Paul Grignon shares his thoughts on why the current

Privacy and Anonymity for bitcoin via true distribution

cross posted from https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=412321.msg4466956#msg44
OK Up front I think bitcoin is an amazing technology, I did in 2009 when I was presented with the paper via some economists who were looking at a proposal I was involved in for a crypto currency (Perpetual Coin in part designed by me, and a paper authored by Paul Grignon). I wrote bitcoin off somewhat not believing in the network strategy and privacy concerns it brought. I never 'got it' really and I am delighted to have been proven wrong. In fact it feels great :-) I have lost touch with the community until recently though as I have been day and night on a related project (as you will see).
I do still feel there are concerns though and the issues I feel some of these can be addressed and these are:
1: Wallet security and availability across devices (been looking at trezor (thanks to goonsack on reddit) as well, brilliant and can help a lot).
2: Distribution of blockchain (crude way of putting a core protocol change) to ensure privacy, anonymity and importantly scaling.
3: A compelling reason for people to have real nodes on the network.
I feel these are real issues and they do require an answer in a relatively short timescale for mass adoption.
The Maidsafe network can achieve all the above as it's already aimed at privacy security and freedom for all. The mechanisms we have chosen are completely aligned with the motivation of bitcoin, but I believe we can add to the infrastructure relatively easily (as you will see).
I would love to engage with the bitcoin community to sort the problems above and give people everything, security, privacy and freedom in the digital world to allow the same in the natural world. I feel there is a significant opportunity driven by an increasing need for protection from many angles, even governments at times and this should not be only data and communications, but also money (ignoring the debates about currency, money, value store and the likes).
I feel there is a huge opportunity for real change now and this will be a world shaking move if we can provide the worlds population with:
1: Security of their own data
2: Ability to communicate without snooping
3: Ability to transact without intervention
4: Ability to share any data with whom they wish
5: Ability to publish a website or any data without loss of privacy
Importantly all of the above is under the control of the person doing it, nobody can stop, snoop or otherwise ban people, there is no third party involved at all. MaidSafe does not know it's users and never can, just as bitcoin is/"should be".
These things brought together would allow some amazing opportunities we cannot envisage today, for instance an auction/shop type system for goods and services, where people can post info, get paid for products and services privately and strictly between only the parties involved. Then bitcoin can be earned, spent and cycle as it should. There are arbitration systems around now, even escrow systems and these can be adopted to an private, secure and anonymous system pretty easily. In any case I really do not want to make this an essay, the opportunities are beyond my ability to imagine at any rate.
The project I have been involved with since 2006 is MaidSafe (http://www.maidsafe.net 10 minute video) and the vision is to replace todays network infrastructure with a totally distributed system. This is not simple and requires several key components:
1: Data security beyond logical algorithmic protection (AES and others is not good enough). Physical security is also required (i.e. without companies or people being involved)
2: An autonomous network that requires zero human input that guarantees integrity of data and that can self heal (this is very hard and requires PKI to be mathematically managed for a start i.e. no verisign or web of trust)
3: An ability to log onto the network (where no servers exist) or to log into your own data (where ever it is located, nobody knows, not us or you).
I am glad to say we have achieved all of this and you can see the code here https://github.com/maidsafe/MaidSafe/wiki as it is now in 'in house testing'.
You can think of the network itself as a perfect key/value store and a quid pro quo network. So a user gives up a portion of disk space and they can store data on the network, if their space reduces their storage reduces (they can become read only). The network uses very high levels of encryption and obfuscation to ensure security, but importantly masks actions by people and provides pretty decent levels of privacy by several steps, one such thing is the login details, these do not relate in any way to the public ID people choose, also the data manipulation keys used are not linked to either of these keys. We can create keys for nearly any action, making a new network connection with different ID's for different actions, this also creates new connections to the network on different ports etc. so there are a lot of advantages. The network also encrypts all traffic and creates encrypted connections across routers evading any man in the middle attack (uses DHT to retrieve public keys to communicate with known nodes)
The technology itself is very difficult to put in a message such as this so I will keep to this short introduction and let the website and wiki/github allow people to investigate.
