Sunday, December 21, 2003

Information ants

MUTE is a new peer-to-peer file-sharing app that focuses on secure, anonymous connectivity. The cool thing about MUTE (other than the fact that it might keep you from getting sued by rich assholes) is that the networking algorithm is based on the way ants find food.

Whether you use file-sharing or not, and regardless of your moral outlook on this practice, research such as MUTE is going to affect you someday... as spam levels rise and personal freedoms shrink, the need for better methods of data distribution will become more apparent. Currently these problems are addressed by grafting a secure layer (such as PGP/GPG) onto an insecure transport layer (have you heard of 'Carnivore'?), but this practice is inefficient and prone to problems, since nodes on the network have complete knowledge of where specific packets are coming from. A new network paradigm in which nodes are secure (i.e. the Bad Guys could own the routers and data pipes and still not be able to determine the source of a specific packet), with the security built in from the ground up instead of being grafted onto an existing infrastructure, would eliminate much of the potential for abuses of the system. Kudos to the folks at MUTE for taking a step in that direction.