Motivation

We have lost the ability to determine what is true.

Most information comes from centralized sources, which are heavily biased according to the will of their owners. It’s not possible for the average person to know when they’re consuming propaganda.

The internet grants the ability to connect, communicate, and organize ourselves in uncountably many ways, yet the vast majority of interactions rely on untrustworthy centralized services. Because these services have access to huge numbers of people, those eager to manipulate invest huge sums of money in these services to spread their messages.

For societies that should be controlled “by the people,” it’s an existential risk for everyone to be systematically misled.

It’s time to try a new approach.

For this experimental project, we will try to find the best way for individuals to take direct ownership of information.

Hypothesis

If individuals take direct ownership of information, we will regain the ability to determine what is true.

Experiment

We will build some tools to make it natural for people to send, receive, share, and discuss information without interference from centralized entities.

Since we’re competing with massively entrenched centralized services, we will use an asymmetrical strategy that leverages the advantages of decentralization.

Centralized systems currently provide the valuable service of aggregating, filtering, and interpreting the world’s information. Because of that, the tools we build must make it natural for individuals to serve this role instead.

Tools

We can build a simple decentralized node agent that will facilitate basic information sharing and consensus seeking with people we trust using systems we control directly.

Each participant:

  • installs agents on some machines they control
  • connects in person with some people they trust in real life
  • starts sharing and using consensus tools

Goals

Some goals which will direct the system’s design:

  • all data is protected from unauthorized access and secure from loss
  • node software runs on the same hardware and connections that most people already have
  • people only connect directly to those that they know and trust
  • individuals we know and trust help us filter information
  • private data is not shared with external parties

FAQ

  1. How can this work, given the huge user base of the centralized social networks and news services?

    Because it is designed to connect small groups of people, massive numbers of users aren’t required for a compelling user experience.

    The system is designed to be most beneficial when used by small groups. This means that, in contrast to for-profit centralized services, it’s not necessary for all of your aquaintances to be using it. Individuals can just find a small group of trusted friends to use the system in order to benefit from it.

  2. How will you prevent the system from becoming too complicated?

    We believe that in this case centralized systems are at a distinct disadvantage as far as systemic complexity. Centralized systems have to serve “two masters”: their users and their owner.

    Additionally, centralized systems have to scale to massive numbers of users in order to be profitable and effective. This is an additional distraction from simply serving the user, and contributes to complexity.

    Our system will be much simpler overall because it will only have to meet the needs of users.

  3. Infrastructure is difficult to maintain. How can you expect everyone to run their own server software?

    Good question! This is the main focus of the project right now - designing the software agents to not require any expertise from the end user.

  4. Is this like bitcoin or blockchain?

    On a technical level, they share little resemblance.

    But in spirit, they have much in common:

    • inspired by centralized corruption and manipulation
    • reimplementing old systems using decentralization and a better trust model
    • uncompromising data security
    • strong cryptographic fundamentals
    • designed to establish consensus

    While bitcoin is designed to create global consensus about asset ownership and transfer, this system is designed to create local consensus among small groups about everyday topics.

Menu