The Impossible Network


In recent weeks and months, the MaidSafe team have been very quietly progressing something quite amazing.  The dedication and commitment of the team is admirable, but the task is so great that we forget how huge the prospects are. Not only that we also at times forget to talk publicly about it. This will change I am sure, but in this personal blog I do intend to get the message across and try to really explain the potential here, it is quite astounding and can change our world, but it needs better understood, even by early adopters.

The Back Story

We have had several discussion in house recently about the SAFE network or the MaidSafe design. These discussion are surprising, we are thinking about what we are offering, not the vision, not the design and not the roadmap, these don’t change. The issue we have been discussing is one of perception and by extension imagination.

I had better explain this rambling introduction slightly better. As always some historical perspective helps. In 2014 we aligned with the crypto community, with similar drive and goals in many respects, however very different products and this is where the issue happens. We choose to define our goals as decentralising the Internet. Of course all the “it’s already decentralised” arguments aside it was a message we felt folk could follow. “We will do for data what bitcoin is doing for money” (again ignoring the side arguments about wealth, stores and all that jazz) was a mantra we used to drive home our message.

It worked and worked well, but with issues. Being us, we got to work, heads down, bums up designing, coding and testing. Nothing could stop us, we were and are focused on delivery of this “impossible network“. However, as society does, never letting a good message go to waste, the decentralised Internet message gathered pace and simply became overused and no longer differentiated us. Some projects even started calling miners farmers and such like, the confusion was not good for us, but we ignored it, mostly. Recently we have noticed we are actually perceived as another version of several projects. Initially we were compared to tor, BitTorrent, freenet etc. but now it’s any crypto project with storage or some networking. so there was a shift. Decentralised Internet became, use some crypto and (maybe) store data somewhere.

Not disrespecting any project here, this is our project I am thinking about and it’s, just like 2014, being considered just the same as project X, where X now is anything crypto with storage, where previously it was any project that stored stuff, regardless of crypto.  To be fair I have not deeply looked at many of these newer projects past the headlines.

So what’s the problem? Competition is great, it shows we are on the right track, or at least not going it alone. Well there is a problem and it’s our problem. The Decentralised Internet does not describe us any more, well no more than “some computer thing”. We have failed to really explain to people what MaidSafe is and what the SAFE network will be able to achieve. The interesting thing I see here is that decentralised Internet mantra used by projects that have pivoted. This shows how many projects stick this description on their products/goals even when those products change quite dramatically. Therefore it is essential we do not use an overused and frankly abused phrase to describe in a few words what we do.

Ok then what is SAFE?

pexels-photo-210158 (1)

This is the critical point, SAFE at it’s core is an “Autonomous Network“, not a set of federated servers, or owned storage locations, or identifiable nodes, but actually an autonomous network. This means no human intervention, no humans setting prices, no altering configurations to make things work, no tweaking data on disk, no altering rules of the nodes, absolutely no human intervention apart from running a piece of self configuring, self healing software. The network decides prices, rewards and how to protect data,  communications and calculations, not any human!

By the very definition of an autonomous network it must be secured against all known threats, otherwise it would not live long at all and be rendered useless almost immediately. Such threats could be collusion based Sybil attacks (people “buy” other peoples vaults etc.) as well as many DOS attacks (so no leader based consensus) have to be defended against, an example of a couple of difficult problems we had to solve. There are a great many threats and challenges, way too many to mention here. In short this is extremely difficult to achieve and naive implementations that ignore even one of these threats will certainly fail. Many answers are not in current papers, research or literature, Engineers need to just suck that up and get innovating and that’s great.

The network alone must know the user accounts, nobody else should. If you think about this, it’s critical and sounds simple, but some thought experiments will show it’s far from simple, otherwise we have intermediaries and by extension corruption. Unless the user wishes to let folk know then they are truly anonymous. The network masks IP addresses to prevent snooping. The network also balances supply of resources and demand on those resources, via “paying” a human somewhere to run this piece of software.


This autonomous network works in simulations and the wider network is being proven by running and measuring testnets and releases. This means nobody owns SAFE, nobody controls SAFE and nobody can manipulate SAFE, groups cannot collude to successfully game or attack SAFE and SAFE does what SAFE is programmed to do, protect our privacy, security and give us freedom to communicate, think privately, share privately, learn and teach others. SAFE is the network and the network is safe.

So Autonomous network, that is a mouthful and will confuse many people, what do we really mean in simple terms? Well it’s the Impossible Network, that thing that should not exist, the flying car, the self driving truck, the moon landing, it’s just the impossible network, until we make it possible. A network that secures data, communications and calculations for us all, without owners, intermediaries or third parties. Its a living thing, if you like, something we switch on and the world uses. People power the network for people and get paid for it, people read, watch movies, publish information and hopefully innovate, collaborate and further society, without borders, control or fear. That’s worth doing and is worth working very hard to achieve, however it’s complex and is very easily misunderstood. It’s also, unfortunately not easy to release in parts, autonomous means no intervention, it requires a whole working foundation. That is no easy feat, but if it was then none of us would find it interesting to work on, I certainly wouldn’t. If you want to terrify Engineers put them on projects like this, if they have integrity they will be terrified, however if they relish a challenge they will be satisfied in all the pressure and apparently impossible issues that absolutely require to be solved.

