Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Permanent Web 1: History, IPFS, and Ethereum

Nineteen Eighty-Four (Signet Books ed., 1954). Image Source: Flavor Wire.

This blog asks how we can record and write history in the new Millennium, given the volume of information, the ephemeral nature of the World Wide Web (evident in link rot and dead Websites), and the problem that data and authorship can be changed. There is an additional problem of interpretation of data. From my blog's statement of intention:
"This blog is an experiment in writing real-time history, which deals with the impact of digital communications on our understanding of history. There are serious problems emerging in social media, in which opinions are confused with facts, data and sources are available but potentially manipulated, and historical interpretive authority derives from hit counts and technical algorithms determining audience traffic. These problems demand an ongoing and increasingly rigorous reappraisal of historical method and historiography, to take into account the impacts of online behaviour and virtual perception."
As the Internet evolves, a disturbing trend has emerged which confirms the worst predictions of author George Orwell. The impermanent Web, as it now exists, enables manipulations of centralized information which effectively destroy history, common values, societal stability and our whole grasp of reality. With Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell understood that the stability of history, and of our ability to write verified history, depends on - and further shapes - a society's underlying structural organization, its politics, and the degree to which an individual within that system can form autonomous thoughts and emotions. Nineteen Eighty-Four's political horror hinges on a love story and asks whether love can blossom and endure against a pure, anti-historical tyranny, or whether it will be crushed as sexcrime.

Peter Cushing played Winston and Yvonne Mitchell played Julia in the 1953-1954 BBC dramatization of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Watch it here. Image Source: Speaker to Animals.

Orwell promised that the destruction of history, information impermanence and propaganda manipulation rely on and reinforce two conditions: first, psychological authoritarianism, a precondition for real world totalitarianism; and second, the centralization of information. Orwell's protagonist, Winston Smith, addresses his secret diary to any reader who is free from the past or future: "To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone."

If there is no correction in the current state of affairs, our impermanent Web threatens to become aggressively anti-historical and ensure frightening Orwellian outcomes. This is why open source coders, hackers and independent designers are trying to think about the Web in a new way. They want to redevelop it to create two results: first, they want to build a permanent Web, where all files and information are perpetually recorded, maintained, encrypted, public, and protected; second, they want to decentralize, and then distribute, big data power. That would allow future generations to question any information presented as historical facts. With a permanent, decentralized Web, anyone in the future will be able to check the archived data for themselves, no matter who they are, and no matter where they are.

This new possibility is appearing in the cryptocurrency and peer-to-peer technology spheres, through mergers of cryptocurrency technology with a collaborative information protocol called Interplanetary File System, also known by its acronym IPFS. (IPFS is not to be confused with Google's Interplanetary Internet Protocols, which are being designed at NASA for Mars colonization; I first blogged about InterPlaNet in 2011, here.)

I want to thank Chris Ellis for bringing IPFS to my attention. Ellis is a great, original thinker in the Bitcoin industry and founder of ProTip and the Fullnode Project. His technical and philosophical meditations on the combination of a new Web network protocol with cryptocurrencies enabled me to think of their broader implications in historical terms. You can see my 2014 interview with Ellis here; my earlier discussion on Bitcoin crowdfunding of creative and intellectual projects with Protip is here.

After talking to Ellis, I wondered if a distributed, permanent historic archive heralds as big a shift as did the historic separation of church and state. Over the past decade, the Internet has shaken nation-states to their foundations. There are many examples of mass protests sparked by social media, notably in 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt (see related posts here and here). Anti-corruption activists such as Alexey Navalny test the weak spots in the authority and apparatus of the Russian state with live online broadcasts to a global community of real-time witnesses. For a recent example, see Navalny's crowdfunding campaign to develop live camera feeds at intersections and prevent roadside police intimidation, here. Global communications naturally erode nation-state divisions.

However, we have entered a new stage in this trend. It is fascinating to consider that the manner in which information is organized and communicated determines its durability, and its political and governmental impact, over time. Our current Web is impermanent and builds addresses associated with nation-states or centralized organizations. IPFS builds cryptographic addresses associated with the information at the address. It is 'content-addressed,' not nationally-, corporately- or institutionally-addressed. That change builds a distributed information network, which might decouple the nation from the state, and remake states into entities with no geopolitical identities. The alternative is 'techno-community-states' of various types.

Images Source: Altcoin Today.

