The Future of the Internet Lies in Decentralization: Dr. Zamboglou by@zamboglou

The Future of the Internet Lies in Decentralization: Dr. Zamboglou

Centralization was the beginning but decentralization is the future. Decentralizing the internet will mean ending the reliance on large centralized organizations such as banking, software development and hardware development.
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Demetrios Zamboglou PhD HackerNoon profile picture

Demetrios Zamboglou PhD

Fintech specialist and thought-leader with extensive industry experience and academic background.

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In decentralization, we trust, and in our community, we believe!


This interview is part of the #Decentralized-Internet writing contest! For those who are reading about it for the first time, HackerNoon has built a partnership with Everscale (Formely Free Ton) - a decentralized, community-powered blockchain movement for free internet! This is the last month to participate in the contest. You can see all #Decentralized-Internet stories here.


So without further ado, let’s start the interview.

Thank you for joining us! Please tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Dema, a FinTech Doctor from Cyprus, and I currently live in Dubai. I work for CFI Financial Group – a financial broker offering trading and investment services in the Middle East.


Whereas most people differentiate between business and pleasure, for me, my business is my pleasure. I absolutely love what I do, and I’m glad for the opportunity to share my passion with the world.


Currently, I work in Fintech – the apex of finance and technology. It is a relatively new industry that encapsulates a diverse set of concepts and skillsets, but one that is on track to change the world.


I’m passionate about developing and implementing the tools that can guide society away from persistent scarcity and towards unlimited abundance - via technology.

Let's discuss centralized internet first. What is your opinion on the centralized internet? What are its pros/cons?

The Internet had to begin with a centralized model to be seen as usable and viable as a proof of concept.


Centralization was the beginning, but decentralization is the future.


The Internet was born centralized but is now strolling towards decentralization.

The Internet was born centralized but is now strolling towards decentralization.


I regard centralized systems as simpler and more user-friendly compared to decentralized since the concept relies on a single point of reconciliation.


Furthermore, centralized systems are time-saving because individual servers mean fewer admins and more straightforward management. Also, tracking and collecting data is more accessible given there are fewer interjection points.


The main disadvantage of centralized networks is in cases of even slight disruption.


In such cases, the entire system can fail because all nodes are bottlenecked in one server. Relying on a single server can be extremely problematic, especially in highly important critical tasks. Given that our various societies are becoming digitally interconnected at a rapid rate, it makes sense that increasingly more digital functions are being considered “critical”.


Given this trend, it makes sense for internet-ready functions to become decentralized as much as possible. Such as shift would also boost the rate at which various systems can be upscaled to meet regional and global demands.

What does decentralization mean to you?

First and foremost, decentralization opens the door to what is now being hailed as “Web 3.0” – a seamless user experience where users are not only browsing the internet in a read-only fashion (Web 1.0), or sharing their data as part of a dynamic architecture (Web 2.0), they will be able to truly own their content and maintain full control over its digital presence.


Odyssey is a good example of how the Web 3.0 concept is being applied in practice. It’s a blockchain alternative to YouTube, where video creators can earn library tokens as a reward system for watching videos. Odyssey cannot prevent anyone from posting videos, even offensive ones, because the hosted video is not held on one computer but rather is distributed among thousands of computers as part of a de facto peer-to-peer network.


Unlike centralized connectivity, computing power is used to process the distributed control. Decentralizing a network tends to improve the speed and flexibility of how various tasks are processed by distributing processing power to individual users.

How decentralization changes the internet?

Decentralizing the internet will mean ending the reliance on large centralized organizations that have monopolized not only the internet but other interconnected industries such as banking, software development, and hardware manufacturing.


On the other hand, the decentralized approach has created small but highly successful communities that serve as alternatives to the traditional status quo. These grassroots internet-based communities have coalesced organically and are investing their time and energy to provide users with a chance and the capacity to control their data - rather than relying on intermediaries.


Decentralization wrestles back control of the internet from the few to the many and then delivers it to the individual.

What is the best thing about decentralized internet?

The most exciting aspect is the inherent blend of stability and empowerment offered by the system architecture. Once the most critical aspects are decentralized, the likelihood of system failure falls to almost zero – even for notoriously fiddly systems such as payments, cloud access, reconciliations, and real-time system updates.


Decentralization essentially means both service providers and users can expect flawless uptime and zero data loss in case of system failure.


In the unlikely event of a system failure affecting multiple nodes simultaneously, redundancy measures will ensure downtime is minimized while server recovery could be better automated to avoid the need for human involvement. In other words, a critical system failure that would currently affect an entire organization globally will only affect a handful of terminals at one representative office.


Also important is that a decentralized internet helps usher in the development of the next generation of platforms, offering unique tools, services, and products such as “decentralized finance” (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).


NFTs may seem like a gimmick for the time being, but that’s what they said about Bitcoin in 2008. Eventually, growing demand is likely to push up prices because the supply of NFTs is often limited.


To demonstrate what I mean, meet my newly-acquired “Desperate Ape Wife #1274” – she may be a mindless digital avatar with some severely challenging aesthetic issues, but I’m still confident she can show me some appreciation over time.


Meet my Desperate ApeWife, currently with a floor value of US$ 3,172.

Meet my Desperate ApeWife, currently with a floor value of US$ 3,172.

Are you currently directly or indirectly working on the decentralized internet use case? We would love to know more about it.

Already, decentralization-focused developers are working on what’s known as “open development” platforms which allow individuals to personally build new tools, products, and services that they can then offer to other people or even sell for a profit in a transparent marketplace.