What are we doing with SAFE right now?

At this time the testnets are rolling out, Alpha 2 is a few weeks away, or may be launched before I finish this post. This is replicating current Internet based applications. This seemingly strange task is quite essential, but in some ways is difficult to do. We are forcing a very intelligent huge smart contract system to behave like a normal Internet. The reasons though are varied, but mainly allows the application developers to start on a familiar path. Then as we dive deeper the realisation that these apps (although amazing and competing globally without infrastructure costs etc.) are actually only the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. A conundrum akin to Tim Berners Lee using the internet to stick stamps on emails. In our case though it is valuable, but it is 100% a stepping stone to a much wider and probably more useful set of services that developers can create for people.

What lies between now and launch/Beta


There has been quite a bit of work on data chains which is basically a design to allow the network to validate data was stored securely and transactions happened on the real live network and was not introduced. This provides important features that are required for networks to restart and the network to  manage network partitions. Nodes can then republish data as individuals, but backed by  digitally signed proofs etc.  Data chains and disjoint sections allow a lot of features including secure message transport and more. It’s available to read about  in the RFC‘s this blog and more on implementation design of part 1 in the dev forum. We have split this task into 2 parts, Data Chains part 1 secures groups of nodes. This all happens at the routing layer and actually creates an autonomous network, although one with no data. This is Alpha 3. There is a simulation framework built that allows us to test the data chains design, here. Node ageing is also a requirement of this network and those who like to know more can read about that here. The above requires disjoint sections in the network and again that is described here for the avid reader, this particular implementation was a surprisingly mammoth task in itself, but has proven successful..

Then we add the data layer again to reintroduce user run vaults (the software people run to create the network and get paid) in Alpha 4. The data element is much more straightforward after data chains part 1 is in place.

After that it’s a lot of testing and the introduction of test safecoin. This is simply a data type on the network, so already secured. The addition is the networks contract, some will call this a “smart contract”, but the difference is the oracle is in the network and secured in the network.  Safecoin is the mechanism of tokenising the provision of resources by the network. The network measures and rewards good behaviour of nodes by allocating safecoin to such nodes that behave and have proven to have handled user requests properly.

That is the last components in the very long journey, not that they will be completed immediately, it’s many (many) months of work and testing at least. We are in a magnificent position right now though a we do not have any unanswered remaining blockers between us and launch, no huge design issues to face, just some implementation decisions. After launch the focus in the backend will be simplification and formalisation of as much of these innovations as possible.

Consequences of a true autonomous network

This is where, understanding the “Autonomous Network” really matters. The non ownership of the data storage and computation capability is vital for a future where we can actually integrate innovations and allow “ideas to have sex” much more instantly and effectively. Autonomous network(s) also allow people and companies to move from “private owned” silo’s that inevitably get hacked.  A good (probably vital for society) outcome is the invalidating of privacy as a product moving profits to providing great value, without taking control from people. This is much more lucrative, less risky and without the intrusion and fear that customers are feeling increasingly for their children these days, never mind the fines for data theft and costs/upheaval of ransom-ware etc..

Examples of how some existing technology may change (or be fixed)

  • Autonomous transport
    • Collaborating and sharing important information like accidents, road, rail or sea issues, weather etc. who owns the servers the data sits on, what if its manipulated?. Autonomous networks removes the ownership problem and allows true provable (non refutable) sharing of data. They also enforce industry wide rules that are set in code that is also tested industry wide. Autonomous networks also remove or at least vastly reduce reduce manipulation of results as well as preventing theft or false reporting of company data and industry test results (I am looking at you pharma).
  • IOT
    • As many mini compute devices appear we need to be able to share data between them, securely and (again) irrefutably. Importantly here we wish the network to spot and remove bad actors. The early network nodes that we have right now are not incentivised to operate for the benefit of us all. Providing these incentives (safecoin) means that the provision of resources to run IOT devices is rewarded, whether the “owner” benefits from the device capability at all times, or not. This alters the market significantly where devices can help others and not only the current owner. With these devices, security is important, but ensuring valid data is essential. An autonomous network can and should ensure good behaviour of nodes via node managers as described in the language of the network.
  • Home automation tools and assistants (Alexa, Google home et’ al)
    • The market and advances in home automation, including voice and video recondition amazes and also terrifies consumers. This is an area where we all know we do not wish any company knowing all that information about us. However with autonomous networks  entities create their own accounts without intermediaries, (see self authentication, a very important and simple requirement of an autonomous network) and these accounts can be used to communicate with other nodes, importantly with zero requirement to share who the node belongs to.
  • Cyber warfare or server hacking
    • Simply removing the “target” in terms of servers is a significant reduction in the attack vector of cyber warfare or industrial spying and data theft. The market for this level of security is extremely large, but autonomous networks just remove the problem and therefor are the solution. Anything else that has been tried until now is purely a cat and mouse game between black hat hackers and companies.
  • Password thefts
    • As with improving server security by removing the server,  autonomous networks like SAFE remove the requirement to store a password at all, not locally or stored on disks the we remove passwords form the network. Therefor no password theft on the network.

