Internet pioneer Radia Perlman made the case for a centralized infrastructure, during a speech at the International Blockchain Advances Symposium in Singapore on Friday.
Perlman said conventional wisdom posits centralized systems as “bad” and decentralized as “good,” but decentralized entities are inherently problematic in several ways.
“Blockchain as a buzzword started as the technology behind Bitcoin. People were making money on Bitcoin and the more publicity it got, the more start-ups took advantage of the hype to claim that their product had something to do with Blockchain,” Perlman explained. “If you’re hearing so much hype, ultimately you’re guessing right, it must be incredibly important.”
“I think pianos are wonderful, but I wouldn’t use them for public transport. Everything has a purpose,” added the inventor of the spanning-tree protocol (STP).
Perlman said the purpose of the Bitcoin blockchain is to evade governing organizations like countries or banks, and while these systems can sometimes be corrupted, they also have their uses.
“Centralized means only one organization is responsible. This usually means there are multiple servers, so it doesn’t mean a single point of failure. And usually means that data is stored in many places, so your data will not be lost. And especially if your data is stored in a public cloud,” Perlman said.
The author and academic added that other added benefits are that it’s clear who to blame when things go wrong and most apps require ‘adult supervision’, or someone to answer for system problems.
“Now if you’re using bitcoin, I don’t know what you would buy with bitcoin, probably something like a hitman. And if he doesn’t kill, who can you complain to? How do you get your money back So most of the time centralization is exactly what you want,” she continued.
In conversation with The register after his presentation, Perlman said blockchain is more of a marketing term than an actual technology, a fad of the moment in its existing form that might have elements playing out in the future, but in essence isn’t very different from a database and is often more difficult to use.
“I’m amazed to be involved in all of this because most of my thoughts are really anti-blockchain,” Perlman said. The Reg “I don’t think it’s a fundamental technology that you should focus on.”
Perlman’s spanning tree algorithm was published in 1985 and is fundamental to the operation of network bridges, and eventually paved the way for the transformation of modern Ethernet into a protocol capable of handling large clouds.
She is often referred to as the “mother of the internet”, a title she tends to make fun of.
Perlman said The Reg if she hadn’t written the algorithm, someone else would have, although she’s sure it wouldn’t have been done so simply or elegantly because she thinks her superpower lies in simplicity and pragmatism.
So what does the “mother of the Internet” think of the network of networks she helped activate?
“If you had asked me that question 10 years ago, I would have been thrilled to see how miraculously it was transforming society,” she said. The register. “But these days, I think it’s the end of civilization.”
Perlman described the AI algorithms that drive content polarization as one of the main dystopian features of the internet. Worse than that, it allows disgruntled extremists to connect with each other.
“If there are only 50 terrorists in the country, that’s okay, unless they can all be found easily,” Perlman said.
“I can’t see getting out of this anyway,” she said. The register.then added that fixing the internet is now in the next generation.
“Sometimes when I’m giving a talk at a university and talking about all that dark, dark stuff, I smile and say but you’re all students. If I said we solved all the problems in the world, what would you do? So aren’t you grateful to us for giving you such a broken thing? » ®
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