So, it finally happened... Google crashed. . It might have been only for about an hour, but all over the world, people and gadgets using Google services were hit with an unexplained outage. Many people even spent some time in the Dark Ages, since they couldn’t switch on their lights with Google Home. While the downtime was luckily not enough for something serious to happen, we need to understand that disruptions on centralized services can happen at any given time and anti-fragile systems are needed.
Schadenfreude aside, the builders of decentralized infrastructure need to reflect upon the way we approach the construction of the platforms, protect and onboard users, and above all - if what we’re building can scale to billions of devices and people across the interconnected globalized world.
Web3, or the decentralized web, are not new concepts. As a matter of fact, the once underground movement has been growing since before the publishing of the Bitcoin Whitepaper in 2008, Tor being created in 2002.
“Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. (...) The technology for this revolution--and it surely will be both a social and economic revolution--has existed in theory for the past decade. The methods are based upon public-key encryption, zero-knowledge interactive proof systems, and various software protocols for interaction, authentication, and verification.” - Timothy C. May, The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto, 1992
2010 and 2013 (the year of the Wikileaks scandal, and one of the Snowden revelations, respectively) saw the rise of the whistleblowers bring to light the abuses of citizen surveillance. In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg was brought to the stall by the many cases of data abuse Facebook was involved in, tied to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. I can go on for ages citing hacks, leaks, and other events. However, I believe that it is most relevant to note that in 2020 when our lives have passed almost fully to the digital realm, we are experiencing the paradigm shift whistleblowers have been long advocating for. We not only need to be in full control of our data and our digital identities and lives but also - our systems must be anti-fragile, monopolies and centralized providers need to allow space for alternative peer-to-peer systems.
In the case of an outage, such as what we saw yesterday, the centralization of the web poses a huge risk to users around the world. For example, back in September, employees at Universal Health Services (UHS), an owner of a nationwide network of hospitals, reported widespread outages that resulted in delayed lab results, fallback to pen and paper, and patients being diverted to other hospitals. The culprit Ryuk ransomware, was ultimately found responsible for this outage, which locked up hospital systems for days. Increasing cases of ransomware are just one way bad actors are able to capitalize on centralized data systems, in some cases causing days or weeks of disruption and further demonstrating the importance of the decentralized web.
Golem Network’s Role in Decentralization
We can’t expect Google, Amazon, or any centralized conglomerate to acknowledge Web 3 as alternatives; builders need to take advantage of the disruptions, failure, and abuses of the oligopolies and jump on the stage. We cannot and must not depend on monolithic platforms and databases that own our identity and our right to live our digital lives.
The web 3/ Dweb vision is a work in progress - both in building and adoption. From the building side, most networks either need to scale or are too complex for users to understand easily. UX is not great and on-ramping to crypto remains one core issue for adoption as well. But we don’t have much time to waste. The web3 stack needs to evolve faster than ever because tomorrow, the downtime might be longer and more damaging.
Golem will play a key role in the web3 stack. Applications that help us connect with others, improve our lives, help advance science and beyond cannot rely on a centralized cloud. They need to be unstoppable. And this is where we can help. Deplatforming is a real problem, censorship is rampant, and developers and application users need a safe haven from arbitrary shutdowns.
Moreover, the creation of alternative economies, fueled by cryptocurrencies and onboarding masses thanks to, stable coins must be protected. Your money does not belong to you if it is stored in a bank. This is especially true for most people. Governments and banks can shut down your accounts for any given reason. From one day to the next, as it happened to me, you can be pushed out of the system. I cannot stress enough the need to own your finances and be in full control of the keys to your savings.
The alternative financial system, combined with anti-fragile platforms like Golem, create a fairer and more democratized society. Access to censorship-resistant computing power, a reliable, private, and unstoppable internet, matters as much as peer-to-peer transaction frameworks and currencies, as it all forms part of a stack - the decentralized web, which is here to allow us to restore the vision of the original creators of the internet and lead us to a better tomorrow.