We are building a web native search engine that “you” control. Introducing Aquila Network.
Search engines are the second biggest gatekeepers on the Internet after DNS. It’s a surprise that we still don’t have a native search feature built into the fabric of the Web.
So, we decided to do it.
The internet is believed to be the stepping stone towards the third industrial revolution. With the Web, we have liberated information and thereby knowledge. Even from the early days, discovering the right information across the web was a pain point to be solved.
DNS was one such successful discovery mechanism (layer one) that we have adopted. It abstracts the IP address of a content server with meaningful words that are easy to remember. As the web grew exponentially, search engines added another layer of abstractions over DNS to discover relevant sections of the content being served.
Today, we are highly reliant on these search engines to navigate through the ever exploding complex web of knowledge. The big players in the space know this fact and some of them are abusing this power to a greater extent beyond their logical boundaries, that almost broke the free expression of the Web itself.
We know that almost everything on the Web is sustained by direct or indirect advertisement. Each click you make nudges you closer to a product that you would buy in the near future. We haven’t seen an alternative economic model that’s capable of coming in par with this yet.
After 2009, some visionaries (including us) claimed the dawn of a new model driven by digital tokenomics — which anyway should prove its antifragility in the coming future to be useful.
So as we know of today, the Web needed the advertisement industry to sustain and provide remarkable services. However, the top commercial search engines (which rely on original content creators) took this model and built monopoly blackholes that are so powerful to attract most of the advertisement revenues to themselves. This allowed them to carefully control the revenue pipelines in such a way to forcefully shape the content ecosystem by starving the original content creators to abide by the rules they define (SEO).
The actual problem
It doesn’t matter whatever business models (big or small) that anyone adopts as long as it doesn’t do much harm to the ecosystem. The actual problem here is that the ground is not level. The fruitful public content on the web is disappearing, misinformation, fake news and clickbaits are growing exponentially, many of the genuine websites are adopting paywalls and becoming only fans; a remarkable percentage of content is being served app only.
So, what’s the actual problem? Yes, the open Web is shrinking, it’s going backwards, becoming less discoverable. And who is responsible? The search engines and their control that extends beyond the Web’s (inc. W3) protocols itself.
The links are disappearing, Page-Rank is dead and the open Web is draining. Today’s centralized search engines are cutting the branch they’re sitting on.
The solution is obviously simple. Sadly, it’s being ignored through conscious efforts.
- Level the technology gap in building search engines for everybody
- Define a protocol to seamlessly replicate search indexes across search engines
- Implement an incentive structure that reward both the content creators and technology providers equally
Search engine technology is not rocket science. With today’s technology, building a search engine is relatively easy. The existing complexity in scalability is merely a side effect of maintaining a stubborn central system that does want to keep everything to itself. Multiple centralized search engines doing the same practice of keeping redundant, non compatible search indexes at the expense of energy and space, only to crutch the Web is just insane when we think about it.
A few years back, two of the most popular mobile operating systems introduced different features to extend their search capabilities into applications. It seems the majority of developers are reluctant to fully open up their search indexes. Why? Because, as long as the blackhole business model stays the same, the app traffic would decay by only making it up to the host’s virtual assistants. Most app developers rely on app traffic and cross selling as an income source.
Progress is when we have information discoverability including closed platforms. The incentives should be structured in a way to encourage the creators to do so.
We now have the right technology advancements to achieve all three proposals we have made in the solution section.
- Fixing the gap through universal data structures: Deep learning models are the best information compressors that we have so far. We’re now able to map any type of information (text, images, video, audio, graph) into tensors (vectors) and perform search over it.
- Every search node is compatible with one another and indexes are transferable: We have designed a replication protocol (inspired by couchDB and IPFS) that every node should follow. This protocol ensures eventual consistency across search nodes and eliminates unwanted redundancy through content addressing.
- The protocol is open ended to allow experimentation of any economic models by the users: We have made the protocol simple and open to experimentation. This we hope will allow the users to try out both old and new economic models on top of it as a separate layer. To encourage experimentation on decentralized tokenomics models, we’ve added native support for state of the art public key cryptography. It is architectured in such a way that the end users have full control over the keys. Each content a user (usually a wallet) put out in the network is signed (ownership and authentication) and optionally can be encrypted (privacy) between authorized nodes.
We’re a tiny team of millennial engineers who grew with the Internet. We have experienced firsthand how the dynamics of the Web changed over the years. Now frustrated by the information drainage problem the Web is facing, we wanted to do something. We have been brainstorming for the past 2+ years, trying out different architectures to come up with a solution to this problem. Finally, inspired by the Simplicity of Bitcoin whitepaper itself, we’ve realized that many big problems can be solved through “locally centralized, globally decentralized” architecture. That’s how Aquila Network is designed.
We’re solving this problem for ourselves and others like us. If you want to support this effort, contribute a tiny fraction of your brain power. Everything is open sourced, try it out and let us know your feedback. Check out https://aquila.network for more information. If you are a non technical person, we could manage everything for you at an affordable price.
Aquila Network matured in a-mma’s technology incubation as AquilaDB