Of course some of these can be considered changing the status quo to a point where the above points seem like new technology. However, that would be new in our Engineering eyes, but consumers would see no difference, although they may feel safer, the end product in terms of features already exists or these improvement would be invisible to them. More importantly consumers of today’s network probably expect some of the above to already be the case, sadly though it is not and will not be without autonomous networks in my opinion.

Examples of new technology that will be possible

I have written this section and deleted it, replacing with more ideas several times now. I think it’s for another post, but readers may wish to read this whole post a few times and the linked documents and come to their own conclusions. No doubt much better ideas than I can provide will be found and the world changing products of tomorrow should be discovered this way. The worlds full of inspiring people and with the right tools and removal of infrastructure costs etc. I believe we can as a society make great use of these types of network for a safer future.

I hope this has proven to be a bit of an insight into SAFE and the potential it has. The exciting thing for me is not replacing the Internet, but removing this crazy ownership of data by large corporations. They should be providing value, not taking our privacy. I also am excited by the networks ability to ignore silly laws like weaken encryption or snoop on your customers. When we use logic to create things of beauty like this, then those silly governance issue become nothing to fear, discuss or think about. We all get on with our lives then, privately securely and we gain the freedom to communicate, collaborate and innovate all as one. Then it will get very exciting to watch the progress that will hopefully benefit every person on the planet, in one way or another.

In future posts I will attempt to break down the technical parts in a bit more detail and in addition will investigate more solid use cases, one by one.

Enthusiastic human :-)

Posted in complex systems, MaidSafe, Personal Opinion, Privacy
58 comments on “The Impossible Network
  1. thewebalyst says:

    Super post David. I’ll be happy to receive those deleted drafts by PM any time 🙂

  2. Will Gallo says:

    Great job Mr Irvine! Keep chugging away!

  3. aranad says:

    I don’t think this really explains how it’s different than other existing and upcoming ideas such as Ethereum or EOS – they also are autonomous networks with the same features you discuss above. If you want to help people understand how you’re different than these I think you should explain that your system has no blockchain or mining (and so is not just another iteration of the world’s most inefficient databases), and that it doesn’t have a scalability bottleneck and so on.

    • David Irvine says:

      Thanks for the feedback, always appreciate.

      I am not sure on this one, perhaps worth a small debate. I feel an autonomous network cannot have human participation or centralised anything (including a blockchain) or any way to monitor nodes including their IP addresses and especially geo location. It also requires the ability to securely store and validate stored data is actually network agreed. Then there is the login, self authentication we call it, where people create accounts without any intermediary. There are additional points, such as scale via levels of relationship (as per natural systems, like humans) etc. must be core to such network. I think this latter part is what you are saying may be a differentiator, but I feel there are many.
      Obviously though, I have not made these points as clear as I could and should do in future posts. Maybe going into each area, security, validation, farming and so on would help? I hope anyway.

      • aranad says:

        It’s not that I’m disagreeing, just saying that the things people who are not very familiar with MaidSafe don’t get are not explained here in a way that allows them to really “get it”. I talk about a hypothetical ideal decentralised network to people a lot to describe a concept I’m working on, and one thing I get over and over when describing this ideal is: “but don’t we already have that?”. Or another example I talk about a lot is the importance of true financial privacy, people say “have you heard of bitcoin?”

      • David Irvine says:

        I understand what you mean. I am just not sure these other networks are autonomous without the parts I am talking about, I am not sure they even claim to be. Perhaps what you can do with an autonomous network would help. It for sure not simple. The trigger points are difficult to put across for sure. I will try and think more on this as well.

      • Ambigravity says:

        To maybe better get at what aranad is trying to say: by your (reasonable) definition and considerations, Bitcoin and Etherium don’t count as autonomous networks, and neither do they claim to be. The problem is that terminology and jargon around the concept of decentralization these days is so diluted and misused, and the industry advances so rapidly, that regular users—laypeople, with non-technical backgrounds—still don’t understand the difference between the “encrypted network thing” that is SAFE and the other “encrypted network things” that are Bitcoin and Etherium.

        To put it in different terms, there’s currently no effective, easily grasped metaphor for what SAFE is that doesn’t collide with the metaphors average people use to understand Bitcoin and Etherium. (And even those metaphors are incredibly muddled and far too abstract; this is an area for which human beings have not yet discovered an intuitive model like we have for things like the telephone or the microwave.)

        This isn’t an easy problem to solve, but it’s one that I think very much needs to be. I’m not sure how, exactly, this is best done. Perhaps using the internet as the base metaphor, since that’s a comfortable one to people, and then layering on top: “The SAFE network is simple, snap-on privacy for the internet.”

