Web 3.0 (Web3) is the third generation of the evolution of the web (World Wide Web). Web 3.0 will rely extensively on decentralized emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AI and Machine Learning to empower more intelligent and adaptive websites and application services.
Blockchain – 101
Blockchain is an important technological component in the development and evolution of the decentralized Web 3.0. A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger (record) of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network (computer to computer network). Through blockchain technology participants can confirm transactions without a need for a central clearing authority. Potential applications can include fund transfers, settling trades, voting, and many other areas. Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a blockchain network reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.
Blockchain is ideal for delivering that information because it provides immediate, shared, and completely transparent information stored on an immutable digital record that can be accessed only by permissioned network members. Members of a closed blockchain network share a single view of truth by having access to a shared record of all transactions providing the members with more confidence, trust, and security compared to a traditional network.
One of the principal challenges associated with blockchain is a lack of awareness of the technology especially in sectors other than banking and a widespread lack of understanding of how it works. Second, it places trust and authority in a decentralized network rather than in a powerful central institution that can provide oversight over the network.
Web 3.0 is in reality an alternative vision of the web where the services that we use are not hosted by a single service provider company, but rather they are of purely algorithmic things that are, in some sense, hosted by everybody. The idealistic proponents envision that web 3.0 will transform the internet as we know it upending traditional gatekeepers like Amazon, Google and Meta (former Facebook) and ushering in a new, middleman-free digital economy. However, critics believe that web 3.0 is a rebranding effort for crypto with the aim of shedding some of the industry’s cultural and political baggage and convincing people that blockchains are the natural next phase of computing.
Web 3.0 proponents argue that a blockchain-based internet would improve on the current internet in several ways. For instance, Web 3.0 could give creators and users a way to monetize their activity and contributions in a new way. Today, Meta (former Facebook) makes money by aggregating user data and selling targeted ads. A web 3.0 version of Meta could allow users to monetize their own data or even earn crypto “tips” from other users for posting content. “Metaverse”, which is a network of interactive tree-dimensional virtual worlds, is also set to play an important role in Web 3.0. This as Web 3.0 supports decentralization and the metaverse allows anyone to move freely and trade his or her assets with complete transparency. So while Web 3.0 focuses on the development of the internet of tomorrow, the metaverse focuses on how we will experience it. By merging physically persistent virtual spaces with virtual, augmented physical reality, you can think of the metaverse as a representation of the digital world you can access through your smartphone, but in a 3D representation.
From a policy perspective, the Japanese government is the first government in the world to adopt an official Web3 policy that plans to develop and expand the Web3 environment in the country including the use of cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and decentralized autonomous organizations. So far, the federal government in Washington DC’s engagement in Web3 policy has been very limited. While the prominent Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm Andreesen Horowitz is a strong advocate for Web3 policy.
From a corporate perspective, a recent report from the American investment bank Goldman Sachs recognized the Metaverse as an important part of the future Web 3.0. Meta, Sony, Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, and many other organizations are already making serious efforts to build metauniverses.
From an academia perspective, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has announced that it is building out a dedicated crypto and Web 3.0 research lab led by faculty from Columbia and Stanford university and Northeastern University have also created a Master’s degree in Information Systems with a Blockchain Technology specialization.
From an entrepreneurship perspective, Blockchain and crypto platforms such as Polygon and Circle have hired top talent from Big Tech firms lately enticing them with the pitch of working on the next “big thing” in tech — Web 3.0.
From an investment perspective, venture capital firms have put more than US$ 27B into crypto-related projects in 2021 alone — more than the 10 previous years combined — and much of that capital has gone to web 3.0 projects. Big tech companies such as Twitter and Reddit have also started experimenting with their own web 3.0 projects.
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