Ultimately, Web3’s ideal form will be a type of utopian internet that treated all users, all data, all networks, and all stakeholders equally. You’d have as much directly to your own information as Verizon or Comcast, and just as much chance to profit from it as they currently do.
Of course, that is the ideal form of the concept. Anyone old enough to keep in mind the original, idealized concept of social networking should be in a position to observe how well online ideals match up against online realities. All they’d need to do is contrast those original promises of positive connectivity and collaborative progress with the dystopian realities many of us are now facing. Sure, you might be better able to keep up with the goings-on of your cousin’s bakery or your friend’s baby nowadays, but you’ll have to sift through fake news, disinformation campaigns, cyberbullying, and almost every other foul thing that has bubbled up through the Web 2 . 0 2.0 era.
What sort of risks and pitfalls will it include?
Let’s be clear about something; we’re discussing a proposed revamp of literally the entire internet here. The single thing that has, arguably, had the most impact on humanity over the past several decades would be getting completely redesigned if Web3’s enthusiasts have their way. Much like anything as staggeringly complex as this proposal, the actual pitfalls one could dream up spiral beyond comprehension almost immediately. Having said that, it’s still important to examine some of the most likely problems that could arise from a transition to Web3.
The current internet is, for good or ill, regulated in a variety of ways in numerous jurisdictions. Arguments over how good a job the many regulatory bodies are doing aside, they generally exist to safeguard the web’s users from constantly being afflicted by things like hacking, fraud, theft, harassment, the dissemination of child abuse imagery, unfair business practices, and other cybercrimes. Some believe the individualization of most people provided by Web3’s ideals could balloon all of these malicious activities and spawn entirely new ones. The main reason for this fear is the utterly anonymous nature of Web3’s underlying infrastructure. Equally as cryptocurrency has been used to aid criminal activity by giving an anonymized approach to payment that’s beholden to no government or bank, so Web3’s tokenized system may possibly also help unlawfuls remain untraceable by any governmental or law enforcement authorities.
Of course, as with any tool, it’s all about the people that use it. Citizens living under repressive regimes could benefit greatly from the sort of anonymity that could also enable any of the aforementioned crimes. The question here, as with so many other human endeavors, is do the actual benefits outweigh the potential costs?
One of the biggest complaints about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has been its effect on the planet. While the connection might not be immediately clear, the reason for the potentially massive environmental impact of the two technologies is their reliance on ‘mining’.
Without going into a level of detail that could require a second explainer of its own, cryptocurrency and blockchains generally rely on massive banks of processors — mostly off-the-shelf video cards — to handle the technological workloads that permit their decentralized operation. These power-hungry devices have caused such a stir that countries like Sweden are considering outlawing large-scale mining operations, while others, like El Salvador, would like power sources as unconventional as volcanos to encourage mining businesses without them becoming a huge drain on the local grids.