Dinis Guarda interviews Kristof De Spiegeleer CEO and Founder at ThreeFold on building a new P2P internet
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.“ Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931), Inventor
Kristof De Spiegeleer considers himself a humanist & motivated entrepreneur, passionate about helping to make the world a better place through technology. Ever since childhood, Kristof’s main passion was computers and coding. Later on, his curiosity about simply finding out “how stuff works” would change more to “how can I help make the world a better place.”
And that vision can be found in Kristof De Spiegeleer’s ThreeFold, where all gathered experiences in internet infrastructure, storage solutions, cloud computing, and blockchain are combined in one, to create a new true peer-to-peer internet that is built on 3 major pillars. First, equality: everyone should be treated equally, and have equal chances to succeed in life. Second, autonomy: everyone using this internet should be the sole owner of his or her data and digital life. Finally, sustainability: to meet the demand of internet capacity for everyone around the world, we need to drastically change the carbon footprint of the internet.
1. An introduction from you – background, overview, education…
2. Career highlights
3. About ThreeFold, organisations and focus
4. Building a P2P internet
5. Can you tell us the role of blockchain in it?
6. Digital Twins and the role of farmers.
7. How data is created and shared in the ThreeFold network
8. What are your visions for the present and future?
Quotes and Highlights
· I have always been more interested in my computer than in the people around me. That is not a good thing that people want to hear but it is true. After I finished my studies and after a while I had a sort of crisis where I asked myself what I really wanted to do and how could I help the world a little bit.
· As an engineer you always want to improve things. And when I started working I saw that in my field there is so much room for improvement I decided to go on my own and work towards that.
· I went through a hard experience when my wife almost died and I told myself I needed to stop and think differently, especially regarding the way the world works and what my part in there was.
· For me, every failure is an opportunity to do it better the next time. And the more the responsibilities the harder the failures hit but at the same time you also learn more. At some point I was responsible for 15 companies and it was difficult to keep up with all of that, and the chances of failure are higher there.
· Broken internet. The Internet was really beautiful in the beginning, people were part of it creating new content, it wasn’t controlled by anyone. Something like blockchain is doing now. The problem came when these huge data center companies came in and started trying to control it. They found ways to monetize our online presence, making our data a product to trade with and so they took over our part in creating the internet.
· Internet information is produced in very few places and these producers control the information, data and everything that is going on. People should consume the internet that would be created close to then. A good analogy would be producing electricity in one part of the world to be delivered to the other, that wouldn’t make sense.
· We need to stop for a bit, sit and restructure the way the internet, information and data is produced, traded and created and we, the majority of users, should again be put back into the spotlight, not behind the curtains.
· Technology is not the solution to save everything. Tech is a tool at our service, so the only ones that can solve problems are the people. That is how I understand technology and I am working hard towards realizing that vision. That is why I am working towards creating a peer-to-peer Internet system.
· The future is even scarier because the actual trend and tech development will accelerate and if we don’t do something about it the internet will be even less open and decentralized.
· By building a new internet together we can get back control of the internet and it doesn’t necessarily mean to pay for it. In this new internet we would be able to take control of our data through a P2P system where every user adds up to the system.
· We use farmers, something like the miners on a defi system. Farmers are people that believe in the idea and actually they invested in the company to buy storage capacity, servers, etc. They created tokens that helped us raise more money for our project. These farmers also helped us give credibility to our network and the feedback has been very warm. And our power has increased exponentially thanks to them.
· And to make that internet real, we are creating and partnering with many different small companies that share our vision. For example, we are partners with a 5G specialist company, an incubator, etc.
· Europe has some catch-up to do in internet and tech based companies.
· About blockchain. Blockchain showed people that they can build things decentralized. It is a share mechanism where people that are part of the network share all the data. We tried to integrate blockchain in a way that makes sense for people while being efficient. That is why we have created specific software for it.
· Digital twin. We built a digital twin for every node. A good example of how digital twins work in our network is if we compare it with a living organism. These are formed by cells that have all critical information and they are able to communicate to each other. In our network, digital twins will do the hard job of communication on the internet. This way we avoid having central databases, and it speeds up the process actually.
· Stellar blockchain. We did research about which blockchain project made more sense for us. We looked at reliability, scalability, stability, etc and Stellar just hit all of the right boxes for us. We don’t really like Ethereum although we of course like the way Ethereum network executes things. It is too specific and leaves little room to work around.
· The way I see our company is a blockchain for blockchains. Our partners can actually build blockchains and systems on top of our network or even use our network as it is open-source to build their own projects on there. However I need to say that we use blockchain foundations and ID. We aren’t building a blockchain, it is more than that.
