldwide. It is our go-to point for accessing information or entertainment and communicating with people from all around the globe. However, most internet users experience censorship in one form or another. In countries such as Norway and Sweden, users have a lot of freedom online. However, countries such as China and Pakistan censor extensively. This includes censoring pornography and political news. China has even gone as far as to ban entire websites such as YouTube and Facebook. Numerous attempts made by social media giants to enter China have been unsuccessful.
While some form of censorship is necessary and ethical, such as the censorship of child pornography, other types of censorship hinder users’ right to freedom of expression. This is seen in countries even where social media sites are flourishing. Posts, pages or even entire accounts that are opinion-based or politically charged are removed by website administrators, owners, and even individual users. Even posts that critique companies and their founders are prohibited and highly penalized.
No Online Privacy
While your internet experience is being censored, your personal data is also being exploited. Every word you type into Google Docs is sent back to Google’s servers. Your document, sitting in their centralized servers, is exposed to serious threats. If the entire server shuts down due to a technical error, you cannot access your document. The whole network goes offline. Your information could also be in the hands of hackers if Google’s online security fails. The most chilling thing of all is that technically Google can do whatever it wants with your information.
Facebook is much the same controlling at least two billion accounts. Facebook knows every user’s full name, date of birth, location, photos, work details, friends, and many other intimate details. The social media giant holds this data on their private centralized servers and often sell it on to marketing companies. Furthermore, such centralized stores of information are often breached by hackers, who either sell the information or use it to commit crimes.
The most popular solution to both censorship and privacy issues is to take the Internet out of the hands of centralized companies. Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web with the idea of decentralization in mind. In the 1990s, web pages were personal and unique, giving the viewer a distinctive experience. Now we are all too familiar with Facebook and Google logos, and seemingly “quirky” website templates. Luckily developers have the right platforms, resources, and funding to create an Internet that likens back to the 90’s net, at least in terms of real diversity.
Much like Bitcoin, a decentralized Internet has no central governing body. Nobody reserves the right to dictate the main operations of this internet. The building blocks to this system are decentralized applications, known as “DApps”.
Decentralized applications run on a decentralized network, such as the Ethereum or EOS blockchain. These applications are controlled by a community of users who are rewarded with tokens for providing their computing power. Your data, that you supply to use these applications, gets stored in an encrypted form on a network of computers which are unable to read your data. The keys to unscramble the encryption reside only on personal devices. You alone control your information.
DApps return ownership of personal data to individuals while allowing start-ups to compete against the tech giants. Tim Berners-Lee’s vision could be rescued by these applications.
Right now, however, decentralized applications rely on their resistance to censorship as a standpoint for growth. For these applications to become universal, they need to attract both developers and users who believe in the system.
Examples of Decentralized Applications
However, there has been growth in this space with over 2000 DApps available to users. Your first stop when trying to find any DApp is State of The DApps. This site acts the same as a conventional App Store. Sleek and easy to use the site provides users with all they need to know about their favorite Dapps including how to run them on their devices.
A DApp solving the real-world issue of expensive and centralized electricity is Power Ledger. The DApp allows people to sell their extra electricity through a peer-to-peer marketplace. Buyers pay a fair and transparent price. Power Ledger could give the buying power back to the customer and take it away from large energy companies.
Venture firms who back Google and Facebook, Sequoia and Andreessen Horowitz, have invested in a decentralized data-storage network called Filecoin. This programme is set to compete with conventional cloud storage. The company so far has used an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) to raise funds and motivate participation in the programme.
Virtual reality is an impressive advancement within the gaming world. However, two emerging technologies that can fundamentally transform the way we live our lives today are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics. Kambria is a decentralized protocol that has created a platform for decentralization and peer-to-peer collaboration to speed up the adoption and development of these two exciting technologies. This company is poised to expand rapidly with its impressive ties to its well-established robotics company, OhmniLabs, in addition to top universities and large international corporations.
Another application that uses the power of decentralization to ensure accuracy and transparency is DNN, a collaborative news application. Using the Ethereum blockchain, this DApp offers current news that is censorship-resistant. The content created on DNN is diversified as its variety of users, writers, reviewers, and publishers has only increased.
If you are looking to shop the world all from the comfort of your living room using cryptocurrency then OpenBazaar is the online marketplace for you. This DApp is the decentralized version of eBay where you can buy and sell anything your heart desires. As it is a peer-to-peer network there are no added fees and no restrictions. The application supports payment with over 50 Cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, and Dash.
Another technology that is growing just as fast as decentralization is virtual reality gaming. Decentraland is a DApp that combines these two impressive technologies. Yet again running on the Ethereum blockchain this application immerses the user into a 3D interactive world created by its community. You can purchase your own land using Ethereum any virtual reality experience from live music to test driving a car.
The decentralized internet and its DApps are still in their infancy. A lot of research and testing still needs to be done. Centralized services still dominate today and will continue to dominate unless people wake up to the dangers that this system poses.
If Facebook and Google used decentralized servers, it wouldn’t matter if one server out of the entire network shut down. The rest of the network would still be operational. Also, your private information would be encrypted. Decentralized applications make the internet more secure and reliable. They are flexible and transparent and offer a safer internet experience.
The Kambria Team
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