Berty: How do we imagine the future?

At Berty’s, we don’t have a crystal ball, and unfortunately, we don’t know the next winning lottery numbers. However, we do follow our intuitions, and these led us a few years ago to start the Berty project.

We are part of those who have lived all our life with the Internet and with the new modern means of communication. They are an integral part of our daily lives and are anchored in our habits.

We are part of those who always try to remain positive, active, and wish to see the glass half full. However, many signals have alerted us and made us think about the future of the world, and particularly that of communications.

How do we see the world of communications in 5 years?

We very sincerely believe that great revolutions will take place, and may already be in the making. They are technical, technological, but also cultural revolutions and these are still very confidential as they are just beginning their way to the general public.

To make a comparison, we think that this period is comparable to the birth of the Internet. In the beginning, TCP/IP protocols were reserved for experts, enthusiasts, and the lucky ones who had the tools. Among the first major Internet players, very few have survived and are still there today. When new players arrived, they imposed themselves for one simple reason: they responded to a need.

Over the past few years, we have been moving in a direction that suggests to governments around the world that they need to impose mass surveillance tools. Surveillance drones, surveillance cameras, surveillance of communication networks, various liberticidal laws… We believe that this battle of surveillance is one of the crucial issues for our future democracies.

Leaving it in the hands of private corporations and governments is not an option for us.

Our vision is that of an intuition that these needs have changed.

For half a decade now, people around the world have observed that the power of the most prominent players on the Internet could be a real problem, with severe economic consequences, political crises, and real dangers for democracies.

The fact is that today, in 2020, even if people have been made aware of the risks of this data centralization, to date, no reliable technical response is provided by civil society, nor democratized throughout the world.

What we think at Berty is that our societies will observe new needs emerging. Anonymity, privacy, data protection, and communication is one of the significant issues of our century. If it is still poorly distinguished by the general public, it could become the primary concern in the coming years. To meet them, we will have to know how to promote them, but above all, we will need tools and services that mark a radical change from their predecessors.

Our intuition leads us to believe that it is time for a new protocol to emerge, complementing the Internet and current communications networks with an independent, neutral, and autonomous infrastructure.

Yes, it is ambitious. Wasn’t Internet ambitious?

It will not be enough to be an Internet giant or even a start-up from the same incubators. It will be necessary to make a total break with the current Internet paradigm by offering a tool of collective interest, responding to a real and urgent need, and this in a disinterested way. It will be necessary to prove to its users that they are not mere consumers, but that they are both members of a community and actors of a common project.

A community-led project can be far more powerful than any multinational corporation. When it responds to a real need in a structured and organized way, a community can push the impossible limits.

We believe that this protocol should be open, free, and irreversibly belong to humanity. That is to say that everyone will have the inalienable right to use it, rework it, audit it, and verify its specificities.

It is here that the notion of “common” is paramount.

It is not a product or a service but a tool available to all. Does the Alphabet belong to a company? Can the Alphabet be banned or censored? No, and this is why Berty is imagined and designed with the idea that it can be used by everyone, integrated into an infinite number of applications.

If we are working so hard on the Berty protocol, we believe that a new standard must emerge as soon as possible and that it must be gradually integrated into tomorrow’s ecosystem by proving its robustness.

Like an alphabet, it takes time for it to spread everywhere. Then, little by little, its use becomes routine, and tools allow you to stop paying attention to it and concentrate on the rest.

At the dawn of a world that seems to have been undergoing stress tests for several years, we believe that the need for a new tool will grow and that it is now urgent to prepare for this radical break with centralized systems. Once this protocol is open and available, we believe that the majority of mainstream applications will no longer be able to assume commercially not to use it.

In 2010, a French cryptographic engineer specializing in the interception of communications, and the first director of the hacking section of the DGSE ((French Foreign Intelligence Services)), Bernard Barbier stated: “The Internet was not designed to be secure”.

The introduction of technologies such as BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) will create new uses and new applications using all forms of devices. Since the telephone is already ubiquitous worldwide, there is no doubt that they will be one of the components of tomorrow’s networks.

The user will be used to manage multiple devices, multiple accounts, and cryptography will have taken a turn based on the principles of Zero-Knowledge.

It is this same vision that motivates us today to work on an off-line first protocol.

We believe that developers around the world will see a keen interest in integrating our work into their applications, making secure communications accessible to citizens across the globe.

We believe that developers around the world will see a keen interest in integrating our work into their applications, making secure communications accessible to citizens across the globe.

Whether it is national institutions, public or private organizations, today’s consumer applications, or the applications that will revolutionize the Internet tomorrow, they will have the opportunity to integrate the Berty protocol.

What could happen?

Beginning of a crisis that lasts over time.

  • The COVID crisis has installed in people’s minds the possibility that our societies could be paralyzed and destabilized at different levels: economic, political, and cultural. For the first time in history, a whole generation is experiencing a massive “pause” in activities, isolation. It has to rethink its relationship to the globalized world or urban space.

Explosive context & global conflagration.

  • An extremely tense, even explosive, political context, both within states and at the geopolitical level, presenting as legitimate a significant increase in surveillance tools. The loss of confidence in institutions, states, or even the most extensive web platforms could lead to citizens’ behavior changes. It could emerge in many countries and fester, taking the form of riots, social protests, and civil wars. Examples of signals: Yellow Vests, Black Live Matters, Hong Kong, Chile,…

Paradigm shift & Decentralization.

  • Disruptors could be disrupted. All that would be needed would be a “killer app,” bringing to the general public a direct and intuitive understanding of the interest of decentralization, both technical and political. The biggest players on the Internet could lose their place as quickly as they have reached it. From the largest online platforms that we know of, to the roles of central banks, it is impossible to observe a total replacement of these structural benchmarks of our contemporary societies.

Democratization of New Organizational Methods and Philosophies

  • The massive emergence of tools, services, and protocols ensures the sovereignty of peoples and the protection of their methods of organization, communication, exchange, and collaboration. Leading to a kind of “reboot” of systems of thought, but also to the emergence of new political movements adapted to new methods of governance and decentralized organizations.

Bonus

In the 1990s, an article in Newsweek explained that the Internet was not exciting and would not be practical. What is certain is that the decentralized world is still in its infancy and that it will have to take up the most critical challenge: convincing people that it is there to help them.