Big Brother is Watching, but you might be able to jailbreak your Telescreen. Elastos, a Chinese-based blockchain project, is inching towards developing a decentralized “SmartWeb” of home computers and other devices, adding extra layers of privacy and data protection than current infrastructure allows.
In a press release, the project announced that 100,000 Elastos TV Boxes were sold in August alone, thanks to a partnership with Shanghai Shijiu TV. The figures put Elastos on track to reach a million Carrier Nodes by the end of the year, providing the infrastructure for the future decentralized internet.
Each TV Box has features for ‘family and friend’ interaction, personal cloud storage, and storage in the Interplanetary File System, the company says. The TV Boxes will eventually be home to decentralized applications as well, which will be compatible across the Elastos Smart Web.
In an exclusive interview with Crypto Briefing, Elastos CEO Rong Chen elaborated on Elastos’ long term plans.
“Every family will have a personal cloud computer,” through the Elastos decentralized carrier, he said.
It’s like the carrier for phones. Think of it like AT&T. AT&T is a carrier, but they can literally revoke your phone number. We can have a carrier which is open source, neutral, and autonomously running, powered by the Elastos Blockchain. And we’re issuing decentralized IDs to the users, so no one can revoke your internet ID.
The idea of using “identities” online might raise eyebrows, but Mr. Chen emphasizes that this isn’t quite the same as a mandatory KYC. “It’s more like using a Bitcoin address,” he says. “Because it’s a peer-to-peer communication, I can take your public key from the blockchain and talk to you.”
But Elastos is not in the business of policing activities on the decentralized web. “We’re not pretending to be the FBI,” Mr. Chen says. “The internet’s a neutral playground for everyone.”
“When we open this decentralized carrier, we’re opening peer-to-peer computing in addition to peer-to-peer network. It’s not that easy to have a middleman attack,” Mr. Chen said. “Because of the miners running the Elastos chain, autonomously, there’s no operator or corporation behind it.”
Two Networks In One
Mr. Chen emphasized that system won’t all be on the blockchain—so you won’t have to worry about your embarrassing pictures being stored on a permanent ledger. Only some functions, like transactions of value and identification, will be processed through the mined blockchain. The latter, as Crypto Briefing has reported, already has its security guaranteed through the merged mining partnership with Bitmain.
Other functions—like swapping data packets on voice calls, or data storage, or TV programs and video games—will exist in a normal, peer-to-peer network somewhat similar to Bittorrent. “The Carrier is a different layer,” Mr. Chen explained. “It’s a heavy-duty, commercial grade, videoconferencing, file sharing network, which is not possible on the blockchain.”
That network is secured by the Elastos network’s supernodes, which act as relays for data in exchange for Elastos tokens generated from staking and token inflation.
It’s hard to read the crystal balls, especially for a project as technical and complicated as Elastos. But for most blockchain systems, the hardest part of the process is recruiting enough users to benefit from the network effects and economies of scale.
For Elastos that’s easy—the blockchain network is well on its way to reaching a mass adoption-sized user base, through partnership with Shanghai Shijiu TV. The hard part is getting people to use it.
The author is invested in Bitcoin.