Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker got it right. Bran Cohen got it right. BitCoin got it right. The future is peer-to-peer.
I asked my friend, a full-time telecom analyst, “What do people do with 5G?” His response?
“They run a lot of speed tests.”
The truth is, the applications that are going to push 5G to the absolute brink aren’t even within our comprehension yet. The idea of symmetric bandwidth enable end-user innovation to a level we’ve never even considered yet. I know, I know, blah blah blah buzzwords, innovation digital transformation, same shit, different network… But walk with me. And read some Rudy Rucker.
I have a device in my pocket. It can hold 1 TB, and it’s a phone, It’s, like, 2026, or something. In my backpack are 25 drones and a huge net of bendable, bio-tech-based solar cells. These drones can stay in the air and extend this netting of solar cells, powering itself, and my phone via… I dunno, a cable, or if you’re a futurist, wireless power transfer.
This network of drones is also an antenna which connects to Starlink. Maybe the drone swarm has a thin cable back down to Earth that tethers it to a windmill. Whatever the physical form, that 1TB of storage is in my pocket at all times, sometimes it’s in the woods, sometimes it’s in Antarctica where the coolest new night club is open as land is revealed….
Point is, I am now a roving data store, resilient against power outage, data leakage, and physical security. I mean, I know a lot of nerds whose personal phone is better protected than Fort Knox, simply because they are so punchy and trigger-happy.
So, lots of weirdo file system ideas that could never work, ever, because “constraints,” or “hardware” or “networking.” Whatever the reason. Tahoe. IPFS. BitTorrent! Guess what. Those things are working now. And not only are they working, but in the future, they are going to start forming the absolute basis of everyday work. They are going to spawn the future network. The next Internet.
That 1 TB in my pocket can give away 10GB for your data, and your data, and your data, all encrypted and, frankly, only really asked for if the entire ecosystem of your saved data has been incinerated. I can also give away another 10 GB for hot storage: the latest NetFlix Season of Stranger Things can buffer some episodes from my phone so my neighbors can watch without waiting.
In 5G, I am the CDN.
And so are you!
This also means storage becomes less expensive, overall. Presumably, there will be a business in hosting pure peer-to-peer storage banks for the overall public good, but I don’t know how those would work, revenue-wise. Ideally, governments would run enormous data stores to save their citizens’ culture.
The cryptologists will find ways to keep files secret while keeping them obviously redundant. These peer-to-peer file systems will find ways to enable pirates to just check a box on a movie, like Popcorn Time. And in this same wild network of unabashed, freewheeling copyright malingering, large enterprises will eventually feel comfortable storing their incredibly sensitive data in these networks.
Why? Because it will all be encrypted in an anonymous, trusted fashion. Difficult computationally. But once it’s figured out, it’ll be like Minecraft. No one will run their own NAS beyond running some local storage bin that gets credit for its peer-to-peer work. Like Ethereum with compute time, long-term stable, online storage will be rewarded within these peer-to-peer networks.
Of course, this is all contingent upon there still being forests, usable sunlight, and non-flooded or burning land…. Let’s get it together humanity!
The real thing we’re waiting for is the one, true blockchain-based, storage-centric… filesystem? Coin? Peer-to-peer protocol? Probably, this will look like all three. Some sort of peer-to-peer operating system, if you will.
Obviously, adoption will be a huge undertaking here. I should probably envision my solar-web thing in 2030 or 2040. But the real vision here is something nearing an idealistic, harmonious future that looks something like what follows:
A person in an absolute wilderness using all the crazy survival tools we now love: water filters, light-weight hammocks, tiny stoves, a fleet of drones capturing enough power to sustain life and a miniature datacenter. Drones deliver food from Amazon once a week, and otherwise, this person has an online job, using a laptop, and supports their infrastructure expenses by being a long-term, dependable node for this peer-to-peer OS.
The drones land at night, passing extra juice to some batteries. The person commits their daily code to work, their personal photos, journals, and the music they make are all uploading into the peer-to-peer cloud. The world that isn’t dependent on Amazon.
The world that is only dependent upon the open ecosystem, the open community. The equitable, comoditized community, where compute power is always the right price, at the right edge, at the right time, even if that right edge is someone’s iPhone, not a Microsoft datacenter.
Instead of paying some datacenter to host your stuff, an entity like… uhm… CERN will just run a giant PaaS, or something like Kubernetes. Or maybe a Kubernetes management system. This entity… Orchestration system… provisioning system (Luke Kanies in from the half-court line at the buzzer!) whatever you call it, it’ll be a big expensive piece of software enterprises run that actually distributes their workloads across Ethereum clouds, across international datacenters, and across that drone cloud run by that person living in a hammock in a forest.
How does that thing come to be? I am told agressive optimizations around crypto inside the hardware would be a good start. Also….
Bram? You got this?