History & Vision

“If bitcoin solved the double-spend problem for digital currency, then Elastos is solving the double-spend problem for all data on the internet.”
--Rong Chen
Elastos is building a new internet where all communication of data is peer-to-peer, all storage of data is decentralized, and all ownership of data is verifiable with blockchain immutability and smart contract capability. This is the platform for a modern internet: a fully interoperable infrastructure designed for decentralized applications, backed by the hashpower of BTC, and fully capable of utilizing smart contracts.

Landscape of the Modern Internet: An Infrastructural History and Analysis

Approximately thirty-five years ago, the internet was designed as a decentralized network where anyone could plug in and no one was in charge. Yet while this ideal of digital decentralization conferred great social and economic benefits, it was not without drawbacks. Because of the decentralized nature of the early internet, as more and more users plugged into its infrastructure, they suddenly became vulnerable to a great deal of new, digital dangers, and were unable to trust other users who they did not know and could not see. While decentralization offered freedom, equality, and access like never before, it also produced novel threats.

This new danger was a new opportunity.

The open platform of the early internet quickly led to the rise of corporate-owned walled-gardens: centralized entities that promised to protect users and establish a space with built-in trust and safety. The opportunity at hand was clear: unsuspecting and novice users got the protection they wanted on the internet, offering them safety while interacting with other users; meanwhile, the newfound digital giants got to control all of the data in the process. At this point, data was a relatively new concept and few knew of its potential value, certainly not the average internet user who simply wanted to explore innovative technologies.

As the internet evolved, its decentralized nature devolved. The norm became free services where users accessed the internet to search, chat, email, shop, pay their bills, and run their businesses; but behind the scenes and under the hood, the entirety of the world’s data was being stored in centralized servers to be consolidated and sold by corporations. Not only was data continually being stolen by hackers on behalf of governments and criminals, but it was being used to create algorithms describing population-level behaviors that could be sold to advertisers for profit. In effect, the internet became a giant, data harvesting surveillance system where each user contributed data to the controlling entities at the top, which amassed both unprecedented profits and control over the broader social perception.

Something else was also becoming painstakingly clear: data was the most valuable thing on the planet. He who controlled the data, controlled the wealth - and therefore the future of an increasingly global society. The internet was making some people very rich on the backs of humanity’s foregone right to privacy. Data could predict the future—and with the right algorithms—it could not only shape people’s behaviors, but also predict them more accurately than even they themselves were able to. While the corporate giants used well-formulated and unthreatening names, the internet soon became the stuff of dystopian literature, creating passive users that had unwittingly become products in and of themselves.

In the late 1990s, a Microsoft Research engineer with expertise in operating systems saw where the internet was headed. With his own vision of the future, Rong Chen left Microsoft to begin work on an internet infrastructure that would maintain the decentralized roots of the early internet while maintaining the protection normally offered by centralized entities. His plan: to create a “network operating system” - an operating system built not for a device, but for the internet itself. By innovating how the internet moved and stored data, Rong would enable users to communicate directly with one another and store their own data in a decentralized way, all without the need for centralized services and intermediaries.

In 2017, Rong Chen combined his network operating system with blockchain technology to create Elastos: an infrastructure for the internet that enables the complete decentralization, ownership, and security of all data by making data identifiable and thus scarce. For the first time in the internet’s history, not only will digital property rights be availed to every user in the world, but the mechanism for communication will be completely peer to peer, secure, and decentralized. Users will own their own data, store their own data, control how many copies of their own data exist, and monetize their own data, all while keeping it secure. The Elastos SmartWeb will not rely on IP addresses, central servers, or centralized entities. While bitcoin solved the double spending problem for a single digital currency, Elastos will solve the double spending problem for all forms of data and digital assets.

This is the Modern Internet. The Internet of Wealth.