For Companies Living in a Centralized World, it is Time to Embrace Decentralization as a Defense Strategy
Recent events around the world are exposing the risks of relying completely on centralized servers and systems for digital business. Whether it is through censorship or IP blocking or other ways that get between you and your customers, the power of big tech and government has been in full force as evidenced by Parler, WallStreetBets, Facebook and Twitter account suspensions and more. We have all come to rely on the integration of centralized systems for operating our businesses, but this has come with risk that can now be mitigated.
The decentralized computer world of peer-to-peer (P2P) goes back over forty years and was a focus for David Chaum’s work in cryptography and other computer sciences. He progressed numerous technologies starting in the 1970’s that form a basis of much of the decentralized movement today. But it was Napster around the year 2000 that got a lot of attention and subsequent legal action for allowing copyrighted music to be distributed without the owner’s permission through P2P sharing.
With the rising surge of blockchain, edge computing and technologies like IPFS, decentralized systems are poised to provide a major advantage to businesses that embrace them. They have gone way past the murky world of unauthorized file sharing and are proving to be viable alternatives to a completely centralized environment. Decentralization and distributed technology provide a way to get closer to customers without interruption.
Have you heard the term “Start Local, Go Global”? With the rising prevalence of the Internet of Things (IoT), all devices that are connected to the internet can become data storage units or possibly blockchain nodes or artificial intelligence (AI) processing computers. With millions of these devices concentrated in smaller and smaller areas, the ability to store your information locally first, but have it still reside in globally distributed systems is real. By integrating up through 5G interconnectivity, hybrid clouds and front-running comet streams of data flow, we can get to the personal control and use of data wherever we are with limited exposure to a centralized authority or human-enabled censorship.
This is not to say that there is complete freedom from laws and cultural influence. Just like in the case of Napster, you are in control of what you do with the technology and may be subject to legal issues if you break the law. But humanity generally provides the guide-rails for behavior and that is no different in the decentralized world as it is in the centralized world.
For business, risk mitigation comes in many forms. We train our people to follow rules and policies to limit risk of things like sexual misconduct, corruption and other “bad” behaviors. We create firewalls and cybersecurity for potential data breaches. We teach empathy for customer retention and use processes to take financial risk out of manufacturing. It goes on and on. Centralized tampering with data storage, flow and access has not been well addressed and it is one of those things that we can now prepare for and protect against.
Decentralization has to start at the core, the naming system. You can’t have true protection while still being subject to a naming and pointing environment that can be interrupted. The Butterfly Protocol is the first place to start as it creates the way to point to assets on the decentralized web. Then, you develop or deploy decentralized applications that are used to bring the assets into use such as what Butterfly is doing with the Butterfly Social app. We use blockchain names, custom browsers, extensions and other methods to allow anyone to go off the centralized grid while being able to stay online.
At Butterfly, we don’t advocate for a complete break with the traditional centralized systems today. Instead, we are preparing the marketplace with a transition period toward supportive decentralization. If you are part of a company that uses the internet as a major part of your business, the time is now to start looking at decentralization as a risk mitigation and business continuity strategy.