Hackernoon logo16 Premises for the Decentralized Web by@kameir

16 Premises for the Decentralized Web

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Christian Kameir Hacker Noon profile picture

Christian Kameir

Blockchain VC @ Sustany Capital

In 1985 .com was added to the domain name system of the internet. Its moniker is derived from the word commercial, indicating its intended purpose for domains registered by commercial organizations. Later, all top-level domain - with the exception of .edu and .gov - were opened for general purpose use, leading to the commercial web users are exposed to today.

The following outlines premises required for a sustainable information exchange system in service of returning the internet and is most visible layer - the World Wide Web - from the tragedy of the commons to a utility for the exchange of knowledge, and value. Please note, that with the introduction of digital bearer instruments (colloquially referred to as 'coins', 'tokens', or 'cryptocurrency') all premises extend to information as well as the transfer of rights and assets.

Premise One: The internet, and World Wide Web must be protected as an intellectual commons – a shared resources in which all stakeholders have equal interests and should therefore receive equal control. Intellectual commons constitute noncommercial spheres of intellectual production, distribution, and consumption, which are reproduced outside the circulation of intangible commodities and money. They provide the core common infrastructures of intellectual production, such as language, non-aggregated data and information, prior knowledge, and culture (see The Ontology of the Intellectual Commons). No single person, entity, group, or culture can claim exclusive rights to information. Just as physical access to water needs to be available to any human being, the information on how to get to this resource is inseparably attached to it.

With the initial implementation of the unfiltered World Wide Web, people began to constitute intellectual commons free to access by all, by devising collaborative peer-to-peer modes of production and management of intellectual resources

The opposite of collective rights is not private rights purchased from the collective, but common rights that precede the collective.

It is important to note that censorship of human behavior frequently starts with wholesale surveillance; extending from those in the physical world (i.e. surveillance cameras, and facial recognition) to the digital footprints of an individual. As such, 'rights to be forgotten' as put forth by several 'privacy laws' - such as the GDPR - are either testament to technological naïveté or a testament to an unwillingness of authorities to recognize that the act of surveillance itself alters human behavior and hence violates the fundamental human right of self-determination as stated by the United Nations, and the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Humans have the unalienable right not to be observed in their actions regardless if expressed in physical or digital spaces.

Premise Two: Access to unfiltered and uncensored information via the web protects and promotes essential human interests, especially the unique human capacity for freedom (see the work of Andrew Fagan). Access to information has to be free. Censorship, as well as monopolized information organization – as de-facto, practiced by Alphabet’s Google and others – is hence a human rights violation. ‘Right’ being synonymous of ‘legal’ and antonyms of both wrong and illegal, every right of any human person is ipso facto a legal right which deserves protection of law and legal remedy irrespective of having been written into the law, constitution or otherwise in any country. This concept is generally referred to as “Ipso Facto Legal Rights Theory”. In a globally-connected world this is the only viable approach to to the human-coordination problem, superseding localized attempts to curtail self-directed human agency, including - and in particular - those of nation-states, and entities within these usurping its powers.

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

John Perry Barlow - A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

Premise Three: As Plato explains in Theaetetus, Knowledge and access to information are the natural enemies of belief. Beliefs are the enemy of progress. In my own words: belief is simply the absence of knowledge. An effective information management system will be able to  identify and discard information that violate basic principles of objectifiable reality or otherwise claim non-verifiable/falsifiable arguments and thus unscientific theory is not intrinsically false or inappropriate, however, as metaphysical theories might be true or contain truth, and are required to help inform science or structure scientific theories. Simply, to be scientific, a theory must predict at least some observation potentially refutable by observation.

Premise Four: Evolutionary organization of information cannot be democratic and must follow logic and peer review not popularism. As
Isaac Newton expressed: “We are all standing on the shoulders of giants”. No progress can be made without reading and understanding the research and works created by notable thinkers of the past.

A thousand flies can be wrong; or: Social proof is anything but.

Google’s philosophy that assumes that democracy on the web works is observably false.  A functional information management system employs Hebbian theory (more here).  Just as biological neuroscience explains the adaptation of neurons in the brain during the learning process the same model can be utilized to describe a basic mechanism for “synaptic” plasticity in connected systems wherein an increase in synaptic efficacy arises from the presynaptic cell’s/nodes (connected ‘brains’) repeated and persistent stimulation of the postsynaptic unit.

Premise Five: Centralized commercial interests corrupt and sway development. Consequently, the potential of connected systems and
connected knowledge has been underutilized and de facto halted altruistic
progress as the majority of internet users have accepted a marketing driven presentation layer – essentially commercial censorship – as ‘status quo’ (Google is not a search engine – it is a filter). Misalignment of interests
(shareholder, operator user) – a legacy of the industrial revolution (codified
in for-profit corporations) – have created an environment of broken promises which must be fixed by smart contracts that realign platform users, reduce friction, and make middlemen and consultants (lawyers, accountants) obsolete. To re-align platform (earth) and participating network endpoints (humans) we must create decentralized and autonomous organizations (DAO) which eliminate psychopathic
structures such as current corporations where externalities outweigh the
creation of value (not: profit).

