I often think about what the next versions of the internet would look like (e.g. Maidsafe and it's counterparts), and it occurred to me that even if such a system existed, it would still be within the confines of the existing internet which is highly controlled. It also occurred to me that it wouldn't solve any of the problems around centralization and surveillance when it comes to other critical services like cell phones and TV.
In turn, that started bubbling up lots of exciting ideas about how it might be possible to develop a single data sharing platform which could create a whole new distributed and private network in place of existing Internet, TV and Cell phone infrastructure.
How would you go about creating the physical infrastructure needed for such a massive network? I think a few key technologies may be able to do just that.
According to [https://finance.yahoo.com/news/number-smartphones-around-world-top-122000896.html] there are currently around 1 billion smartphones in use, with predictions of that doubling by the end of this year. Now couple that with the emergence of smart devices and the internet of things and we have potentially tens or hundreds of billions of devices, including TVs, phones, tablets, cars, computers, toasters, coffee makers, fridges, printers, watches and more - all capable of sending and receiving data wirelessly.
If you could make these devices talk to each other, there's potential to create the biggest mesh network the world has ever seen.
ADDING BITCOIN AS AN INCENTIVE MODEL
Outside of maybe the technically proficient, most people probably wouldn't bother joining in and creating this new network, which obviously would be a problem. You'd have to provide a compelling reason for them to get involved other than doing it out of the goodness of their heart. We know one thing that compels people to action - money.
With bitcoin micropayments, you have the potential to turn each of these wireless enabled devices into incentivized nodes in the network. Users could pay tiny fractions of bitcoins in real time to these devices in return for successful delivery of packets. Inversely, each device you own could have its own bitcoin wallet and could potentially earn money for you - just by having it switched on and passing along other peoples data.
You would effectively become your own internet, tv and cell network provider.
This would birth a new market were those sharing their device bandwidth would compete on price with those around them. If you lived in a highly populated area, and you also shared your bandwidth, you could potentially have free access.
We already see the lengths people currently go to to mine bitcoin, spending millions on giant mines and developing new computer chips, all in pursuit of those sweet bits. Now imagine that if earning bitcoin was as easy as installing apps on your devices and leaving them running. That tiny bit of effort seems worth it for the potential rewards.
This could answer the question of how you would connect landmasses and remote areas with this type of giant mesh. The first people that connected remote areas would stand to make a lot of money, so, like with bitcoin, some may invest alot of money, say in sea-based broadcast beacons or satellites. And since it uses the same wireless technology, there's also the potential to piggyback off the existing internet infrastructure if need be.
POTENTIAL ADVANTAGES INCLUDE:
- Censorship and surveillance resistance (see Tor and Maidsafe)
- Near 24/7 uptime. Imagine even during a powercut or disaster, if everyone was connected by their battery powered devices (phones, tablets, cars), there would at least be some connectivity instead of none.
- Universal worldwide access with a single currency
- Save money by ditching your ISP, cable provider and cell network.
- Earn money using the existing technology you own
- No central organizations controlling the price for access
- You can pay only when you use
THE CRUCIAL POINT
There are many unanswered technical questions for such a system, but I think the main overarching point is that this absolutely would need to be a free and open source protocol, as opposed to something owned and branded by a corporation. This would allow users and other businesses to build their own products and services on top of the protocol, combining the brain power of all of humanity, and adding value in ways which single companies couldn't fathom.
That would give it a better chance of being adopted by enough people to gain critical mass.