Practical and Idealist Takes on Web 3.0
Blockchain, AI, edge computing, crypto, and most tech buzzwords are part of the Web 3.0 revolution. The next generation of the web promises to be omnipresent, intuitive, secure, and independent. But how will the new internet practically change the world? What might this mean for my future children?
Today you can command a virtual assistant from a handheld device or kitchen speaker to get the current value of Ethereum — a digital currency built on a blockchain. Creating an account with a new service is often a one-step process of selecting Google, Facebook, or Apple from a list. Tesla owners tweet feature requests at Elon Musk, and the update downloads to their car a few weeks later. So web 3.0 is already here in some ways. However, the potential of our technology is significantly greater.
Imagine never having to log in, signup, or give unnecessary personal information again. Instead, as usual, you unlock your device with a physical key or biometric like Apple’s Face ID. But now, everything on the web is integrated with a secure identity controlled by you. For example, let’s say you order from a new food delivery service. Behind the scenes, the decentralized servers create an anonymous account linked to your root identity, requests payment, and the deliverer receives the dropoff address. As a result, you can seamlessly use any service on the web without trusting third parties with information like your root identity, payment information, or address. We could expect such a user experience within a decade as decentralized web services grow like Dfinity’s Internet Identity.
Internet technology could become almost unrecognizable after ten years or so. Notably, natural language interfaces far more advanced than present would replace much of the web’s visual front-end. For example, a digital assistant will brief you on recent business messages, outpacing the graphical interfaces of current email clients. The entire Domino’s website might be replaced by a bot asking, “What would you like to order?”. Furthermore, every service sector such as banking, food, hospitality, and medical care will have conversational interfaces.
Traditional advertising will disappear as ad-blocking software improves and ad-free premium models take over. To adapt and because it is more effective, marketers and advertising giants like Google and Facebook will attract customers through product placement and AI-driven manipulation of information. For example, a brand pays YouTube to have an algorithm find and recommend videos that in any way mention or show its products. George Holtz, a founder of driverless technology company Comma.ai and a hacker behind many iOS jailbreaks, believes there will come a time where algorithms manipulate and predict our behavior with an accuracy that endangers our free will.
Software of future Web 3.0 technology is significantly more performant, faster to develop, and integrates effortlessly. In particular, creating, reading, updating, and deleting data (CRUD) is commoditized, so end-users pay no attention to the entity doing it. For example, software for creating and distributing media like articles, videos, and music is as rudimentary as the Domain Name System (DNS). In general terms, the cutting edge of today’s software is the base layer of future tech stacks. So when globally distributed CRUD is easy, what is hard?
IBM and other large firms are engineering early-stage quantum computers. These computers leverage the strange mechanics of atomic particles to perform highly complex logical operations. Experts say quantum computations can solve challenging problems in chemistry, physics, and cryptography. But, currently, architectures are restricted and error-prone, and researchers believe the technology has a long way to go. Nevertheless, IBM already allows access to experimental machines via their cloud service. So quantum operations are likely to become a niche service on the edge of the Web 3.0 network.
Neuralink is a billionaire-backed startup building wireless implants that interface directly with the brain. The implants are capable of interpreting neural activity in animals to predict their motor functions. In addition, the company aims to inject signals into the brain to make the interface bi-directional. An implant like this adds the brain to the Internet of Things (IoT) network composed of devices like security cameras, wristwatches, speakers, and thermostats. Significant adoption of this technology is part of what I call Web 4.0.
The fourth generation of the web is more or less the technological singularity. It begins once brains merge with the fully assembled 3.0 network. In theory, humans could share thoughts, pain, and pleasure faster than a text. Likewise, a person could access the skills and memory of others smoother than a Netflix stream. The minds of civilization would form a literal collective consciousness that rapidly evolves to an unknown end. Web at that point is either what ends humanity or allows us to survive for millions of years.
More relevant to us now is Web 3.0, which brings a host of new features, challenges, and questions. I suspect the main upgrades to happen within ten years. So the question to consider is, how can version three technology be used to make the world a better place?