Nick, what was the genesis of this idea for MaidSafe? What got you started on this path many years ago? It seems you are almost a decade ahead of everyone else when it comes to this problem. At least you knew there was a problem with “The Internet”. How?
The idea for MaidSafe came from our founder David Irvine. (Watch this video. It starts at 13:00, and is Part 1 of 2 where max Keiser interviews both David Irvine and Nick Lambert.) In an earlier business, having realized that small business servers were hard to use and expensive, David invented a product called eBoxit. eBoxit was a secure small business server that enabled SMEs to quickly and easily configure a complete networking environment within their office.
The process of creating this product led David to not only improving the way that servers worked, it also ultimately led him to the conclusion that many of the problems within network infrastructure were caused by the servers themselves. This led him to start to think about removing servers from the management of data, and the formation of MaidSafe in February of 2006. David spent most of the rest of that year developing a new, server-less network design. As is well documented within our marketing material, much of the inspiration and modeling of how to overcome the traditional approach came from complex natural systems, specifically ant colonies.
You have made a digital currency coin called SafeCoin, and it had a pretty good launch back in August. It incorporated Bitcoin and Mastercoin. Tell us how that launch was done successfully?
We launched an intermediate coin called MaidSafeCoin back in April of this year during a “crowd sale”. MaidSafeCoin will be exchanged on a 1:1 basis with Safecoin when the network launches. Participants in the “crowd sale” backed the project in either Bitcoin or Mastercoin, and we used the small property feature of the master protocol to issue MaidSafeCoins. All participation was recorded on “The BlockChain”.
The launch was not without its problems, but was ultimately successful, and I think this may be because the project caught the imagination of technology enthusiasts. It addresses many of the most important issues facing users today, that includes providing privacy, security and freedom online. We were able to get our message across in a way that resonated with users who I think respect that MaidSafe is working toward a strong long-term vision. This vision has led to a number of community supporters growing around the project. A community that is helping because they realize the world needs a network that is owned by no one, and prioritizes users rights, putting them back in control of their data.
Safecoin will be required to use services (such as storage space, VOIP calls, social networks where the user controls their own data…etc…) on the network. Therefore the value of Safecoin to all users will be the utility it provides when the network is launched.
So to be clear, what your company proposes is an all-new version of “The Internet”, an “Internet 2.0 – Encrypted Edition”, if you will. You are saying your system can provide that to the market in the future? When can this be completed? What time frame are we talking about here? What is your timeline going forward?
What MaidSafe will be doing with the SAFE (Secure Access For Everyone) Project is designed to effectively reimplement all web services. The SAFE network uses the existing Internet infrastructure (cables and routers), but removes servers and data centers on a new decentralized network. This is comprised of the spare computing resources of all its users. This is a network for the people, by the people. This new network will facilitate all the services that exist on the current Internet and facilitate products like decentralized storage products (like Dropbox). Also decentralized exchanges where peers can trade currencies directly with each other. VOIP (Skype) that enable encrypted voice, video, email, and text messaging services.
The time frame of beta launch is difficult to predict. You have to try and estimate how long it will take to fix the problems you don’t know you have yet. We are working toward an estimated public launch at the end of 2014. However, as I say timings are very difficult to predict and could change.
Regarding the development progress, we are working through a series of three test networks prior to the beta launch. We are currently transitioning from Test Net One (the implementation of the underlying network spread across 200 nodes in 3 continents) to Test Net Two (which will enable applications to be built on top of the network). This will be a much more exciting stage, as it will enable many users and enthusiasts to start seeing the network in action for the first time. These will be simple apps at first, but will become more complex as Test Net Two grows.
Test Net Three will enable us to implement Safecoin before we open up the network to everyone. We will shortly publish a more detailed roadmap that will enable everyone to follow our progress more closely.
Hypothetically speaking, as the genesis for this new protocol, couldn’t you be attacked or coerced, just like Yahoo was? Can’t forces threaten you and destroy this ideal in its infancy? This is why Bitcoin was decentralized from the start, and Satoshi Nakamoto has never been heard from since. Doesn’t the publicity also make a target, and endanger the mission itself?
Our situation differs from Yahoo in many ways. Firstly, all our code is open-sourced so if any person, group or company doesn’t like what we are doing with the network they can fork it and do it better. The decentralized nature of the network means that after it is launched it cannot be turned off, and if anything were to happen to MaidSafe the company, the network would live on.
MaidSafe has also set up some developer pods. This is with a view to ensuring that the knowledge of the underling code base (and the ability to maintain the network) exists [without] the company, removing MaidSafe as a central point of weakness. These pods are at a very early stage, but they currently exist in San Francisco and Montreal, and a Washington, DC pod will be coming online soon.
The publicity possibly does make us a target, but it is not possible to launch a new global network without telling people. The network requires users to provide their resources, third party application developers to make great apps, and involve all sorts of people with different skill sets, to help peer review the network.
Say someone wants to join you, donate their time, or their digital currency, to your vision of “The Internet” of the future. How can they get involved?
There are lots of different ways people can get involved, the following page details how: http://maidsafe.net/get-involved.