If money makes the world go 'round, the Internet makes businesses workable in the digital age. But after today, that Internet might never be the same, assuming the Decentralized Architecture for a Democratic Internet (DADI) Foundation has its way.
DADI announced on Thursday that it is rolling out a new peer-to-peer network as an alternative to the traditional Internet. The new network, which is built on blockchain technology, is designed to be decentralized and majority owned by the public, utilizing spare computing power from the devices already in people's homes and offices. This represents a major shift from the traditional data center-based infrastructure, 74 percent of which is controlled by Microsoft (31 percent), Amazon (26 percent), IBM (9 percent) and Google (8).
What you might get as a user
DADI hopes that, by decentralizing, they can offer fairer Internet access. But the new approach also might yield some quantifiable benefits for users that could affect competitive edge.
"For businesses, it'll mean a few key benefits," says DADI founder and CEO Joseph Denne. "The network is faster (because information is served locally, rather than from a data center many miles away), more secure (as content is split across thousands of machines rather than stored in a single location), more reliable (downtime is less likely, as there is no central point of failure), and it's up to 60 percent cheaper than traditional options."
Denne adds that, because of these advantages, there's high potential for companies to produce digital products faster without as many inefficiencies or privacy concerns. He also asserts that migrating to the network is quick and painless, which removes a key hurdle for IT services.
But if those possibilities aren't enough to convince you, there's one more perk to consider. As outlined in DADI's press release for the network:
"Consumers will be able to link their own device, and earn income in exchange for becoming a contributor to the network. The level of this income will vary depending on the amount of power each user contributes to the network."
Yes, you read that right. DADI plans to pay you to participate.
Denne compares the payback to the way people already can get money back from selling extra electricity generated from solar panels back to the National Grid. Here, DADI is purchasing the computing power you'd otherwise waste, giving you a way to get a bit of passive income from the devices you've got sitting on standby. The foundation claims that, with this model, 85 percent of generated revenue will go directly to consumers and businesses, while 10 percent will go to maintenance. Just 5 percent goes back to the foundation.
Poised to compete with the giants
DADI got its start when the founding team put $2 million of their own funds into research and development. But the idea quickly gained attention, and in January, DADI closed a $30 million crowdfunding round for the concept in January. That's the UK's largest first-level funding round for the year so far.
Early adopters can start contributing to the DADI network starting in July. The foundation plans to roll out the network through the rest of the year based on geography. But DADI's already brought some major players into its court--UK telecom giant BT, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Limited Edition and European media house Bauer Media all already use DADI's existing services. And DADI has signed new partnerships with additional businesses like including Agorai, Verasity and INDIX.
But perhaps most attention grabbing is DADI's partnership with cloud services reseller Wirehive. That partnership means you can see DADI right alongside legacy providers like Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
A better Internet, but all in good time
Denne recognizes that there might be some hesitation from users and sees that as the foundation's biggest roadblock. But he's confident they'll eventually make the shift.
"This new network, and the idea behind it, represents a major change. It's a radical overhaul to the way we think of cloud computing and the Internet, and the way individuals and businesses build products on the Internet.
"So like any major innovation, it will take time. It will be a long-term project to tell that story, to help everyone understand--not fear--the change, and to bring less technology-advanced consumers on that journey."
In addition to offering education, DADI plans to roll out its own devices over the coming months that are made specifically to power and simplify use of the network. Those advances could serve as a strong additional incentive to give the network a chance.
The need for the Internet isn't likely to change anytime soon. But the way we control and access it can. And as DADI's product director, Paul Regan, points out, unrestricted access to the Web has made life easier for millions of people. In fact, consider that the Internet has become so critical that, after disasters, access is named as a basic necessity, right along with water or shelter. That's because people need information to organize and get help. The United Nations also already considers access to be a basic human right because of how it contributes to greater justice, equality, competition and opportunity. In this context, DADI shouldn't necessarily be the only choice, and it likely will have its own quirks. But if it can level the playing field all while helping economy, security and individual wellbeing, that sounds pretty darn good.