For an example, see the Twitter hashtag #BlockchainsNotBorders, dominated by the project, BitNation: "Welcome to Governance 2.0: Borderless Decentralized Voluntary." On 19 February 2016, BitNation released the world’s first 'virtual nation' constitution on top of the blockchain of the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Altcoin Today sampled the anarcho-capitalist libertarian rhetoric associated with this project's separation of nation and state:
By using borderless technology in the form of smart contracts, BitNation wants to remove geographical apartheid of individual nation states. Doing so will lead to governance services that are more transparent, cheaper, and overall better for the end user.

The concept of do-it-yourself governance may seem strange to some people, but the BitNation team is very confident in what they are trying to accomplish. While there is still a lot of work to be done before DIY governance becomes a mainstream trend, the team is currently focusing on security and dispute resolution. Ethereum smart contracts will play a big role in his department, according to BitNation founder Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof.

What makes these Ethereum smart contracts useful is how they bring a new layer of decentralization to the world. Unlike most services being used today, such as social media and email, BitNation’s governance 2.0 will not involve central authorities or governments. Needless to say, this model of governance is completely different to the centralized system of representative democracy most of the Western world is accustomed to.

Tempelhof feels that democracy is a massive failure, and the concept is – according to her – fundamentally flawed. Democracy as most people know it means governments give residents a variety of choices to vote on, without them having a say in the matter of what choices are offered. BitNation wants to change this by introducing democratic autonomous organizations (DAOs).

This concept needs some further explaining, however, as these Democratic Autonomous Organizations exist entirely on the Ethereum blockchain. From a governance point of view, decisions will be made by a group of parties who can decide on contracting people to do work, distributing assets, and even appointing shares. Two significant examples of a DAO can be found in Slock.it and DigixDAO. ... Tempelhof explained it as follows:
‘Decentralized’ means there is no single point of failure, like there is no central bank. If you look at Uber for example, they have got into trouble in Europe, they have been banned in France – but if Uber had been a DAO there would have been no bank accounts to freeze, nothing for regulators to ban. Decentralized also means personal autonomy. We decide what we do. Nobody tells us. And being borderless means that we are not confined by a passport to live in an area of war or famine. That’s as wrong as judging people on the color of their skin or sexual preference.
Another 'Governance 2.0' report from last year was entitled, Bitnation, Horizon and Blocknet join forces to deliver the world’s first platform for do-it-yourself governance services to 2.5 billion people across developing markets, using Bitcoin 2.0 technology (13 March 2015):
Bitnation, which is known mostly for its groundbreaking pilots including organizing the world’s first Blockchain Marriage and the world’s first World Citizenship ID on the blockchain, which has drawn attention from, amongst others, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, TechCrunch, Wired, and The New York Times. Bitnation aims to provide governance services in frontier and emerging markets, where it is needed the most. There are 2.5 billion unbanked in the world, the “System D” economy – the grey, unregulated markets – is a 10 trillion dollar economy, and 80% of the world’s population currently live in developing markets. Bitnation’s Founder and CEO, Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof, worked for 7 years in challenging frontier environments, like Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and other countries, primarily with assessing people’s perception and experience of governance.
After the BitNation announcement that you can 'Create Your Own Nation in 140 Lines of Code,' performed in an online live event from an Irish pub in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 15 February 2016, one could step back and consider Orwell again.

Nineteen Eighty-Four asked how the individual's heart and soul could survive inside a totalitarian state. Orwell also pondered how information systems helped to construct, and were thereby reflected in, the governmental structure employed by political authority. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the two questions are intimately related. It is through systems of emotions, morality, thought and communications that we bind mentalities to power. This is why where once religion dominated the God-sourced monarchical state, the disciplines of history, philosophy and politics replaced religion in the era of the secular nation-state.

Of those three modern disciplines, aspiring technocrats have fixated on politics to develop their visions of  'techno-community-states.' But when history and philosophy are absent or only superficially considered, politics fares poorly in shotgun weddings with technology. We need all three disciplines together, and the help of other fields, to understand how tech-communities might be defined and connected to statehood, if at all. Chris Ellis, in conversation, preferred not to label the new permanent Web politically. His priority is to put "the technology into people's hands so that they get to have a say. Everyone gets their own narrative now. [And] it will be irrefutable that someone said [what they said]." He believes that it is better to allow time to tell whose narrative ends up being correct, rather than forcing older political theories onto the current evolution of the technosphere and its unprecedented circumstances and possibilities.

