One could hardly accuse Bitcloud's developers of lacking ambition. The small team wants to decentralise the Internet, and possibly even replace much of the Internet infrastructure we use today.
It's quite a goal, and to make it all come together the founders will need quite a few backers, but the concept is rather interesting to say the least. Instead of using processing power to move around digital currencies, Bitcloud wants to use a very similar method to provide Internet services.
Instead of mining cryptocoins, Bitcloud miners (if you can call them that) would allocate their hardware resources to other uses: providing storage, computing or routing. They would be rewarded for their efforts, depending on how much bandwidth or storage they contribute.
Cloudcoins and processor cycles
According to the Bitcloud white paper, the system would be underpinned by a digital currency dubbed "Cloudcoins". A key argument in almost every critique of bitcoin and other digital currencies is their lack of intrinsic value. However, it should not apply to cloudcoins: they might not be worth their weight in gold, but they would be backed by actual services provided by the miners.
The network would use a routing process similar to Tor's hidden services, and it would employ a “proof of bandwidth” to ensure only connected nodes generate money – thus avoiding any attempts to fool the network and flood it with useless connections. In essence, this approach would allow “miners” to make serious money, but only if they perform serious services.
To do that, they would need quite a bit of hardware, not just a couple of ASIC rigs running in the basement. However, this approach might attract some serious organisations and companies. For example, if a business has plenty of spare storage and computing power, it could contribute it to the network when its offices are fast asleep and its infrastructure isn't being utilised.
Long way to go
Although it is a very interesting concept, the group admits that there is still a lot of work ahead. The protocol has not been finalised yet, and they need more developers to sort everything out.
The team is still anonymous and according to the BBC, they acknowledge that they are only at the beginning of the project. One application proposed by the group is a decentralised version of YouTube, which could replace traditional video streaming services. Everyone who contributes storage and bandwidth would be compensated along with artists, who would make a buck or two from advertising.
Since it is all theoretical at this point, it is hard to say whether the concept will actually work at this point. Nevertheless, geeks should love it. As the tech industry is focusing on Cloud, SaaS and other services, there is clearly a market for such a network.
Oddly enough, we think environmentalists should like the idea, too. It would drastically improve efficiency, as otherwise unused hardware could be used to contribute to the network. What’s more – the network may be incredibly competitive, as it would reward participants with the latest hardware and the lowest operating costs.
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