By now we have all heard of Bitcoin, the crypto currency has become a truly amazing breakthrough for trade. Initially Internet based, Bitcoin has quickly become a de-facto base of exchange in developing countries. This breakthrough has the potential to transform the world in ways we can’t yet imagine, with far reaching benefits. It’s a trade mechanism that I described recently as Currency Sans Frontières !
MaidSafe has some very similar aspirations, but based on data and communications. The Maidsafe papers from 2006 describe a crypto currency and voting system, built on an autonomous network. The concept is barely discernible from Bitcoin, solving the Byzantine Generals Problem, just as Bitcoin developers (and Satoshi) had to.
However, MaidSafe utilises a very different method for joining the network. Our approach enables users to trade in their computing resources. This means that to join Maidsafe you supply some disk space and bandwidth, it’s very simple, fair and efficient. To join Bitcoin you either mine coins (which is a proof of work mechanism), or trade something for coins (cash, services or goods). This process works well for Bitcoin.
As Bitcoin is essentially deflationary there is a limit to the number of coins mined, currently around 7200 Bitcoins per day. Within the Maidsafe Network, the goal is maximum scalability, so a non-finite mechanism is required. It seems Bitcoin and Maidsafe made very good design decisions early on.
The two projects have decentralisation as a goal and Maidsafe has gone a long way to creating such a system. For instance, Maidsafe runs on a distributed hash table and uses a network protocol to join together computers through routers, hubs and other network equipment. This would suit Bitcoin machines well as they currently rely on uPnp and port mapping to connect to the network.
As MaidSafe is ‘quid pro quo’ based, as opposed to ‘pay and you are in’, there is an incentive to continue to run a MaidSafe node. This helps Bitcoin as the incentive to stay part of the Bitcoin network decreases over time. It should be noted that the Bitcoin developers are not standing still and are looking at many options here, so this is not a weakness per se, it’s merely a current status.
The coming together of these 2 technologies would be, without doubt, advantageous. Perhaps one of the largest benefits Bitcoin would get from MaidSafe is the secure and private storage and transmission of data and communications. MaidSafe would also gain significantly, with secure and private storage and transmission of trading capability.
I feel there is a huge opportunity for real change now and this could be a paradigm changing combination. Together these technologies can provide the world’s population with:
1: Security of their own data
2: Ability to communicate without snooping
3: Ability to trade freely and globally
4: Ability to share any data with whom they wish
5: Ability to publish a website or any data without loss of privacy
Importantly, all of these benefits are under the control of the individual, nobody or no thing can stop, snoop or otherwise restrict access, there is no third party involved at all! MaidSafe does not know its users and never can, just as Bitcoin is/”should be”.
These technologies brought together would allow some amazing opportunities that we cannot yet envisage. For instance, an auction/shop system, where people can advertise and receive payment for products and services privately, with only the buyer and seller involved. Then Bitcoin can be earned, spent and used as intended. Furthermore, there are arbitration systems around now, even escrow systems that can be adopted to a private, secure and anonymous system with ease.
Whatever the outcome, these are exiting times for all of us!