That is only partly true, because future truths don't spontaneously manifest themselves. There are always present-day conflicts to find a dominant narrative, and future corrections can be very difficult. Future historians will be actors who will help to decide which narrative ends up being 'correct' - in the sense of being the closest reflection of our Millennial reality, while also being relevant to future considerations - and for how long. But what is at least promised now, is that there actually will be future historians to make those analyses, as opposed to Winston Smiths, working in the Records Department of a future Ministry of Information. These are the overarching questions to the technical overview that follows; those questions will be explored in subsequent posts in this series on the Permanent Web.

The explanation on Ethereum starts at 2:25; the discussion on IPFS starts at 4:26; from The Daily Decrypt interview with Ethereum Director of Integration Taylor Gerring (26 January 2016). Gerring emphasized that Ethereum allows users to develop applications which sit on the cryptocurrency's blockchain. Video Source: Youtube.

In the January 2016 video above, The Daily Decrypt interviewed Ethereum cryptocurrency dev Taylor Gerring to explain what Ethereum is and how it might be combined with IPFS to build and incentivize a permanent Web. All data on IPFS are perpetually recorded online by means of peer-to-peer network distribution; and every single subsequent change to a given file is also permanently recorded by means of the amended file acquiring a new encrypted addresses, which can be indexed by a blockchain. This IPFS combination with cryptocurrency technology would establish a standing historical archive of online information. The encrypted addresses for any piece of information would ensure that that information could not be manipulated without the manipulation being noted in another encrypted process. Proponents in the open source coding community claim that this combination will build a new Web to function as the Web should have, from the start.

Singularity Weblog interview with Russian-Canadian Ethereum founder and lead dev, Vitalik Buterin (5 June 2014). Buterin explained how Ethereum's architecture and applications differ from Bitcoin's capabilities. Video Source: Youtube.

The language and rules which computers use to talk to each other and to servers to form the World Wide Web determine the architecture of the Web. At present, that architecture is mainly centralized and therefore inefficient; it breaks down and is impermanent. To build Web permanence, coders must use protocols which transform the organizational architecture of the Web. They must move from a centralized, to a decentralized, to a distributed arrangement of the Web's structure.

IPFS designer Juan Benet argues that the Web's familiar hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) uses addresses which are location-specific and which centralize information sources and authorities. By contrast, IPFS uses a content addressing system to create a decentralized, and eventually distributed, operational architecture. Image Source: IPFS.

Image Source: Maidsafe (hat tip: Chris Ellis).

In the real world, constitutional, legal, administrative, regulatory and managerial structures of states and corporations create background frameworks for centralized organization; these are skeletons which provide the formative contexts for different political and socio-economic paradigms. So on the Internet, the architecture of the Web, established by its operational protocols, creates innate power structures, virtual communal dynamics and psycho-social situations for its users. Decentralizing and distributed peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent (2001) and Bitcoin (2009) offer alternatives to centralizing protocols and to electricity-hungry data centres.

An elementary decentralized file-sharing network in BitTorrent: "The middle computer is acting as a seed to provide a file to the other computers which act as peers." The peers make a copy of the original file so that if the original version (or a copy) is destroyed or corrupted, other peers still maintain the file. Image Source: Scott MartinWiki.

The contrast between real-world-sourced centralization and virtual-open-sourced decentralization was evident in banking experiments with Ethereum. In January 2016, Ethereum gained press attention and a pump in value, possibly alleviating the crypto's financial woes when the central banking consortium R3 CEV began to work with a fork off Ethereum's blockchain. This poses interesting questions, since the banks are centralizing entities and Ethereum enables distributed applications, especially distributed ledgers and smart contracts; those applications greatly expand the capabilities of a distributed virtual system. From Finance Magnates, 20 January 2016:
R3 CEV has announced today the completion of a distributed ledger experiment involving eleven of the world’s biggest banks, including Barclays, BMO Financial Group, Credit Suisse, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, HSBC, Natixis, Royal Bank of Scotland, TD Bank, UBS, UniCredit and Wells Fargo.

The banks were connected on an R3-managed private peer-to-peer distributed ledger, underpinned by Ethereum technology and hosted on a virtual private network in Microsoft Azure, the public cloud platform offering Blockchain as a Service (BaaS). They simulated exchanging value, represented by tokenized assets on the distributed ledger without the need for a centralized third party.

The consortium says this collaborative experiment is the first in a series of projects, using a range of candidate distributed ledger technologies, and is designed to prove the suitability of distributed ledgers for financial markets use cases. R3 will be announcing a series of additional projects borne out of its collaborative lab workshops over the course of 2016.

