We asked Alfonso about his journey to PL, the projects he will be working on in the ResNetLab, and his thoughts about future technological developments:
What path brought you to PL?
I am among those convinced that the Internet as we know it is broken. If we want to send a message or exchange information with someone in the same building but connected to a different network, the information still needs to travel to the backbone of the Internet and then back to its destination (in our same building). This has important implications for latency, efficiency and privacy. This research problem has been haunting me since my years in college, and I couldn’t see any potential solution until I came across IPFS a few years ago. Since then, I have been following all the work and projects being done within PL, and every new release of IPFS, libp2p and Filecoin seemed to bring them closer to a potential solution to the the problem I wanted to solve. I then realized that the best way to work on the problems that interested me the most was to join PL, and that’s how I ended up here.
What are you working on?
I’m honored to be part of the amazing PL Research team, and specifically the Resilient Networks Lab (ResNetLab). I will be supporting the engineering team by proposing and shipping solutions to their most pressing challenges, as well as suggesting new lines of development and research according to the open problems in the field and the view we all want to push together. Some of the areas I will be directly contributing to are efficient file transfer and content delivery in content-addressable networks, content resolution and routing, DHT performance improvements, security and privacy of peer-to-peer networks, and the development of new network protocols.
What future technology are you most excited about?
The combination of cryptography, peer-to-peer networks, and the platform-agnostic execution of code (see Web Assembly, for instance): to me, blockchain technology and smart contracts are just the first success case of the impact that the combination of these technologies can have in our society. In the future, some of the things I expect to become a reality are Decentralized Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), a decentralized computing network (like Filecoin but for computing resources), or direct communication channels between devices through a global p2p infrastructure. I would love to see a resilient, secure, efficient, self-organizing, and self-regulated Internet architecture, and I feel the three technologies mentioned above are the key to achieve this (In my spare time I also like learning about quantum computing and quantum information; this may change the way we think about the Internet and computing, but I feel for now this is something for the distant future).