        That’s just an example, and doesn’t dig down deep enough to reveal the true value beating at the heart of the concept. But if you nail the metaphor (and sub-metaphors), its strength will make SAFE sell itself within the minds of people who learn of it, and that will make spreading it much easier.

    • After playing with Bittorrent and more importantly ZeroNet a little, I can now see that Maidsafe are on to something here. By enforcing quality and performance at the network level I believe their system will outperform others. Close attention to network latency, availability, bandwidth, and sharding level and fail-over replication for large files after a node or two disappears will be the key. I’d love to know what the minimum number of replicas are at any one time. I’m guessing between 3 and 12. And some fancy RAID style redundant copies etc. Perhaps a cryptographic “parity signal” in the compressed stream so that if a 1 GB file is made into 2,000 one gig blocks where if half are lost the file can still be produced using only 1,000 of the blocks, neat idea I heard recently.

  4. Pablo Rei says:

    Saludos desde Ecuador Latinoamérica
    Excelente articulo, va ser extraordinario cuando se lance totalmente el proyecto.
    Muchos éxitos y felicitaciones

  5. Sam_1 says:


  6. Mona says:

    Wonderfully written, I will share with loved ones. Thank you for work, I deeply appreciate it.
    I find myself thinking of life and the future in ‘safe-time’, as in, ah… when safe is live THEN. .. xxxxxx and up rises hundreds of ideas of better and safer ways for us to organise, interact and enjoy each other and ourselfes online. The explosion of truth when there is a safe space for free expression.. wow:)
    Again, thank you and the team, youre my heroes.

  7. Anuj says:

    Awesome blog. MaidSafe (Autonomous Data chain with State of Art design) is silver lining of Decentralized network, which has become Over hype/ boom /bottleneck /hard to scale with bunch of untested(Or building design keeping eye on future) Available one. The fact I like, is they are not releasing any components before Testing. Its is worth wait for revolution to happen.

  8. Rookie says:

    I’m all for an autonomous safe network, especially one with so much promise of true privacy and security. The only concern is this is being developed by people, so there is always room for human error or manipulation, particularly in the development stages. I can’t imagine that a lot of companies and governments would be particularly happy about this development either with its potential overreaching consequences.

  9. I’m all for an autonomous safe network, especially one with the promise of true security and privacy. The only issue is it’s being developed by people, so there is always room for human error or manipulation, particularly in the development stages. I can’t imagine that a lot of major companies and governments would be too happy about this development and it’s over reaching consequences. From their point of view, they have a lot at stake here. What assurances do users have that those working on the project haven’t been approached or manipulated by such organisations?

    • David Irvine says:

      There is no assurance that would work for that case. As far as I know none of us have, but certainly nobody would be able to backdoor SAFE without quite glaring changes AFAIK. The design is such that nodes never call home or send messages to single ip addresses/dns names, we would see that in the code easily, but it would also not be a single line change, it would require a lot of code changes due again to the design. It’s sort of like many many action/reaction parts Engineers call RPC (Remote Procedure Calls) and these would all need changed or the send method would need obviously altered.
      Ofc a smart adversary would try and get a dev to put some much less obvious change in place, however I would hope the team (which is spread across the globe) would spot that in code reviews. Not that this is not a concern, it is, but for now I have not seen any notion. It’s all part of code review and security audits, good thing is this is all open source, which does not mean it can be easily audited, you still need a lot of skill, much beyond a casual observer. This is why through launch we will have security reviews and bug bounties, security payments etc.
      As the project gains traction I imagine universities and the like will also review the code to write papers, critiques etc as well. That all helps.

  10. […] the last post, I discussed “the impossible network“, an autonomous network designed to protect the worlds people and their data.  Before moving […]

  11. Himagain says:

    Thank you, thank you! I am a professional aetiologist of many, many decades. This explanatory piece has resolved a few of my questions/concerns over the immediate future of Money. Capital “M” for the vital concept of faith/trust that this idea made humanly possible beyond simple item-barter, that which we call civilisation.
    Frankly, as I watch the spread of the first ever worldwide “Dutch Tulip” event, I truly fear that the consequences of its inevitable disintegration may be equal to the next Ice Age.
    There wont be anywhere left for me to run.

    It is possible that the proposal outlined so eloquently above, may be a lifeline for our Society, but my concern is that it isn’t exciting enough. More, the type of person/organisation that is making the FakeCoin world possible, will instantly see that this idea hasn’t got any easily seeable exploits to capitalise on.

    It will only take a small thing to occur and the game is over. The piper can’t be paid. There never was all that gold in Fort Knox. That’s what sent Germanica nutz. Look at the damage the Fourth Reich is doing right now.

    Please, someone explain exactly how the game can work in the real world?
    FakeCoin is Monopoly(r) gone mad. Everyone is bringing more and more fake money into this game, so there cannot be a winner. It is a fantasy played out as real. What happens when it’s time to settle up and go home?