· We believe our network can be useful in a variety of ways, for example in emerging countries as it is very cost-effective, for education purposes, even for governments dealing with sovereignty issues.
· Privacy. In our network data is owned by the users. So we thought about how to make people own their data while using high-tech developments such as digital twins, AI, etc.
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Kristof De Spiegeleer Biography
Kristof De Spiegeleer considers himself a humanist & motivated entrepreneur, passionate about helping to make the world a better place through technology. Ever since childhood, Kristof’s main passion was computers and coding. Kristof calls himself a nerd. Later on, his curiosity about simply finding out “how stuff works” would change more to “how can I help make the world a better place.”
Kristof graduated from the University of Ghent in 1994 and started his career building a network integrator in Belgium, one of the first ones in what was a super young industry at the time. A couple of years later Kristof was lucky to be one of the first hires in Europe of PSINet (the first commercial ISP in the world) where he was one of the driving forces behind the internet growth in Europe. A funny anecdote is that he worked on some projects which made it into the Guinness World Records.
Following his adventures at PSINet, Kristof founded what eventually became Incubaid, an incubator for tech companies in Belgium. Kristof would successfully exit multiple start-ups to companies by the likes of Oracle, Sun Microsystems, HGST (Western Digital), Terramark (Verizon), and more. This period is what Kristof refers to as Wave One.
Not much later he and Incubaid would start Wave Two. As much as he loved creating and coming up with groundbreaking concepts and technology, Kristof’s energy started shifting towards a more holistic view of technology and everything around him. Technology should no longer only just be efficient and approached from an economic standpoint, technology should help the world and/or humanity and take emotion into account.
During Wave Two, Kristof brought together his knowledge, multiple running projects, and his new-found vision. The biggest project to date is ThreeFold, where all gathered experiences in internet infrastructure, storage solutions, cloud computing, and blockchain are combined in one, to create a new true peer-to-peer internet that is built on 3 major pillars. First, equality: everyone should be treated equally, and have equal chances to succeed in life. Second, autonomy: everyone using this internet should be the sole owner of his or her data and digital life. Finally, sustainability: to meet the demand of internet capacity for everyone around the world, we need to drastically change the carbon footprint of the internet.
For the last couple of years, Kristof has dedicated nearly all of his time to Threefold and the growth of this new, needed peer-to-peer internet.
ThreeFold envisions a green and responsible peer-to-peer Internet that is available everywhere and owned by everyone – without borders, no geographical nor national discrimination, empowers people to be digitally independent, and provides equal chances to learn, partake and succeed.
Empowering equality around the globe
About half of the world’s population remains unconnected to the Internet, creating huge inequalities in access to information and knowledge. Additionally, the Internet is becoming fragmented, as governments around the globe are restricting access within their countries, or creating their own Internets in an effort to control and compartmentalize.
The ThreeFold Network offers a solution to these challenges. By deploying a distributed grid of nodes, remote regions can now be reached in a natural progression. Being decentralized by nature and leveraging self-healing technologies, the ThreeFold Grid cannot be restricted or sectioned off. This leads to a substantial increase in efficiency, access, and affordability. The ThreeFold Network will also sponsor the deployment of capacity to remote regions through it’s conscious capacity initiative.
ThreeFold Network is an Internet that empowers equality, freedom, and sustainability.
· Equality: 50% of the world does not have access to the Internet, yet it is a human right. ThreeFold is building an Internet inclusive to all, across geographical & cultural borders. Our grid of capacity is distributed and does not require centralized / power-hungry data centers.
· Freedom: People are not digitally independent; they don’t own their own data. To tackle that, they are building an Internet where everyone owns their own data just like they own their physical experiences.
· Sustainability: Today’s Internet is responsible for +5% of global energy consumption, that is why ThreeFold is building an Internet optimized on energy-efficiency & carbon reduction for a healthy planet.
Creating a Threefold Farmer network
ThreeFold Farmers are entrepreneurs who farm ThreeFold Tokens by connecting hardware to the TF Grid. As a result of farming, Internet capacity is generated and made available on the ThreeFold Grid Directory, from which users can then reserve and utilize. We are looking for farmers who can help to build a more sustainable Internet for generations to come, by giving the Internet back to the people.
Threefold network based on collaboration
As the company said: “We believe in collaboration instead of competition. Our grid can be used to host any project in a more decentralized, secure, and sustainable way.
We have integrated the ThreeFold Token with the Stellar Network to leverage their transactional blockchain. We are also in discussions with a number of blockchain projects around Grid use cases. These include SelfKey, 1World Online, and others.”
Since 2018, ThreeFold has formed a proud partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Most HPE server and storage hardware have been certified to be used on the ThreeFold Grid and HPE plans to build services to support the growth and usage of the ThreeFold Grid.
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