What all this means is that decentralized systems can offer significant opportunities for start-up businesses seeking to grow their audience on the internet – and fast. Good examples would include behemoths like Amazon, a company that grew its capacity and obtained millions of new clients as a result of decentralized systems.


Another example is Graphite Docs – a far more intuitive and workable application that can also secure all data, including encryption. The software enables users to access their information at multiple points and allows for greater user switching – a boon for large organizations.


It is rather saddening to admit that the governments of the world are becoming increasingly authoritarian when it comes to controlling social media and the internet in general. Decentralized networks offer a means for the people to push back by creating a level playing field that even governments cannot skew.

What are the biggest challenges in the way of the decentralized web?

One particular challenge is that decentralized systems face the problem of coordination given that every node is isolated, and therefore, it can be problematic to achieve collective tasks, especially at greater distances. Decentralization offers unbounded freedom of operation and limitless scalability, which is great when it comes to freedom of expression. However, there is also the possibility of “excess freedom” leading to adverse effects, given that the fruits of decentralization will also empower malicious users.


Decentralized systems can be a panacea to many different problems for many different users, but by the same token (no pun intended), greater empowerment creates greater room for people to bend or break the rules and regulations set by authorities.


A decentralized internet can guide society away from persistent scarcity and towards unlimited abundance.

A decentralized internet can guide society away from persistent scarcity and towards unlimited abundance.


Therefore, any notions of a decentralized internet will depend on a domain name system, thereby allowing participants to obtain individual IP addresses and hosts. Subversive attacks on independent nodes can pose significant problems – and there will always be the possibility of service outages – but the underlying risk of failure is severely reduced while the capacity for next-gen applications is expanded.


Another issue is an oversight.


In a centralized system, it is possible to filter and eradicate unwanted messages such as offensive social media posts – something that could be difficult in a decentralized network. Users in a decentralized system will have inherent anonymity and could potentially misuse this boon to conduct malicious activity.


Sadly, the proliferation of a decentralized internet will create more opportunities for misuse by bad-faith actors, but the ethical and practical justification is that any abuse will be better tracked and reconciled, thereby leading to a stronger deterrent over time.

Do you have any apprehension or fear related to the decentralization of the internet?

Although transitioning from centralization to decentralization bears risks, I think they are well worth taking, considering the opportunities created for everyone.


However, I am apprehensive of the cost involved with installing and operating decentralized systems worldwide. There is also a suitability consideration for small users. Lacking a superior node to regulate the system could also pose problems when it comes to troubleshooting and ad-hoc repairs. Decentralized networks require more computing knowledge and understanding, which many users may not be capable of acquiring at a local scale.


Excess freedom could also create difficult moral dilemmas and will raise the question of who bears responsibility for malicious acts. If a criminal uses a decentralized network to convince financially illiterate people to give away their money or promises outlandish riches that are too good to believe – yet people still believe in them and invest anyway: should the service provider bear responsibility or the end-user?


To many, decentralization of the internet is a radical approach that poses as many risks as it does benefits, and neither has been investigated to any great depth. What developers have created so far isn’t being communicated to the public at large or regulators, which eventually leads to knee-jerk reactions and a perception that fintech developers’ ambitions are outpacing the market’s ability to regulate them.


It’s a move I completely support.

How do you see the future of the decentralized internet?

I’m confident that the future of the Internet lies in decentralization. There is a growing demand for dependable privacy, digital data-keeping, and cybersecurity at the individual level – not just corporates.


Millions, if not billions of people, are suspicious of Big Data, Big Tech, and Big Government. They don’t want to delegate their data – whether it be top-secret algorithms or family photos – to centralized gatekeepers such as Google and Amazon.


The tech giants of today will ultimately lose their grip on the monopoly they’ve created, especially as cybercrime continues to affect larger corporations to a great degree than their smaller siblings. To me, it seems many people prefer to trust fintech companies such as Revolut with their money rather than the traditional big banks. The same applies in the tech sector. People are trusting big tech companies less and less as they see a growing litany of privacy encroachment cases stuffing the courts.


On a mass scale, people want more control over their own lives and greater protection of their inherent sovereignty and personal autonomy. Decentralization is a genuine vehicle that delivers power back into the hands of the people and re-empowers individuals to better handle their assets.

Thank you for your time! Any closing thoughts/advice for the readers?

The debate between centralized and decentralized will not end anytime soon. However, despite the naysayers and the skeptics, the Internet is switching to a more decentralized alternative.


Primarily, this is because of the trust issues that have emerged as a result of rampant ‘oligopolization’ in all industry sectors. The overarching question is whether people should have the right to govern themselves and obtain full control over their digital footprint – I, for one, side with personal responsibility in the hands of the individual, rather than collective protections enforced by governments.


Given that the needs and wants of every individual can be very different, it’s better to allow everyone to weigh up their own requirements and decide which system works best for them. But will governments allow their citizens to refuse government oversight over their digital activities? This seems like a sticking point and remains the core point of contention among most market participants.


Anonymous.

Anonymous.

The switch to a decentralized system takes away some of the collective safety net provided by authorities and puts the onus on individual users when it comes to responsibility, culpability, and ethical conduct.

A decentralized internet creates greater opportunity for misuse, but it also delivers the solutions to deterring, tracking, and convicting malicious actors. If we truly shift the onus of responsibility to the individual, there will be less room for malicious actors to operate (while helping to create a culture of mindfulness). Ultimately, all stakeholders must agree to and then commit to a mechanism that ensures suitable user protections against harmful online activities. However, no solution is perfect, and some degree of malicious activity will, sadly, always take place.

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by Demetrios Zamboglou PhD @zamboglou.Fintech specialist and thought-leader with extensive industry experience and academic background.
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