  12. NickLambert says:

    Reblogged this on MaidSafe and commented:
    This is a repost of a piece that David wrote on his own blog on the 12th of August 2017.

  13. Geoff Hughes says:

    I, as an end-user, am absolutely no nearer to being able to use maidsafe now than I was three years ago.

    This is never going to happen.

    It’s like the Diaspora social network all over again.

    • David Irvine says:

      You are closer, even as an end user. Alpha 2 will allow you to download and run apps etc. You can already, but it’s not fully launched for sure as a release. It is closer though. Each week we deliver progress reports. Not everything can be fast, as I am sure you are aware. It takes time, but continued dedication will make it happen. So the more good positive thinking actually helps the team. I hope you can do that sometime.

  14. Aditya says:

    Awesome and impressive!

  15. Eexus says:

    I love the MaidSage project but I’m wondering if you guys have taken a lot of thought into the best way to ease the general population into adopting this new network? You touched on this in your post. The key is clear language AND familiarity.

    My background is in branding/marketing (sprinkled with UX) and the only issue I’m seeing currently is how to bridge that gap from taking non-tech savvy users and getting them to switch or transition to the new network. 1.) Its getting them to understand what it is… and 2.) is getting them to use it.

    Like you mentioned in your article, the SAFE network is capable to doing much more than our current centralized internet but the way SAFE currently operates is so loose that it lacks familiarity in certain aspects. By not having a main type of domain (like .com) and the email ID structure with NO “@” or domain reference (… creates a huge mental shift to the general population. There is not enough structure to familiarize ones self to this network.

    If I said “Email me”… and they said what is your email and I say “safetime”… people would be like “What??? What do you mean? Safetime@ what?…. ” Have you thought about sticking with traditional structures like using an “ID+@+domain” just to make the transition easier on new users? They know that when they see “@” it’s an email… When they see “.com” they know its a website.

    Have you also thought of a bridge solution? The most recent ICO Substratum has a very ingenious way to open up adoption of its network by allowing people to use the same browsers and search for sites on both networks using the same domain name structure. What this does is blur the line between both networks… The front-end works and looks the same for normal non-techie users but it is the website/companies itself that change. They retain their “names”… but on the backend they are transitioning over to the new network. They will do this for both economical AND security reasons.

    Eventually all sites will migrate to this new network seamlessly without almost no learning curve to the general population. Once most of the companies are running on this network you would gradually see a change in how websites structure their domain names and emails etc. You’ll see less https:// and more safe:// as new companies start using your network and abandon the old. I think that is the key to mass adoption. It is the illusion of familiarity that drives change not change itself.

  16. […] the last post, I discussed “the impossible network“, an autonomous network designed to protect the worlds people and their data.  Before […]

  17. Ian Wilson says:

    Hi David

    Congratulations on the work you have done with the Impossible Network. Nick wrote in his Power of the crowd 4 article that “The Future is a Community-Led Movement”. As Nick described solving the hijacked internet problem requires an engineering and organizational solution. An Impossible network needs an Impossible Organization!

    To commence such a movement to create the Impossible Organisation we need a Community vision, business model, business & investment case to activate the Community-Led Movement and provide an organised and coherent path to the desired outcomes. Any such vision/model must be holistic and represent the community as a whole, including citizens, regions, SME’s, industry, Education, technology, charitable and government interests. I have heard this described as the 8 open intelligence tribes. More simply “The Impossible Organisation” is a “Design model for International Collaboration.”

    The Global Challenges Foundation has established a Global Challenges prize competition for Design models for international collaboration or a UN 2.0 to address major global risks.

    Following is the Abstract lodged with the Global Challenges Foundation for the Unidata CommunityLink (UCL) Design model international collaboration as a vision for a Community led movement and open ecology design which needs an Impossible network to enable it.

    The Missing Link
    We currently are living in a technological age operating under pre-internet governance structures designed for an industrial system based on infinite use of a finite resource. By definition this is not sustainable.

    Our existing industrial system ecology is characterised by a mechanistic and reductionist worldview, increasing inequity in the allocation of resources and a number of unprecedented global risks. Technology has brought real time global communications, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, virtual & physically interoperability, 3D Printing/localised manufacturing and smart IOT automation with the promise of trillions in efficiency dividends but also the threat of mass job loss, “click to kill” security threats and human obsolescence.

    Baum & Singh “Evolutionary Dynamics of Organisms” describes our technological age and need for a spanning organisation “dominant design” to transition from our “era of ferment” to an era of incremental managed change.

    Without a clear vision and dominant design “recognising all stakeholder nuances to bring them together in a way which achieves each of their needs/motives”… our human evolution and transition to a smart sustainable society is left to “happenstance”. Any such vision/model must be holistic and represent the community as a whole including consumers, regions, SME’s, industry, education, technology, charitable and government interests (8 tribes of open intelligence).

