What is Decentralized Technology?

2018-09-21 04:20:00 · 184 views · 5 min read

Decentralized Technology is what Dapp.com is all about. So we thought it was about time that we explained the difference between Centralized and Decentralized Technology,  how do they work, what wrinkles they have, and which one do we possibly think will be implemented in the future.



Centralized and Decentralized, What's the difference?


Centralized Technology is when all the information comes from one server. While Decentralized Technology is when all information is distributed among multiple hubs To better explain the technologies we'll use Centralised and Decentralised Networks as examples, based on our daily interactions on social media accounts or our cloud storage or merely surfing the web.


Centralized Technology

Currently, the most popular internet services use a Centralized Network. For example, when you use Facebook, you are sending requests to the Facebook server, and the requests are processed and executed by the same Facebook server, which then sends back the executed result to you and all other users using Facebook. This happens through a single central node as shown in the diagram above.


Decentralized Technology with a Distributed Core

With a Decentralized Network, every action is processed by many "Admins" nodes interconnected to each other and with other worker or mining nodes. The admins and worker nodes are part of the core network within the Decentralized Network called a Distributed Network. So when you ask for a picture in a Decentralized Network you would be asking the admins nodes to provide the pictures for you and the admins nodes will collect the picture fragments distributed within the Distributed Network from the worker and mining nodes.

It is fundamental to note that a central figure, e.g., Facebook, does not necessarily own these worker or mining nodes: they can be anyone who is willing to be part of the network, you or me. The more nodes there are, the faster and more powerful the network will be.



How to Keep Information Safe in a Distributed Network?

There is a system of checks to make sure that the action is "legal" or "validated" using Consensus Protocols. Every transaction or fragment request between a specific user and the network has to be validated across all nodes in the Distributed Network. Once all the nodes have validated the request and recorded it in their ledgers, the fragment can go through. There needs to be a unanimous validation from all nodes within the Distributed Network. Consensus Protocols ensure that the Distributed Network has a reliable ledger containing all information pertaining to every action ever taken in the network. Which means you can always find out who accessed your information and when. The same process works for Blockchain's Distributed Ledgers.



Centralized Network Problems

With everything being in one place, it is easier to protect. That's why we built fortresses and castles for centuries, to keep everything that is vital in one place where it can be protected. However, keeping everything in the same place makes it an easier target for would-be attackers. The Central node in the Centralized Network essentially acts like a castle keeping everything safe and doing everything that it was programmed to do.

Hackers usually can identify which Centralized Network they want to break into and ultimately steal whatever they want within it once they get inside. Another possibility is that hackers can shut down the center node of the Centralized Network disconnecting everyone. Imagine Facebook shutting down, or Google Docs disappearing. It would be a total nightmare for everyone. This is the ultimate risk that all companies continuously work to prevent.



Too Much Pride Too Much Greed

In the aftermath of a hack, large companies have a lot to lose if they declare that their servers were jeopardized. In 2013 Microsoft was hacked, and extremely sensitive information was compromised. It was covered up as a minor problem, but even the Pentagon and Homeland Security were not informed of the severity of the situation. User safety is continuously at risk or at the mercy of those who own the center node of the Centralized Network.

User Data, as we all know, can be sold to for a decent profit. Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Microsoft, Google, are some of the biggest names providing services on Centralized Networks and earning extra from selling data collected from their user's habitual activities. With a Centralized Network, many expected that companies would abuse their total control over the information they were keeping. The recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal was a confirmation of everyone's fears. Fortunately, the EU approved and enforced the General Data Protection Regulation giving individuals in the EU control over their data, but everything is still in the hands of the abuser, you're just aware of which one.



How About Using a Decentralized Network?


Implementing a Decentralized Network has been problematic. A report from McAfee on Blockchain Security from 2017 uncovered the key obstacles. The main issues lie with the end-user security and the implementation of the network. The Decentralized Network at its core is therefore well protected, with its Distributed Network and its Consensus Protocols. However, it forces hackers to intercept an action before or after it reaches the Distributed Network. In the off chance that hackers do break into the Distributed ledger it'll be complicated to collect the data as all nodes from the worker to the admins nodes, contain only a fragment of the whole data. Hackers would have to systematically hack each node until they retrieve all the fragments that complete the data they are seeking. Such an undertaking would require a gargantuan amount of processing power and time.



More Energy Needed


Then comes the Achilles heel, the more users there are, the greater the amount of energy needed. When opening a page on a web browser, it's very common to load the page and go about your business. If you are using Decentralised Networks, you'll need an incredible amount of electricity and processing power to provide users such a smooth experience on a very busy site. Thus if too many requests are sent to the Decentralized Network, the request can fail, causing the user to try again and again until the action has successfully been completed, just like during the Cryptokitties craze in 2017.


A Decentralized Network is Forever


A positive feature is that, without a central authority and everything shared between multiple nodes and entities, it is almost impossible to interrupt a service running on such a network or remove anything for good. Only if every node was removed or agreed to remove its share of the data, would the service be interrupted, and its contents lost. Such a system means that services on a Decentralized network cannot be censored or removed unless it's unanimously agreed upon.



What Does the Future Hold?


The consensus thus far seems to be that Decentralized Technology could very well be the next step. It is very likely that over time the implementation wrinkles will be ironed out, along with the energy and processing needs. Eventually, the community will be able to use Decentralized Technology safely for all kinds of applications.


Possibly the step after that would be to expand the Distributed Network at the core of the Decentralized Network so that everyone is connected to everything, providing the community with shared processing powers, shared storage space, and shared network hosting for everyone. However, this could all be a creative imagination running wild.


On a side note, the fact that decentralized technology is eternal has led users on the Ethereum Network to declare their eternal love on the blockchain. Diamonds last forever and so do blockchains.


by Alessio Casablanca

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