An idea has been brewing in my head these past few weeks. Probably because I just dived in and went 0 to 60 in P2P software. I had no idea this stuff was so far along already. ZeroNet is fantastic. There's Bitcoin and Namecoin managing transactions. There's Bitmessage for a decentralized email type of thing. Then there's stuff like Tox, Ricochet, Ring and the like for instant messaging. IPFS and similar solutions for decentralized file hosting. And then I find out about cjdns and meshnets.
With all this sitting on the forefront of my mind, decentralized computing was on my mind. However, these thoughts started blending with my other views and interests. Things like anti-consumerism, minimalism, independence, libre software, etc. And the thought popped into my head. Why don't we have an all-in-one cheap PC that makes decentralized computing easy? At the heart could be something like a custom distro of linux with the above software pre-installed, and configured to jump into a new or existing meshnet. The software would run on a cheap pocket computer, like the Raspberry Pi. Or really any computer you could get your hands on. Have the OS/box lack traditional internet support. No central DNS. No centralized IP allocation. It'd be physically and digitally incapable of connecting to the existing internet, except through networking with a computer that is able to do so (though ideally this wouldn't be necessary).
Ultimately, you'd just get a bunch of these little guys and we'd effectively kickstart a new internet that's inherently secure, P2P, has the capability of viewing things while offline, has no restrictions on where you can go online (no need for a wifi), discourages giant corporate websites, lacks ads, has it's own currency, and encourages creativity and independence.
How does that sound? No slow browsers. No tracking cookies. No ads or adblockers. No data leaks or corporate espionage. No government spying on what you do. No ISP monopolies. No ICANN. Everyone's on an open source operating system using open source software. No fiat government funny money.
Though, we're not quite there yet. ZeroNet still needs various tweaks and developments to allow it to be truly P2P. Bitcoin/Namecoin might have issues when going 'off the grid' and having a bunch of localized versions (perhaps something like uCoin is better here?) And there's still the obvious issue of getting everyone to ditch their current line of crap and to divorce themselves from the consumerism/corporate mindset.
Hell. Maybe we can ditch currency altogether. ZeroNet seems to be doing great, and not a single site charges for anything. No one's getting paid here (well, nofish gets donations for his hard work). Though, when merging the P2P digital world with real world work, there's a conflict. I've been trying to think of a way to solve this. What are the core necessities to be self-sufficient? Definitely electricity, so that this P2P magic can run. I did some digging and there's some solar-powered raspberry pi projects. Would that be enough? Can we get pi's to communicate with each other in a mesh, or do we need extra hardware? There's also the issue of needing to keep the lights on. I have no clue if we can manage to self-generate that. Tesla had a home battery thing, would that work?
Water and Food seem to be the two largest problems. Getting everyone to grow their own seems problematic as not everyone would want to, or have the resources, or have the knowhow. And outsourcing this requires funny money, or perhaps bitcoin (which would require connecting to the internet). Both of those are problems. For food, I think getting something like soylent would work well, but I have no idea what the process of producing it is. Or even if we can get that to be sustainable within our P2P society. For water, I have no idea. Rain water? Piggy back off the public drinking fountains? Neither of these sound particularly sustainable or reliable. I'd dehydrate if I had to live off rain water (damn desert, I hate it here). And the public water is nasty, and requires reliance on the state, centralizing something and wrecking the entire idea.
Then there's issues of plumbing (toilets, showers), a place to stay, trash, aaannndd.... I think that's it... If all of those things are taken care of, either through decentralized automated means, or through self-sufficiency, I think we can honestly get rid of currency. At least as a means to live. In terms of actual physical stuff you need, the amount is surprisingly low. Some clothes (you already have those) and some basic toiletries are really it. The only thing that'd be needed and would be an issue, then, is the tech. I don't really know of an easy way to make raspberry pis appear out of thin air. So that might be an issue. Even the most rudimentary tech has a complex pipeline that stretches back to essentially slave labour. Cheap eastern manufacturing, minerals and resources from third world countries. Is there a better way to get tech running? How can you drive this production in a society like this?
And unless we solve these problems, we'll always need a bridge from our P2P paradise into the economic internet filled with crap. We'll always be reliant on the very people and structures we're trying to distance ourselves from. And that, to me, is a huge issue. Whether it be for computer parts, food, toiletries, water, or simply land to stand on, there's still that inherent reliance on a collapsing economy desperate to spy on people and censor what they say and do. That collapsing economy that wishes to control what you say, think, do, buy, and make.
The alternatives are obvious, but not appealing. We can either stay here, on the failing collapsing internet filled with crap. Or we can introduce the crap into our P2P haven. Require some sort of connection to the internet so that bitcoin may work, and in turn allow people to participate in the dying economy just so that we can get the things we need. Neither of these sound that great. One is to give up, and the other is to only carve out a small section for ourselves, rather than simply pack up and leave.
Is it impossible to fully decentralize society? Must there be some sort of central reliance to ensure things work reliably? I really doubt that. But for the time being, there doesn't seem to way to have fully decentralized tech, but also to keep building hardware. You'd need a meshnet the size of the internet, and that won't happen unless all the same crap can appear on it. Though, perhaps that's the end goal for everyone? Simply a more secure and reliable method for doing the same crap they already do?
I can't see how one would be able to splinter off and simply live without involving the exploitation of the participants of the system. Any thoughts on this matter would be appreciated.