    Where to start?
    Data is the blood that runs through the system and connects us all. Data is fundamental for intelligent local & global decision making and governance. However no structures, standards exist for the interconnection & administration of data at any level. This is the missing link in our post internet transition to a true interconnected global society proactively addressing interlinked risks and climate change, environmental damage, conflict poverty, and population growth problems.

    “Data connectivity” is the core problem to be solved to evolve to a “digital age” UN style 2.0 decision making, governance and communication system to address global risks combined with a practical system for communities to address risks and issues locally.

    More simply, data (and its control) is the mutual self-interest strategic & systemic point of leverage to create a spanning organisation, governance, operating system and social capital model to create a truly representative self-funding global collaboration with inbuilt continuous learning.

    The design
    Unidata CommunityLink (UCL) is a Breakthrough “spanning organizational” model for an open ecology system which is circular, lean and exponentially social. The UCL smart society system vision is a global co-operation amongst a decentralised autonomous network of smart communities (enabled by a commercially neutral, open data infrastructure) working together to support locally based sustainable value creation and its equitable distribution via a new social contract.

    The CommunityLink model uses a Limited Partnership (LP) structure similar to Global Legal and Accounting firms operating decentralised autonomous networks managed by local partners. Established and deployed by a Unidroit style (global legal unification) “Unidata Governance Foundation” the system enables approved Consumer, Industry, Regional, R & D, Charitable Government “Access” partners to establish their own smart data hub/exchange to act as the Investment manager of their own information, data and associated revenues within a global co-operative.

    Access Partners manage their localised data ownership, security, risk and smart community transition. This enables inter community data sharing and closed loop automation within a decentralised autonomous network to support pre-defined “smart community, industry or consumer solutions”. A new social contract (Mutual reciprocal PACT) ensures that significant $$ & efficiency benefits (e.g. trillions predicted by the IOT industry) are returned equitably & systemically (smart contract algorithm) to all community stakeholders.

    The General Partners of Access LP’s are Not for Profit entities such as Associations who recognise that an Access Limited Partnership which enables member access an open ecology as simply a natural extension of their current mandate to represent member interests.

    The design incorporates a Social Capital Investment Bank of funds from systemic community margins to internally fund the collaboration. It starts by harnessing and leveraging the global smart city and industry revolution underway creating the potential for a strategic leap for the “whole” not the few.

    In short it enables existing players to partner and build the new Unidata collaboration system at the centre of the old without disturbing their existing operating vehicle.

    The Institutions/decision paths/control mechanisms
    Operating within existing national boundaries “Access” LP’s for the 8 tribes establish a National Data Administrator (NDA) entity as General Partner with themselves as LP’s of a national Partnership. Specific “Access” Board Advisory committees secure ongoing Access user operational requirements.

    Similarly the Unidata Foundation is the General Partner of a global co-operative partnership and general assembly of national based Access partners. Representative Global “Access” Advisory Councils support the Governing Council and Secretariat ensuring system design, governance and operational implementation meets member needs, for example

    – Consumer Access digital voting capability for a “global citizens assembly
    – Regional Access leverage of existing global Council of Mayors and smart city programs
    – Industry Access open data supply chains protecting against privatisation of industry supply chains and strengthening industry governance

    Using a proven commercial structure to meet the need for a “commercial and legal framework to support the digital representation of the real world” enables us to create a true global partnership of trusted communities and evolve the legal documentation to a dynamic global constitution or “CommunityLink Trust”.

    How key individuals and other decision-making bodies are to be appointed.
    Implementation commences with the Unidata “genesis Council”. The initial individual peer genetic makeup incorporates the Founding organisational and engineering team, key values aligned global individuals with the greatest IP, Investment and operational contribution and AU based operational Access individuals representing each of the 8 tribes.

    This enables Access representatives to i. recreate and customise their Access Councils to deploy via the AU Phase 1 smart community peer to peer network business case with Unidata governance and Unidata reuse of generic Access templates in member countries globally.

    The Unidata CommunityLink design model provides the path of least resistance, business and investment case for our evolution to a new international cooperation and governance system.

  18. Aiki Jissen says:

    Hi David, Excellent write-up! Many thanks for the insights.

    David writes – “I am not sure on this one, perhaps worth a small debate. I feel an autonomous network cannot have human participation or centralised anything (including a blockchain) or any way to monitor nodes including their IP addresses and especially geo location. It also requires the ability to securely store and validate stored data is actually network agreed. Then there is the login, self authentication we call it, where people create accounts without any intermediary. There are additional points, such as scale via levels of relationship (as per natural systems, like humans) etc. must be core to such network. I think this latter part is what you are saying may be a differentiator, but I feel there are many.”

    IN RESPONSE TO AND AGREEING WITH David Irvine: Comment/Question:

    Still yet, after avidly following MAID/SAFE discussions for the last 3 years, I still can’t block diagram how (if at all) we (my company and services) can run our services on SAFE without (a) a massive re-write; and (b) significantly redoing our legal contracts and services architecture. The transition to SAFE seems relatively straightforward for single app developers, especially those starting from scratch or green fields, but not at all clear to current larger network service providers (tens of thousands of users using a set of commercial, not public, services) wishing to, at least, first, decentralize and secure their data and communications.

