Last week, it was reported that Google is one of the world’s most active backers of blockchain-backed startups. Since 2012, Google has led 140 equity investments totaling roughly $1.2 billion in the blockchain sector. The question lingers, why hasn’t Google directly built or added blockchain into its search functionality?
Currently, Google has monopolized the search market and now controls nearly 80 percent of desktop and 95 percent of mobile searches. In fact, Google handles over 40,000 search queries every second, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year. The service effectively serves as the “gatekeeper to the digital world,” an extremely influential role that dramatically shapes the direction of our internet-based economy.
Many believe, however, that a role of this significance should not be entrusted to one company. Having a single entity in charge is particularly troublesome because it can operate in an opaque manner.
“The original purpose of the web and internet, if you recall, was to build a common neutral network which everyone can participate in equally for the betterment of humanity,” writes Matthew Hodgson in TechCrunch. “But now we have Skype from Microsoft, Facetime from Apple, and Google with Duo. Each big company has its own equivalent service, each stuck in its own bubble. These services may be great, but they aren’t exactly what we imagined during the dream years when the internet was being built.”
The conglomerates mentioned by Hodgson have taken over the digital world. They control access to our most important information and confidential data. However, Hodgson goes on to say that “there is an emerging movement to bring the web back to this vision and it even involves some of the key figures from the birth of the web. It’s called the Decentralized Web or Web 3.0, and it describes an emerging trend to build services on the internet which do not depend on any single ‘central’ organization to function.”
There are a number of inherent security and efficiency advantages to using a distributed, blockchain-based system to store information that centralized data warehouses cannot compete with.
No longer a piece of science fiction or part of a silly television show, a decentralized internet is inevitably becoming a reality. Emerging blockchain startups are beginning to realize the full potential of a distributed economy, as they build out different components of this new decentralized ecosystem.
Presearch, is developing an open, decentralized search engine that “rewards community members with Presearch Tokens for their usage, contribution to, and promotion of the platform.”
Unlike Google, Presearch’s decentralized search model will utilize “open and transparent ranking factors, which will enable content creators to access a level playing field, and [give] users the choice of which data to utilize.” The service will empower the community (the users) with the ability to partake in voting and funding of development opportunities. A project of this scale promises to dramatically disrupt the market for search.
Startups leveraging the power of the blockchain to build decentralized systems are poised to disrupt other areas as well.
IPFS, short for interplanetary file system, has attracted a significant amount of attention from the fintech community. A recent Wired article says that the idea behind IPFS is to have web browsers store copies of the pages they visit and then do double duty as web servers. That way, if the original server disappears, the people who visited the page can still share it with the world.
Wired writes that, in this model, “publishers get improved resilience, and readers get to support the content they care about. Eventually, the IPFS team and a gaggle of other groups hope to make it possible to build interactive apps along the lines of Facebook that don’t require any centralized servers to run.”
As more consumers and enterprises buy into the decentralized economy, it will be interesting to see which projects gain widespread adoption the fastest. The Google’s of the world are investing significant capital in bringing frontier technologies, like blockchain, to the masses sooner rather than later. Let the race begin.
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