In the beginning, everyone was happy just to communicate on the internet. If the packets of bits were delivered without error, everyone rejoiced. Now after several decades of just delivering bits, albeit in bigger and bigger blocks, some are beginning to wonder if we can do better. Maybe just moving the data isn’t enough? Maybe we can start to bring some level of assurance? Maybe, just maybe, there’s something we can do to make the entire experience a bit easier to trust?
For some people, the answer is the buzzword “Web3.” There’s no official committee, and everyone has a slightly different vision of what those four letters mean, but the basic dream is the same: take some of the best ideas from the world of cryptocurrencies and find a way to bring their certainty and security to the rest of the web.
In some ways, the path forward is obvious. Digital cash algorithms date back to the previous century. The best known options, Bitcoin and Ethereum, have been in the works for more than a decade. Moreover, the software is battle-tested and trusted by many with billions of dollars of wealth. People have been talking for years about bringing the blockchain to non-monetary tasks, and some of the biggest and most trusted databases, like Oracle, already have features to support it.
But there are still skeptics with a pointed objection for every success story. They know that cryptocurrencies haven’t eliminated fraud from the web. If anything, they’ve just enabled a different form. It’s one thing for a bunch of zealots to experiment off in a corner. It’s another if the algorithms become part of daily life for everyone.
Here are seven reasons to be excited about the opportunities of Web3 and seven reasons to be more than a tad skeptical. The truth, if it’s out there at all, may lie in some combination of all of these reasons and more.
Decentralized control helps everyone
One of the biggest goals behind the invention of Bitcoin was to spread around responsibility. Indeed one of the early goals for the internet was a decentralized network that could survive a war or two. Web3 embraces this idea and insists that no one person or organization should be the gatekeeper for transactions. Truth isn’t something dictated from above but something that arises organically from a genuine consensus.
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