Ars Technica recently published an interview with the Dread Pirate Roberts of “Silk Road 2.0”, and one of the main points DPR 2.0 made at the end of the interview was that this underground marketplace is a small part of an overall revolution in decentralization. I recently wrote about the ideas of decentralized marketplaces and how they could affect eBay and Amazon, but these marketplaces also play a role when it comes to advancing the philosophy behind Silk Road. It’s just a matter of time before this new version of the Silk Road is shutdown, but the holy grail of online marketplaces could be possible with Open Transactions. Silk Road in its current form is like Napster, while a decentralized bazaar on Open Transactions would be like the BitTorrent of online marketplaces.
1000 Silk Roads?
It’s already basically impossible to shutdown the Silk Road for good because there are plenty of underground entrepreneurs who are willing to take its place or transfer it to another server once a government gets a hold of one .onion domain. The new Dread Pirate Roberts explains this much in his/her recent interview:
Can the new Silk Road site be taken down as easily as the previous incarnation?
There is only one person in the world that knows who [my second in command] “Defcon” is—me. So unless the feds have me they can never take down the Road, because as soon as I am missing he knows to just move servers and hit the killswitch on my access. Just think how much the FBI will be squirming in their seats and red-faced again if they could arrest the Dread Pirate Roberts and the Road continues to function in their face.
These central points of failure are currently holding back the advancement of so-called “dark markets” because they can always be shutdown once they gain enough popularity. Turning to a decentralized model will make it impossible to shutdown the marketplace where everyone can sell whatever they want because the backbone of the bazaar will be distributed all over the world. Instead of creating “1000 Silk Roads”, there will be one distributed online bazaar where people can sell whatever they wish. FellowTraveler, the main developer behind Open Transactions, talked about the idea of a distributed bazaar at his recent talk in Miami.
The Technology is Here, Deal with It
Whether or not you agree with the idea of people buying and selling controversial goods and services over the Internet doesn’t really matter because the technology is almost here and it will be, realistically speaking, impossible to stop. Governments will still be able to go after individual vendors when they slip up, but the actual marketplace will always stay open. The same technology that is going to replace eBay is also going to create the possibility of a Silk Road 2.0 that cannot be shutdown by any government.