Torrent Search Platform Tribler Works to Boost Decentralization with AI

May 7, 2024

Can AI be the key to a decentralized Internet? The group behind the BitTorrent-based search engine Tribler believe it can. TorrentFreak reports, “Researchers Showcase Decentralized AI-Powered Torrent Search Engine.” Even as the online world has mostly narrowed into commercially controlled platforms, researchers at the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology have worked to decentralize and anonymize search. Their goal has always been to empower John Q. Public over governments and corporations. Now, the team has demonstrated the potential of AI to significantly boost those efforts. Writer Ernesto Van der Sal tells us:

“Tribler has just released a new paper and a proof of concept which they see as a turning point for decentralized AI implementations; one that has a direct BitTorrent link. The scientific paper proposes a new framework titled ‘De-DSI’, which stands for Decentralised Differentiable Search Index. Without going into technical details, this essentially combines decentralized large language models (LLMs), which can be stored by peers, with decentralized search. This means that people can use decentralized AI-powered search to find content in a pool of information that’s stored across peers. For example, one can ask ‘find a magnet link for the Pirate Bay documentary,’ which should return a magnet link for TPB-AFK, without mentioning it by name. This entire process relies on information shared by users. There are no central servers involved at all, making it impossible for outsiders to control.”

Van der Sal emphasizes De-DSI is still in its early stages—the demo was created with a limited dataset and starter AI capabilities. The write-up briefly summarizes the approach:

“In essence, De-DSI operates by sharing the workload of training large language models on lists of document identifiers. Every peer in the network specializes in a subset of data, which other peers in the network can retrieve to come up with the best search result.”

The team hopes to incorporate this tech into an experimental version of Tribler by the end of this year. Stay tuned.

Cynthia Murrell, May 7, 2024


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