HOW TO BUILD THE NEW WEB WITHOUT GOOGLE
security foibles, its “aggregate and advertise” model, its avoidance of
price signals, its silos of customer data, and its visions of machine mind
are unlikely to survive the root-and-branch revolution of distributed
peer-to-peer technology, which I call the “cryptocosm.”
all around us, scores of thousands of engineers and entrepreneurs are
contriving a new system of the world that transcends the limits and
illusions of the Google realm.
the Google era, the prime rule of the Internet is “Communications
first.” That means everything is free to be copied, moved, and mutated.
While most of us welcome “free” on the understanding that it means “no
charge,” what we really want is to get what we ordered rather than what
the authority chooses to provide. In practice, “free” means insecure,
amorphous, unmoored, and changeable from the top. This
communications-first principle served us well for many years.
Internet is a giant asynchronous replicator that communicates by copying.
Regulating all property rights in the information economy are the
copy-master kings, chiefly at Google.
this system, security is a function of the network, applied from the top,
rather than a property of the device and its owner. So everything rises to
the top, the Googleplex, which achieves its speed and efficiency by
treating its users as if they were making random choices. That’s the
essence of the mathematical model behind their search engine. You are a
random function of Google.
you are not random; you are a unique genetic entity that can- not be
factored back into an egg and a sperm. You are unbreakably encrypted by
biology. These asymmetrical natural codes are the ruling model and
metaphor for enduring security. You start by defining not the goal but the
ground state. Before you build the function or the structure, you build
the foundation. It is the ultimate non-random reality. The ground state is
different from Google’s rule of communications first is the law of the
Cryptocosm. The first rule is the barn-door law: “Security first.”
Security is not a procedure or a mechanism; it is an architecture. Its
keys and doors, walls and channels, roofs and windows define property and
privacy at the device-level. They determine who can go where and do what.
Security cannot be retrofitted, patched, or improvised from above.
you, security means not some average level of surveillance at the network
level but the safety of your own identity, your own device, and your own
property. You occupy and control a specific time and space. You cannot be
blended or averaged. Just as you are part of a biological ledger,
inscribed through time in DNA codes and irreversible by outside power,
your properties and transactions compose an immutable ledger. Just as you
are bound in time, every entry in the cryptocosmic ledger is timestamped.
The second rule of the cryptocosm derives from the first: “Centralization
is not safe.” Secure positions are decentralized ones, as human minds and
DNA code are decentralized. Darwin’s mistake, and Google’s today, is to
imagine that identity is a blend rather than a code—that machines can be a
singularity, but human beings are random outcomes.
tells thieves what digital assets are most valuable and where they are. It
solves their most difficult problems. Unless power and information are
distributed throughout the system peer to peer, they are vulnerable to
manipulation and theft from the blenders at the top.
The third rule is “Safety last.”1 Unless the architecture achieves its
desired goals, safety and security are irrelevant. Security is a crucial
asset of a functional system. Requiring the system to be safe at every
step of construction results in a kludge: a machine too complex to
fourth rule is “Nothing is free. This rule is fundamental to human dignity
and worth. Capitalism requires companies to serve their customers and to
accept their proof of work, which is money.
money, companies devalue their customers.
fifth rule is “Time is the final measure of cost.” Time is what remains
scarce when all else becomes abundant: the speed of light and the span of
life. The scarcity of time trumps an abundance of money.
sixth rule: “Stable money endows humans with dignity and control.” Stable
money reflects the scarcity of time. Without stable money, an economy is
governed only by time and power.
seventh rule is the “asymmetry law,” reproducing biological asymmetry. A
message coded by a public key can be decrypted only by the private key,
but the private key cannot be calculated from the public key. Asymmetric
codes that are prohibitively difficult to break but easy to verify give
power to the people. By contrast, symmetrical encryption gives power to
the owners of the most costly computers.
eighth rule is “Private keys rule.” They are what is secure. They cannot
be blended or changed from on top any more than your DNA can be changed or
blended from above.
ninth rule is “Private keys are held by individual human beings, not by
governments or Google.” Private keys enforce property rights and
identities. In a challenge-response interaction, the challenger takes the
public key and encrypts a message. The private responder proves identity
by decrypting, amending, and returning the message encrypted anew with his
private key. This process is a digital signature. By decrypting the new
message with a public key, the final recipient is assured that the sender
is who he says he is. The document has been digitally signed.
of private keys distributes power. The owner of a private key (id) can
always respond to a challenge by proving ownership of the identity of a
public address and the contents of a public ledger. Thus, in response to
government claims and charges, the owner of the private key can prove his
work and his record. By signing with a private key, the owner can always
prove title to an item of property defined by a public key on a digital
tenth rule is “Behind every private key and its public key is the human
interpreter.” A focus on individual human beings makes meaningful
will your experience of the world change when these ten rules define the
is hierarchical. Life after Google will be heterarchical. Google is
top-down. Life after Google will be bottom-up. Google rules by the
insecurity of all the lower layers in the stack. A porous stack enables
the money and power to be sucked up to the top. In life after Google, a
secure ground state in the individual human being, registered and
timestamped in a digital ledger, will prevent this suction of hierarchical
Google now controls your information and uses it free of charge, you will
be master of your own information and charge for it freely. Try the Brave
It gives you power over your data and enables you to charge for them.
Google envisages an era of machine dominance through artificial
intelligence, you will rule your machines, and they will serve you as
intelligent, willing slaves. You will be the “oracle” that programs your
life and dictates to your tools.
Google’s “free world” tries to escape the laws of scarcity and the webs of
price, you will live in a world brimming with information on the real
costs and most efficient availabilities of what you want and need. The
proof of your work will trump the claims of top-down speed and
hierarchical power. The crude imperatives of “free” will give way to the
calibrated voluntary exchanges of free markets and micropayments.
the Google world strains you through sieves of diversity and runs you
through blenders of conformity, the new world will subsist on the
foundational realities of individual uniqueness and choice. Whereas the
Google world is stifling entrepreneurs’ access to the public markets
through initial public offerings, which are down 90 percent in two
decades, the new world will offer an array of new paths to enterprise.
From initial coin offerings and token issues to crowd- funded projects,
new financial devices are already empowering a new generation of
entrepreneurs. The queues of abject “unicorns”—privately held start-ups
worth a billion dollars or more—outside the merger and acquisition offices
of Google and its rivals will be dispersed, replaced by herds of
“gazelles” headed for public markets at last.
Google attempts to capture your eyeballs with ubiquitous advertisements,
you will see advertisements at your own volition, when you want them, and
you will be paid for your time and attention. Again, Brave is the leader
of this movement.
is not a magic wand but a measuring stick, not wealth but a gauge of it.
Whereas money in the Google era is fodder for a five-
trillion-dollar-a-day currency exchange—that’s seventy-five times the
amount of the world’s trade in goods and services—you will command
unmediated money that measures value rather than manipulates it. Whereas
the Google world is layered with middlemen and trusted third parties, you
will deal directly with others around the globe with scant fees or delays.
is a peer-to-peer swarm of new forms of direct transactions beyond
national borders and new forms of Uber and Airbnb beyond corporate gouges.
Whereas the Google world confines you to one place and time and life, the
new world will open up new dimensions and options of new life and
experience where the only judge is the sovereign you.
the promise that human dignity will once again take its place on the
Internet and that human beings will be masters of the cryptocosm sound too
good to be true?
these principles are enigmatic today, to explain their sources and
ultimate success, we must, as Caltech’s Carver Mead tells us, “listen to
the technology and find out what it is telling us.”