David Rutter, CEO of R3, commented: “The transition from vision and hypothesis to application and execution signifies the next major step towards using this technology to transform how institutions interact, report and trade with each other in financial markets. This is a very exciting development, both for R3 and our member banks, as well as the global financial services industry as a whole.”

Several of the banks involved also commented on the experiment: “As we progress our evaluations of shared ledgers and smart contracts, we look forward to leveraging R3’s lab environment for collaborative technology experiments,” said Brad Novak, Chief Technology Officer for the Investment Bank at Barclays. “Ethereum is a well-known open source technology in this space and we also look forward to collaborative experiments using other technologies.”
International Business Times reported on 25 January 2016 that the banking consortium's use of Ethereum was purely experimental and that they were also considering using Bitcoin:
Banks are now officially collaborating on connected distributed ledgers, something of a milestone in the blockchain narrative. But how are they actually going to use computational blockchains that can operate that well-known term of art - "smart contracts"?

Dr Gideon Greenspan, founder of Coin Sciences and MultiChain, has a specific thesis about how an enterprise blockchain will look. It's a model based on a shared database design that can squeeze in as many desirable features without sacrificing performance and scalability. Greenspan is plotting a course, therefore, between a transaction constraint model (Bitcoin) which enables much greater concurrency and parallelism, and a smart contract or enforced stored procedure model (Ethereum), which can execute general purpose programs on a blockchain.

Regarding the recent R3 CEV announcement involving 11 of its member banks, Greenspan told IBTimes: "The R3 announcement is about a temporary experimental blockchain that was set up between some banks. From what I can see, it wasn't technically interesting but more of an organisational proof of concept, to show that they could get that many banks to work together on a single shared ledger.

"As the announcement says, the use of Ethereum was fairly incidental, and I think in the long run R3 will conclude (as we have) that for applications focused on asset transfer and exchange, a bitcoin-style architecture (in which assets sit inside transaction outputs that are directly spent) will perform better than an Ethereum-style architecture (in which assets are only moved by general-purpose code)."
These experiments highlighted Ethereum's potential for wide-ranging applications well beyond financial uses. This crypto was intended to build a new kind of Internet, which is why Ethereum has a lot of suitors. For the curious, the Ethereum wallet is here; the Ethereum explainer and all starter links are hereCryptoCompare summarizes Ethereum's original memorandum:
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference. In the Ethereum protocol and blockchain there is a price for each operation. The general idea is, in order to have things transferred or executed by the Ethereum network, you have to consume or burn [Ethereum] Gas.

If you want to earn block rewards from the Ethereum network, you can join the network as a miner. Follow the link for a guide on how to mine Ethereum on a Windows Pc. The much easier but a bit more expensive way is to buy an Ethereum mining contract.

Ethereum is how the Internet was supposed to work. As long as you have enough funds to pay for your code to be run by the network, your contacts will always be up and running. Ethereum was crowdfunded during August 2014. ...

Ethereum is a platform that is intended to allow people to easily write decentralized applications (Đapps) using blockchain technology. A decentralized application is an application which serves some specific purpose to its users, but which has the important property that the application itself does not depend on any specific party existing. Rather than serving as a front-end for selling or providing a specific party's services, a Đapp is a tool for people and organizations on different sides of an interaction use to come together without any centralized intermediary.

Contracts generally serve four purposes:

- Maintain a data store representing something which is useful to either other contracts or to the outside world; one example of this is a contract that simulates a currency, and another is a contract that records membership in a particular organization.

- Serve as a sort of externally owned account with a more complicated access policy; this is called a "forwarding contract" and typically involves simply resending incoming messages to some desired destination only if certain conditions are met; for example, one can have a forwarding contract that waits until two out of a given three private keys have confirmed a particular message before resending it (ie. multisig). More complex forwarding contracts have different conditions based on the nature of the message sent; the simplest use case for this functionality is a withdrawal limit that is overrideable via some more complicated access procedure

- Manage an ongoing contract or relationship between multiple users. Examples of this include a financial contract, an escrow with some particular set of mediators, or some kind of insurance. One can also have an open contract that one party leaves open for any other party to engage with at any time; one example of this is a contract that automatically pays a bounty to whoever submits a valid solution to some mathematical problem, or proves that it is providing some computational resource.

- Provide functions to other contracts; essentially serving as a software library.