I know that there will be questions on the technology but also the company. In my opinion companies can be dangerous if they are 'profit only' driven. So I will try and explain a little about us and the issues we try and resolve. In any case I think as a community we should be grateful of companies, but when they get large venture backing on route to IPO etc. we need to be careful, the profit at all costs strategy is not good for the community. This is a generalisation and not all companies are dangerous, but it's like everything, there needs to be care taken to ensure the company vision matches the communities vision or is at least aligned and beneficial.
Maidsafe Vision
MaidSafe was created to provide privacy security and freedom for all the people of the world. This pretty much sums it up. In doing so it has created a system that uses cryptography to provide a very secure and private system allowing people freedom to communicate, transact and importantly move mankind forward through innovation, logic and fact. I also think this network is completely aligned with a natural system as opposed to the intermediary type networks we currently have. I do not think any human should trust a company with their data, ever! This brings me to a very important point, we are a company.
Maidsafe the company
MaidSafe is a very unusual company, it's private, funded by friends family and recently some investors closer to angel type investment. The founder gave away all his shares (80% of the business) to a foundation for innovation and education (50%) and a staff scheme (30%). The company has always stated investors should get a great return (we could not have done it without them) but it should not be unlimited. We intend that the foundation and staff hold all equity after investors are paid. There will be an explanatory video on the website soon, it should have already been published but we had some internal issues to address first. That will explain all. We were the first 'fab lab' in Scotland (currently closed again till we launch proper) and host the Chernobyl kids for a few days every year, this part of the business probably explains more than I could here, but the intention is that we innovate or die. We promote staff starting up, even in competition, we believe if others can do better they should and we will help if we can. Most importantly we believe that payment for an innovation is required, but continuous payment is counter productive. to be continuously paid we know we have to come up with newer products and not stifle any other business. As products pay the investors they should become under the ownership of the people completely.
In terms of the MaidSafe network we have always promoted that as 'your network' and we strongly feel it's important the ownership is not MaidSafe's but the peoples, this is perhaps the most difficult thing to explain, but vital to get across. The GPL helps but not completely I feel (don't want to get into gpl/bsd arguments either :-) ), but I know that projects such as this cannot be under the roof of any company or conglomerate.
MaidSafe Patents
Yes we have patents and many in the pipeline. We have done this to protect the network though from large companies who may steal the system, embed it and take the market. We have done a lot to ensure that anyone can use our tech at any time for any reason and never be prevented (the single most important issue for me personally is that we never ever prevent innovation). If people make revenue from the code by selling it or services then there is a payment (1%) in place. This should tend to zero as investors are paid back though. The patents are owned by the foundation and licensed back to Maidsafe, in case of company failure then the technology should always be protected in this manner. The day our portfolio is ended will be a great day for me, until then I am glad to have them for the sake of everyone involved.
What are we looking for ?
quite simply I would love to be able to get all the facts across about the network and how it can help society. The last seven years have been very tough, raising over £2Million in Scotland is not easy and ensuring we maintain our vision and integrity is also a battle at times. To get to a position of self sustainability is critical to allow the network to flourish and people to benefit. At the same time the crypto currencies time has come, as in nature when evolution fails we try something different and this is an obvious area where the status quo is not going to happen. So all of this comes together and we are in the position to help, but we are a very small team that's continually underfunded and massively overworked. Patches welcomed is an understatement :-)
I think the bitcoin community can benefit from us as well as us benefiting from them and we can shake this world. I work every day all day to make that happen and now think it's time to reach out and gather some support and get it done. I am keen to help out and answer any questions that I am sure this message will create.
Thanks for reading this far
David Irvine
tl;dr
This is an autonomous network, that could provide people with secure storage and communications as well as distribute the blockchain in a manner that would be very scalable and private as well as ensuring bitcoin nodes are plentiful and always on line. The workload should not be underestimated though as this is pretty complex and will require testnet testing on a large scale.
I am looking for feedback and mostly development/testing assistance to finalise the project and get the whole thing up and tested on a large scale test with dedicated and capable early adopters.
www.maidsafe.net (overview video)
https://github.com/maidsafe/MaidSafe-Vault/wiki (the crux and code ;-)
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