Premise Six: DNA before intent and projection. What is needed is an objectified classification of the human element (which I label as “DNA”) within the network. Intent (i.e. Google (“search”)) and projection (i.e.
Facebook) are non-directional approaches. A directional approach requires to locate the user on more than just the location level but also include the level of education and knowledge etc.

Premise Seven: Capturing the cognitive surplus. Cognitive surplus as used here extends over the element of crowdsourcing by utilizing any type of engagement with any type of medium that can be contextually measured,
hence assigning a qualitative element. What is needed is the utilization of the latent potential inherent in the utilization of information itself. Exemplary: access of specific information from a specific individual contains a qualitative measure more relevant than any Hyperlink, i.e. a research scientist spending time on a website containing information relevant to his field of expertise as well as his/her engagement with other (digital) information related contextually as well as chronologically.

Premise Eight: Discarded information carries value. There is a strong tendency of researchers, editors, and pharmaceutical companies to
report and publish experimental results that are positive (i.e., showing a
significant finding) but very few results that are negative (i.e., supporting
the null hypothesis) or inconclusive (Publication Bias). Effective information
management will include negative results.

Premise Nine: Promote the viral distribution of successful concepts while building ‘herd immunity’ against the adaption of destructive or dysfunctional paradigms. Herd immunity describes a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. Herd immunity theory proposes that, in contagious diseases that are transmitted from individual to individual, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted when large numbers of a population are immune or less susceptible to the disease. The greater the proportion of individuals who are resistant, the smaller the probability that a susceptible individual will come into contact with an infectious individual. The concept transcends to information and its consumption by individuals.

Premise Ten: Subjugate linguistic barriers. Humans are regarded as the primates for their social qualities. But beyond any other creature, humans are adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization, and as such have created complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing
groups from families to nations. Social interactions between humans have
established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals,
which together form the basis of human society but at the same time, the
diversity leads to misunderstanding and fear (of the unknown). An effective
information management system will have to first overcome linguistic barriers before transcending into the transfer of knowledge. This extends over the simple translation from one language to another, to the specific jargon of a discipline, and finally the comprehension level of the individual. Any approach starting at the semantic level will come short of this goal.

Premise Eleven: Create an effective marketplace for information exchange. Information is the ultimate ‘derivative’ of an asset. However, only a small fraction of information is available through organized marketplaces, most of which shift the compensation to aggregation and distribution of the asset. An effective marketplace for information exchange will focus on the compensation of information creation and curation of information, hence putting the focus on the quality of information rather than its use for a derivative purpose (i.e., advertising).

Premise Twelve: Create an energy-optimized information system that does not require new infrastructure investments. Each connected system must not only capture and disseminate its own data but also serve as a relay for other systems (or: nodes), that is, it must collaborate to propagate
the data in the network (definition of a mesh network). Current ‘search engines’ are highly inefficient and add to the pollution of our environment. Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research. Though Google says it is at the forefront of green computing, its search engine generates high levels of CO2 because of the way it operates. When you type in a Google search for, say, “energy saving tips”, your request does not go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other. And it may even be sent to servers thousands of miles apart. Matching your query with the best-converting advertising consumes most of the energy (enough to power a light-bulb for fifty-five Minutes).

Premise Thirteen: Create an open-source money system (currency) independent from nation-state governments. While Bitcoin created a
breakthrough example, further steps towards true ‘money-over IP’ are still
missing. - A viable approach will likely incorporate the language of value of the user (which is the de facto remaining function of fiat currencies), while creating a digital bearer instrument (DBI), compatible with legacy systems, and emerging DBIs for credentials, including those issued by nation states.

Premise Fourteen: Establish persistent online entities (separate from Self Sovereign Identity) which support the public commons and the values of civil society. In 1962, Douglas Engelbart first proposed the idea of a networked personal computer, a machine that would, as he described it, “augment human intellect.” He understood that digital technology could enhance the ability of the mind to shape and develop concepts, as well as invite new forms of collaboration. The device that he and his colleagues at the Stanford Research Institute designed, dubbed the oNLine System (NLS), deliberately expanded on the innate human tendency toward creativity, and aimed to support creativity with the appropriate set of digital tools. The computers we all use today are the fruits of their effort. We must go back to these roots.

Premise Fifteen: Replace for-profit corporations as much as possible with for-purpose organizations in form of decentralized autonomous organizations that align the interests of all network participants.

Premise Sixteen: Create a qualified Smart Mob collaboration tool (within the peer-to-peer layer) for impromptu responses to crisis situations and to actively drive topic progress. A smart mob is a group that, contrary to the usual connotations of a mob, behaves intelligently or efficiently because of its exponentially increasing network links. This network enables people to connect to information and others, allowing a form of social coordination, a concept which was first introduced by Howard Rheingold in his book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. The qualification of smart mob members would be established by past contributions, including the digital footprint (i.e. engagement with digital content), while giving credentials (i.e. university degrees) no or little weight.

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Join this effort on Gitcoin. -- Also read this short outline on Web 3.0 topology.

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