Contracts interact with each other through an activity that is alternately called either "calling" or "sending messages". A "message" is an object containing some quantity of ether (a special internal currency used in Ethereum with the primary purpose of paying transaction fees), a byte-array of data of any size, the addresses of a sender and a recipient. When a contract receives a message it has the option of returning some data, which the original sender of the message can then immediately use. In this way, sending a message is exactly like calling a function.
The banks' interest in cryptocurrencies, also discussed in this post, reveal an emergent contradiction between the real world and online innovation. As the banking consortium tests decentralized tools, their first question is: 'Can this decentralized technology be centralized and regulated?' They ask this question because for them, the alternative is unthinkable. To give a distributed technology free rein would completely change the way banking is done. It would transform our whole relationship with money, and everything that follows from that relationship.

There are additional tensions between centralizing and decentralizing technological tools and powers. Tech giants may ask: 'Can decentralized or distributed technology serve the needs of the current Web, where companies and governments are also centralizing around big data?' The Facebooks, the Googles, the Amazons are becoming medieval fiefdoms, power conglomerates with neo-colonial aspirations. The growth of Silicon Valley giants resembles nation-state evolution in the early modern and modern periods. Most cryptocurrency developers would prefer that peer-to-peer technology retains its distributed character. The way to incentivize and maintain a permanent Web, based on a decentralizing capability, is their present challenge.

BattlemeshV8 presentation on IPFS (BattlemeshV8, Maribor, Slovenia 3-9 August 2015; uploaded 26 December 2015). IPFS founder Juan Benet reviewed the peer-to-peer file-sharing technologies which inspired the coding in IPFS: "IPFS ... combines good ideas from Git, BitTorrent, Kademlia, SFS, and the Web. It is like a single BitTorrent swarm, exchanging Git objects. IPFS provides an interface as simple as the HTTP web, but with permanence built in." Video Source: Youtube.

IPFS was designed as the solution for distributed Web permanence. It was released in September 2015 by Juan Benet and billed as a "new peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol." IPFS aims to do away with hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) and other application protocols for collaborative information systems. Hypertext transfer protocol is 'brittle,' meaning that dynamic links break when hosts stop maintaining a page of content, creating dead links and 404 pages. To deal with this impermanence, the non-profit Internet Archive has since 1996 attempted to archive all HTTP Webpages. The Archive's administrators are finding that their task is becoming impossible. On 11 February 2015, they called for a new permanent Web; and they observed that Web permanence required a different protocol with a distributed, rather than a centralized, working architecture. Permanently archived online information depends on the decentralization, and ultimately, the distribution of data.

The IPFS open sourced Github code site and its main site explain how IPFS differs from earlier protocols by establishing Web permanence in a distributed manner similar to a BitTorrent swarm:
"IPFS fundamentally changes the way we look for things, and this is [its] key feature. With HTTP, you search for locations. With IPFS, you search for content. Let me show you an example. This is a file on a server I run:
Your browser first finds the location (IP address) of the server, then asks my server for the file using the path name. With that design, only the owner (me) can determine that this is the file you're looking for, and you are forced to trust that I don't change it on you by moving the file, or shutting the server down.

Instead of looking for a centrally-controlled location and asking it what it thinks /img/neocitieslogo.svg is, what if we instead asked a distributed network of millions of computers not for the name of a file, but for the content that is supposed to be in the file?

This is precisely what IPFS does."

IPFS founder Juan Benet discusses the background of the impermanent Web, book burnings, censorship, and the need for a permanent Web (20 February 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

The above video inspired criticisms and questions on how those already fully invested in the current, centralized Web would respond to the establishment of an alternative, permanent Web:
  • "The problem is that devs don't want to code themselves out of a job. IPL needs abolishment before sweeping technical reforms like this are going to be possible to implement. Please for the love of all that is holy, prove me wrong and do it. I am a blogger. I agree with you. How do I transition to this system? Clearly it's not going to be just a wordpress plugin I install right? You're wanting to address something further up the food chain. But the further you go the more money there is being made by how things are. How many cash cow patents will this technology devalue? I just don't see it happening any time soon unless it's something that can be for lack of a better word downloaded by end users."
  • "why not start using distributed caches? Caching is a fundamental part of the "old school" Web (HTTP) and attacks exactly this problem and it's there for more than 20 yrs now - half of HTTP's architectural style (REST) is designed to make efficient cache proxies possible... I think it would be easier to leverage this than rebuilding the web"
  • "It is in Facebook's best interest to keep you in their datacenters. It is in any cloud service provider's interest to keep you in their datacenters. It is in the interest of the U.S. government to have you always go to a single connection point where they can easily monitor you. While IPFS has the best of intentions, it does not solve the issue of motivation."
  • "While I find this a great idea, I believe it should be possible to permanently delete content. I think of revenge porn, child porn, cyber mobbing, etc. Sure even without IPFS, people can reupload stuff somewhere else. But 90% of users probably won't look that hard."
  • "Why encrypt all the content we want to access to? Why not make it optional? Some millennials just want faster not more private. Youtube videos for example are info that is public already and a digital fingerprint of people watching cats and youtubers isn't too dangerous in anyone's hands imo. + some people just don't care about being traced online. I would personally live in a world with less secrets and have the gov tell me upfront that they track all traffic to spot terrorism or such."

