Dominic Williams Dfinity

How DFINITY will Evolve the Internet and Tackle the Big Tech Monopoly

This is a talk with Dominic Williams, Founder and Chief Scientist at Dfinity explaining their data center based decentralized Open Internet.
Bloomberg: So, talk to us about how you are envisaging a decentralized internet. What’s wrong with it in the moment?
Dominic: Well, I think there’s lots of good things about internet. Dfinity is working on something called the Internet Computer which extends its functionality. So, the internet computer can host a new breed of secure hack-proof software systems, which addresses the security problems that we see today and it can also host a new breed of Open Internet Service which can compete with big tech and solve some of the problems we’re seeing emerging.
Bloomberg: But the idea here, if we sort of decentralize it, how exactly do we structure it in a way where you can actually scale it up to the point where it’s going to be just as useful as the Internet today? Because right now going online is pretty seamless.
Dominic: The internet is created by a protocol that combines thousands of private networks and the Internet computer will be created by a protocol that combines thousands of data centers.
Bloomberg: Who is controlling those data centers though?
Dominic: It’s a protocol, in the same way the Internet’s controlled by a protocol and that compares to something like Amazon Web Services, which is really this at a proprietary closed infrastructure of a private company.
Dfinity The Internet Computer

Bloomberg: You mentioned taking on big tech, how do you plan to do that? Is it through cloud? And we know Amazon Web Services has a cloud product, Microsoft’s Azure has a cloud product. How specifically do you plan to tackle taking on big tech?

Dominic: So, the Internet Computer makes it possible to build Internet services in a different way. They’re called Open Internet Services and they’re built using something called Autonomous Software. So, nobody owns an open Internet service but it’s updated by an open governance system and they have an advantage or will have an advantage because they can provide guarantees both to users and also to entrepreneurs that want to build on top of them. So, today there’s something called platform risk stalking the world of tech.

An early example of this would have been Zynga, a social games company. It was very successful, it was built on top of Facebook, it IPOed, its valuation was north of 10 billion dollars and then Facebook changed the rules. The APIs that it had built on top of changed. A few months later Zynga had lost 85% of its value.

More recently, for example, LinkedIn which is the business directory provided APIs that hundreds of startups used to incorporate business profiles into their own services and then LinkedIn revoke those APIs and of course you can imagine what happened so those startups that depended upon the business profiles. The only people who have kept their API access were other big tech players like Salesforce and Microsoft. So, for these reasons if you build on big tech today you’re really building on sand. If you go to a VC and say ‘Look, I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve got this idea to create a new service but I need to build on top of big tech’, you’ll likely get left out of the room. And even the successful recent tech IPOs, I think it’s 17 or 18 of the last 22, mentioned platform risk as being an existential risk for them.
Bloomberg: I’m interested in the fact that you’ve been to big VCs yourself, like Andreessen Horowitz and Polychain Capital. When you explain the peer-to-peer Internet vision to them, how long in an investment are they looking at? When do you gain the critical mass? How do you ensure that you’ve got enough people involved so that this becomes reality sooner rather than later?
Dominic: I think all of them are long-term investors and we believe in the potential of the Internet Computer and the value and the impact it can produce. If we didn’t create the Internet Computer, somebody else would, it’s a natural evolution of the Internet. Ginn’s Nets started off by just providing connectivity and now it’s going to be able to host secure software systems and open Internet services too. So, we’re extending the internet, the technology is available to do this, building on top of advanced computer science and cryptography and so on, if we didn’t do it someone else would do it. So, people are really just backing sort of the long-term evolution of the internet and what it’s gonna do for us.
Bloomberg: What makes you think that the Googles and Amazons of the world are going to relinquish their grip in any sort of way?
Dominic: Well, they’re not and I think what’s going to happen is that they’re going to become increasingly monopolistic, we’re going to see more consolidation, regulators are going to find it hard to deal with this, the first attempts are things like the accept cookies dialog you see on every website. You never see it incidentally on Facebook or Google, it’s just every independent website now has to present the accept cookies dialogue. They’re not very good at fixing stuff, they let Facebook buy Instagram and Whatsapp, they let Google buy Waze and more recently DeepMind, which I think will prove to be a huge mistake. So, over time they’re going to increase the level of regulation and big tech becomes a quasi-nationalized industry which is very highly regulated and then there will be the free open Internet.


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