    Our users use smartphones, browsers and a mix of desktops to access applications and services (such as our technical help communities) either on their device or in the cloud.

    Conceptually what attracts us to MAID/SAFE is properly decentralizing and securing all data and communications with data for, separately (from our level of view of use) user-, community, and service-owned data.

    User data is user-owned but logins to our services are services-owned (administered, authorized [various], authenticated [different] et al.);

    Community (shared) data is just that, necessarily shared and administered for a community of users within the service, such as tech help, by a set of administrators. Service-owned data and systems utilities – like providing special apps, more storage or compute cycles (like a private AWS, e.g. our render farm service associated with animation and advertising) are just that: service-owned but dynamically made available to authenticated (logged in) users.

    Can I move and run the above on MAID/SAFE ? , say, via APIs, by replacing all my data and comms (IP stack), with MAID/SAFE WITHOUT! having to fundamentally rewrite my applications/services logic and philosophy (Not going to happen), though, obviously, a rethinking of opportunities and practices is involved??

    If I can, without asking for or getting technical, what broadly-speaking would be the approach of a service provider with tens of thousands of users to moving their service onto a MAID/SAFE infrastructure for decentralizing and securing its data and communications (especially in light of the increasing frequency of large data breaches (e.g. Equifax, NHS, et al)? And can you or MAID/SAFE generically block-diagram the simplest view of that?

    If so, THAT would be exciting beyond words! – and within the thinking and ‘logics’ of commercial budgets. Looking forward to your response.

    Many thanks,
    Aiki Jissen

    • David Irvine says:

      In short yes you can. There is an enterprise capability with “managed authentication” whereby enterprises will control access to their own “network” on SAFE. It will require a license though, but yes it is absolutely possible and will help make enterprises immune to data theft and password mistakes etc.

      After SAFE is launched proper this will be available, but in the meantime check for managed authentication to allow this scenario.

      • TurkeyMan says:

        Can you explain, even roughly, how a paid/licenses enterprise feature can practically exist in an autonomous network? Who’s providing said service (and getting paid)? And if that entity can provide such a service and get paid for it, why can’t anyone provide exactly the same thing? It sounds like a hard-coded service provision feature written into the network.

      • David Irvine says:

        Like any system, say the Internet. You just create a service and ask folk to pay for it, like the Internet others could create the same thing so you have to be better than them or perhaps offer something they cannot copy. That is form the client side code really, so however you build your application will define how you charge and if folk will pay.

        I hope that answers your question.

      • TurkeyMan says:

        Not quite… it sounded from above like Maidsafe intends to sell an enterprise capability of “managed authentication” to licensed users… which is fine, but I can’t imagine how it’s technically possible, and not something that anyone can easily copy and sell themselves? How are you able to reserve that right to produce that service for yourselves?

      • David Irvine says:

        Not sure why I cannot reply to the correct point here in wordpress.

        In any case, to your question 🙂

        I had not looked at the earlier response about managed auth. that is not an autonomous network like SAFE. Managed auth is the ability to have a managed distributed/decentralised network you own. so as corporates etc. there would not be self auth where the deal is with a person and the network alone. With managed auth the owner would allow/deny access.

        So managed auth is not SAFE and will not work on SAFE, it’s a private managed version of SAFE.

        I hope that clears it up, sorry for the confusion.

  19. aaron says:

    Is maidsafe vulnerable to routing hijacks / bgp attacks ?

    • David Irvine says:

      Any atta, I cannot answer, but the messages are encrypted from message 1, no DH required and no other IKE is necessary (in the traditional sense anyway). There Is initial trust in bootstrap keys (from us or from your friends).

  20. aaron says:

    every data is encrypted and goes to other computers who dedicated free space for this..but what if one of those dedicated computers is not working anymore,will some of the chunks that stored on that computer is lost forever? (which means the data is lost forever?)

    • David Irvine says:

      Data is replicated across multiple peers and those peers are managed by groups of their peers. So the network continually is checking that the data has X copies, X at the moment is 8 but will likely be 4 on launch.

  21. Manu says:

    Can you explain, even roughly, how a paid/licenses enterprise feature can practically exist in an autonomous network? Who’s providing said service (and getting paid)? And if that entity can provide such a service and get paid for it, why can’t anyone provide exactly the same thing? It sounds like a hard-coded service provision feature written into the network.

  22. David says:

    This network is looking to me to be a bit like Tor but instead of people hosting .onion sites themselves the sites are held on decentralized servers and the coins involved here are more like gas as used on the ETH network. Much of what has been said here is too abstract for developers like myself who would get involved in an effort to stop the censorship that is going on with the tinternet and are not really interested in making cash or the share price of something that has been wrapped up as a token to pay for resources (Which i agree is needed) Not sure I want to replace my browser to use it but maybe a browser extension for Chrome would fit the bill a bit better. Maybe you need someone like me on the dev team. Regards Dave MCSD, Msc

  23. John Galt says:

    If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with *what*?