Epicenter Bitcoin interview with Juan Benet on IPFS (12 October 2015). Video Source: Youtube.

In addition to Ethereum, IPFS is collaborating with Neocities, a free Web hosting community, and Namecoin, a "decentralized open source information registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency." As Ethereum dev Taylor Gerring noted, a merger of Ethereum's smart contracts blockchain with the Interplanetary File System network to build a permanent Web is still being evaluated. Some of that evaluation is being done at Eris Industries, where Brian Fabian Crain explains how smart contracts and blockchains would allow content to be maintained - and any manipulations or changes of information to be recorded - on the permanent Web:
"Where do smart contracts and Eris come in? While blockchains are great at providing verifiability and transparent processes, they are unsuited to hosting large amounts of data. When contracts depend on lots of data, that data needs to be referenced from within the contracts. Such data could range from scans of real-world documents, to images, media files or data sets.

IPFS is ideally suited for this. The integrity of files that smart contracts reference is often critical. With IPFS’ content-addressing, the process of automatically verifying files comes out of the box. With a traditional file system, each contract needs to additionally verify the hash of a file that was delivered. IPFS circumnavigates this requirement, which gets rid of possible attacks. Since anyone can host a file, any party that has an economic interest in the contract can simply choose to host all file dependencies. Using HTTP, you have to either trust the service hosting the file or program complicated fall-back procedures in case a file isn’t hosted anymore by the default host or in case the default host delivers the wrong file.

In the enterprise context, enabling any party to host files is often the best option. In addition, third party companies could potentially provide hosting specifically for smart-contract related files and provide guarantees through SLAs.

In the future, Protocol Labs, the company behind IPFS, plans to add an incentive layer to the protocol called Filecoin. With Filecoin, nodes hosting content will be compensated for their work. Thus smart contracts will hold Filecoin balances and pay the network for hosting their dependencies. This is particularly interesting for permissionless chains like Ethereum and when censorship resistance is a high priority."
Ethereum's programs and apps might also allow bridging between the old Web and the IPFS Web. A commenter on the above video wondered how the IPFS combination with Ethereum would work:
"Where the interviewer is asking about how traditional client server applications can live on IPFS, and juan goes on to talk about ethereum as a sort of way to 'agree on a protocol', this isn't really a direct answer to the question, as contracts cannot completely replace interactive negotiation. Smart contracts are not arbitrary interactions, and cannot (completely) replace them.

The most complete and direct answer I can think of though is that ipfs doesn't really do any sort of 'proxying' or anything like that. [It's] distributed up to the point when you actually need to get some resources, and then you get it directly from a peer via an out of band connection, which is at this point i think only IP. But it is not dependent on it being ip.

The network tells you what peers have what objects, and how to connect to a peer directly outside of the network, but the bits and pieces of the files are communicated directly between peers that have them and peers that want them.

For interactive connections, you would similarly use IPFS to resolve an address in some other namespace, and then transition over to a communications medium that uses it. You aren't restricted at all as to what sort of transport layer to use, but both peers have to know how to make sense of it on their own. IPFS doesn't provide an interactive transport layer for you to stack arbitrary interactive protocol on top of. And frankly, I think actually providing this as a part of the IPFS stack would be a bad idea."
These are the current technical discussions on how to combine these different technologies. In upcoming posts in this series, I will discuss the permanent Web, and the Internet as it is and should have been, in relation to several themes, including: decentralized human psychodynamics and moral social experience; whether a decentralized or distributed network architecture actually creates a decentralized or distributed community and governance; Internet personhood and new methods of writing history; and perceptions of reality as shaped by human-machine interaction.

See all my posts on Cryptocurrencies.
See all my posts on the Permanent Web.

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