We can use the cloud to collaborate on a business document, or play a game, or run an auction. But it bothered me that “cloud” meant a central server, with all the costs and security issues that implies. It bothered me a lot.
It should be possible for anyone to create a shared world on the internet, and invite as many participants as they want, to collaborate, or buy and sell, or play, or create, or whatever. There shouldn’t be any expensive server. It should be fast and fair and Byzantine. And the rules of the community should be enforced, even if no single individual is trusted by everyone. This should be what the internet looks like. This is my vision for how cyberspace should run. This is what we need.
But no such system existed. Whenever I tried to design such a system, I kept running into roadblocks. It clearly needed to be built on a consensus system that didn’t use much computation, didn’t use much bandwidth, and didn’t use much storage, yet would be completely fair, fast, and cheap.
I would work hard on it for days until I finally convinced myself it was impossible. Then, a few weeks later, it would start nagging at me again, and I’d have to go back to working intensely on it, until I was again convinced it was impossible.
This went on for a long time, until I finally found the answer. If there’s a hashgraph, with gossip about gossip, and virtual voting, then you get fairness and speed and a math proof of Byzantine fault tolerance. When I finally had the complete algorithm and math proof, I then built the software and a company. The entire process was a pretty intense 3 years. But in the end, it turned out to be a system that is very simple. And which seems obvious in retrospect.
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