    Seems to me that an NFS iSCSI RAID volume is the answer to “public” storage.

    Everyone has an IP address and the “internet” is still coupled with IP routers and Ethernet switches no matter how you abstract it, ad nauseum.

    In the event of a nuclear attack or power outage — with local storage that I actually possess, I can still retrieve whatever data I think I need by hooking up my computer systems to a generator or even a group of car batteries and a power inverter.

    Then, I can cut a DVD full of bitcoins and pack my array of HDs or thumbdrives in my backpack, stuff a roll of gold/silver/platinum coins up my tootie, and wander out into the wasteland. LOL.

    • David Irvine says:

      Of course you can, however public and or shared content requires you either trust some people/company to facilitate that. With an autonomous network there is no need for such trust and the network has no requirement to snoop on you but it can scrub your IP address form the IP network past hop 1. So even if everyone had a disk that could hold all the worlds data and the bandwidth to get is then this trusted element is required, unless you have a mechanism to connect securely all the nodes that wish to contribute/share/amend etc. the data.

      • John Galt says:

        To the contrary. I can hang it off the DMZ.

        [[ So even if everyone had a disk that could hold all the worlds data and the bandwidth to get is then this trusted element is required, unless you have a mechanism to connect securely all the nodes that wish to contribute/share/amend etc. the data.]]

        I have it.

  24. David Irvine says:

    Perhaps you are missing the point, if you hang it off a dmz then you are that entity that must be trusted by your users of the shared data.

    • John Galt says:

      Or, maybe, I have something else that works.

    • John Galt says:

      I also just read your essay entitled, “Shortest distance between two points is not always a straight line”

      … where you describe something already known as a Spanning Tree — a problem solved a long time ago by the inventors of the STP, PVST, RSTP, and MSTP protocols. In fact, ‘calculating’ nodes in a PKI hierarchy is also based on spanning trees.

      • David Irvine says:

        Yip and many more examples, like the great circle etc. I am not sure of your point, there are many examples where the shortest dist is not a straight line.

  25. John Galt says:

    [[[ I am not sure of your point, ]]]

    Just set up your own CA and NFS iSCSI RAID volumes.

    Then, the “impossible network” just became “possible.” It costs a hell of a lot less, too.

    It only takes about 30-60 minutes to set up instead of 10 years. Furthermore, it costs less than $100 per TB. You don’t need any bitcoins or blockchains, either.

    • David Irvine says:

      Ah I see, I don’t really agree as you may guess. I think you are missing the trust point completely, however if you think that is possible then you should do it, look at us and others in the space like IOTA IPFS filecoin etc. there is billions of dollars saying people want this. So if you do it there is a market.

      Good luck though, all I want is privacy security and freedom for everyone in the digital world., If your suggestion works then all power to you. I am not being glib, seriously if you think you have it then do it.

      • John Galt says:

        “Trust point” == “trust yourself.” I don’t need to trust anyone else. If you can’t trust yourself, then who can you “trust?”

        I might need to “rent” EXTRA space (cheap-cheap-cheap) only if I think I’m really going to need it and cannot supply that space myself. An example of someone like that might be like CERN at the LHC.

        (A bitcoin currently will buy a dozen 4TB drives if I want them. Add a chassis.)

        I don’t think there are even many Fortune 10 companies that will ever accumulate that much data. Only the psychopathic “googles” of the world who think they can rule the world even try. Governments (which is basically a “gang” of psychopathic people) can be included in that list — e.g. NSA GCHQ etc.

      • David Irvine says:

        “Trust point” == “trust yourself.” does not mean “Trust point” == everyone else trusts you.” This is the missing point. Trust in others is the problem we are solving. There is no need to trust anyone, otherwise we are already there!

      • John Galt says:

        [[[ Trust in others is the problem we are solving. ]]]

        You’re solving the wrong problem.

  26. Lowell T Davis says:


    I appreciate your hard work and dedication. Just stumbled across Safe Network and MaidSafe searching for a solution to a problem I have. My company invest in disruptive crypto/blockcahin type enterprises that have infrastructure altering implications. My question is where, can I find your coin? Are you Safecoin ..SFE? I ask because the logo on Coinmarketcap is different then the one I see plastered on your social media platform as well as on your forums. Also if that is your symbol on coinmarketcap you should have your team member update that info.

    Secondly, adoption she will come. Don’t worry about the bridge between early adopters, beta testers, and everyday users ( I don’t think adoption keeps you up a night) . Keep on your current path, it’s a game changer and you know it.


  27. […] infrastructure for this network and coin is decentralized in the same way as SUB. Maidsafe (Massive Array of Internet Disks, Secure Access for […]

  28. Amar says:

    Nice post

  29. […] ~ The Impossible Network Metaquestions […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Member of The Internet Defense League

Follow Metaquestions on

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,676 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: