MaidSafe, a company based out of Ayr Scotland, started developing the SAFE network in 2006 and rumours are that David Irvine the project founder was unofficially working on the project even earlier than this!
SAFE stands for Secure Access For Everyone and the goals of the project are the most ambitious in the entire decentralized and $1.83 Trillion crypto space. No that is not hyperbole. That is 16 years of continued and ongoing development! One or two or three of you reading this were not even born at that time!
SAFE aims to completely decentralize the internet.
Websites, apps, search engines, social media, files, folders, data, photos, videos, entire libraries of everything, including, yes stupid TikTok videos! All completely decentralized via a private, secure and anonymous network of computers that they call farmers (similar to miners) acting as servers, the only difference being any person can decide to be a farmer, using any device, and be located anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection!
And to top it off with a cherry, an in-built economy based on data.
In their own words:
Using spare bandwidth and unused disk space on home computers and phones, we’re taking the web off corporate servers, out of government control, and back into the hands of people.
The way it works or should work is that SAFE is an autonomous network, no controllers, no string pullers, no centralized entities, no Wizards of Oz. None of that bullshit. This network is supposed to run itself and be completely distributed across the globe with zero option for it to be shut down or controlled.
The network encrypts everything by default, effectively slicing it up into bits that constantly move from one unknown location around the world to another new unknown location and of course with that, access to this data should be untraceable too. The farmers store the data and serve it up when asked and for this, they are rewarded a network fee, which is paid into the network by people storing data on the network.
Maidsafe made headlines (pun unintended) in 2014 with the world’s first ICO . This can be debated (the part about being first), what is not debated is that the term ‘ICO’ had not even been used prior to this and on top of that, it was a gigantic ICO for that particular point in time, with $7 million raised. This pushed the MAID token into the top 10 of the crypto charts and exposed the project to many new people.
It was around this time I first heard about MAID. Now you are hearing about it and for good reason.
I’ve been watching this project intently for years. They have had ups, downs, turnarounds, pivots, failures, successes…people have come, people have gone, some have called it a scam. I have seen it with my own eyes because the thing with money is when you enter a project and invest, you always want to exit at a certain point in time and you have a plan to exit, but when a project takes this long and peoples exit strategies are rendered null and void, people get emotional. I have even seen some people call it one of the worst things any project in this space can be called, vapourware.
The two questions I’d want to be answered if I was you:
 What is taking so long?
Look I’m lazy and there is no way that I am going to trawl through 16 years of Maidsafe history to serve that up for you on a silver platter, all so you can sit there on the toilet or wherever you are reading this now and say something like ‘Oh, OK, cool, makes sense’. What I will tell you is this. They have had significant changes with the codebase, programming language used and even the consensus mechanism. They have doubled-back so to speak more times than they wished they had to, but it’s been for the right reasons, to make it work. Here is a quote from an anonymous source that succinctly explains a lot of the reasons why this project is taking a long time to release:
…moving from C to Rust; from PARSEC (which took a quite a while to develop) to CRDT’s….The project as a whole is novel … there’s no proof of work or proof of stake and those were the most obvious ways to secure a network … How they are building it instead is quite complicated, with decentralized ranking of nodes, XOR addressing, loose consensus, high levels of redundancy, etc. – all of this inevitably has taken a huge amount of time….Despite the difficulties involved, the overall vision/aims/goals has been maintained – David hasn’t given much ground at all on the original promises … many projects make compromises on their promises when they hit a major roadblocks – to his credit, David just knuckled down, admitted the problems, then plotted another way to achieve the same goals.
There was also a substantial management mistake as well – over-hiring and getting too corporate ‘fat’ for a time. But that has also been corrected.
If you really want to read the entire history of it all, be my guest, you can go through almost all of the project’s updates here.
 Why should you care?
After 16 years of development, Maidsafe is almost ready for a release into what the team calls the Safe Maxwell Network. The current phase on their roadmap is at the end of the Safe Fleming Network.
The release of Safe Maxwell builds on top of Fleming and enables the network to upgrade, improves security and sets the ground work for switching Test Safe Network Tokens to real Safe Network Tokens.
SAFE is the sweetheart of the space. The team are legit hard workers and they never give up. That is undeniable. They don’t pump coins, they aren’t here to get rich off stupid images, games, memes, fake-ass partnerships or hype. It’s always been pure, raw, and intended completely for the benefit of humanity. That is beautiful.
And so if I ask myself having watched this project for 7 years, am I still interested in it? And if the answer is ‘no’, should I try to convince others to spend any amount of time on it? Yes, I am still interested, of course, I want to see them succeed. I want to see SAFE succeed. And even if I had personally lost interest, I think I would still want others to know about it. Why not?
You might be wondering if I am invested? No, I sold my share of MAID a long time ago. I genuinely want to see it happen because of what they want to do with it and when it does eventually release for the use of the everyday man, I want to support it. Take what you want from this article but it’s why I think you should care. This space is riddled top to bottom with the next best thing, rage quitting developers and founders, rug pulling anons, and generally speaking it is a crazy, wild west ecosystem at times, but this thing, SAFE, it stands out because of the very thing this article is about; time. It stands there solidly like a lighthouse beacon, flashing and churning, every single night, every single day. There is qualitative value in that. The constant chipping away. The amounts of sustained focus and energy expenditure create something that will eventually stand the tests of time in my opinion.
Let’s see what happens.
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Andrei R, 🔥Crypto Fireside
P.S. This is not financial advice, DYOR.
P.P.S My vested financial interests in Crypto? I own FIRO and that is all 🙂
This article was originally published by ANDREI R on Hackernoon: About MaidSafe’s 16+ Year Journey to Decentralize the Entire Internet