In the HBO series Silicon Valley, Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendricks pivots his startup toward the creation of a new, decentralized internet.
The series is a parody, but the concept is real. Before the internet, proprietary networks were fragmented, expensive, and private. The internet changed the world by creating a universal wide area network without any centralized ownership that is shared by all. The internet almost immediately replaced existing public networks and eventually became the most powerful communications infrastructure of all time.
The internet created a decentralized and democratized communications layer that allowed for enormous innovation. However, the applications built on the internet became centralized and monopolized by massive corporations such as Facebook and Google.
These companies own your data and, to some extent, have control over your digital life.
In Silicon Valley, CEO Hendricks attempted to return power to the people by creating a peer-to-peer “new internet” in which data and communications are distributed across all the devices on the network with no central point of control.
In the real world, several technology companies are trying to do the same thing, and blockchain is the critical enabling technology. Elastos is one of these next-generation blockchain projects.
Elastos describes itself as “the internet of the future” or a “blockchain-powered internet.” Similar to Ethereum, Elastos supports the concept of “dApps”—distributed applications. But while dApps on Ethereum run entirely on the blockchain, Elastos dApps run within the Elastos runtime. The runtime can run on a desktop computer, servers, or smartphones. Offloading applications from the blockchain itself results in reducing congestion and a better end-user experience. dApps use the blockchain only for authentication and critical transactions.
Elastos also supports sidechains that further offload processing from the main blockchain. These sidechains can perform computation and data management and integrate with the main blockchain for critical transactions and authentication. Sidechains can be created for specific purposes but, within the core Elastos platform, sidechains provide identity and token services. There is also an Ethereum sidechain that allows Elastos to process dApps written in the Ethereum smart contract language and a similar NEO-compatible sidechain.
One of the challenges for new blockchains is the issue of assembling enough nodes on the network to create a sustainable and secure blockchain. Blockchains with relatively small numbers of computing nodes are vulnerable to “51%” attacks, in which an infiltrator assembles sufficient computing power to overwhelm the network.
Elastos avoids this issue by integrating with the Bitcoin blockchain. The Elastos mainchain is effectively a sidechain to the Bitcoin blockchain, which allows Elastos to provide a highly trusted consensus mechanism regardless of the computing power dedicated to the Elastos mainchain.
The Elastos vision is ambitious, and to succeed, the Elastos foundation must surmount significant engineering challenges while simultaneously nurturing a developer community and a token economy. Furthermore, Elastos is not the only next-
generation blockchain in development—EOS and Hyperledger, in particular, have similar ambitions.
Nevertheless, the Elastos vision is compelling, the implementation is relatively mature in blockchain terms, and it has already established an active community—particularly in Asia, where Elastos seems well-positioned to exploit the Chinese government’s commitment to blockchain development. n