What is it, and why does it matter?
WHAT IS WEB 3.0?
In simple terminology, Web 3.0 is the third generation of the internet where websites and apps will be able to process information in a smart human-like way through technologies like machine learning (ML), Big Data, decentralized ledger technology (DLT), etc.
It promises an internet that relies a lot less on platforms like Google or Facebook and more on decentralized networks and would rely on blockchain technology, as well as artificial intelligence.
Earlier, it was referred to as the Semantic Web by Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the world wide web as we know it and was aimed at being more autonomous, intelligent, and open. Web 3.0 networks will operate through decentralized protocols and we can expect to see a strong convergence and symbiotic relationship between the three technologies, namely blockchain, cryptocurrency, and web 3.0 seamlessly integrated, automated through smart contracts.
HISTORY OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB
The internet is arguably the most important technology revolution in the history of humankind.
Although the industry has evolved considerably since its inception, its current stage is akin to the auto industry in 1920 — that is, it’s world-changing technology that has been around for 20 years but is still relatively immature and in need of major improvements.
Tim Berners-Lee’s internet was to be a collaborative medium, a place where we [could] all meet and read and write. An interconnected computer system designed for scientists to share experiments was soon dominated by AOL, Compuserve, early Yahoo, and other portals. These online service providers were the gateway to Web 1.0, where businesses, individuals, and governments began to consume and occasionally post content. Netscape launched its web browser in 1994, prompting the dot-com explosion, and the browser wars began.
Unlike Web 1.0 where, according to Graham Cormode and Balachander Krishnamurthy, content creators were few … with the vast majority of users simply acting as consumers of content, Web 2.0 brought us the Web as Platform, where software applications are built upon the Web as opposed to upon the desktop. These enabled masses of users to participate in content creation on social networks, blogs, sharing sites, and more. Search engines and social media platforms are driven by user-generated content that disrupted the media, advertising, and retail industries. As a result, giant companies in retail and publishing that did not adapt have died or are struggling to stay alive. The internet became a massive app store, dominated by centralized apps from Google, Facebook, and Amazon, where everyone is trying to build an audience, collect data and monetize that data through targeted advertising.
OK, SO WHAT IS WEB 3.0?
Web 3.0 is the next stage of the web evolution that would make the internet more intelligent or process information with near-human-like intelligence through the power of AI that could run smart programs to assist users.
Tim Berners-Lee had said that the Semantic Web is meant to “automatically” interface with systems, people, and home devices. As such, content creation and decision-making processes will involve both humans and machines. This would enable the intelligent creation and distribution of highly-tailored content straight to every internet consumer.
Although not the Semantic Web envisioned by Berners-Lee, Web 3.0 is in many ways a return to his original web, where “no permission is needed from a central authority to post anything, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure, and no “kill switch”!
To understand the next stage of the internet, we need to take a look at the four key features of Web 3.0:
· Semantic Web
· Artificial Intelligence
· 3D Graphics
Ubiquity means being or having the capacity to be everywhere, especially at the same time. In other words, omnipresent. In that sense, Web 2.0 is already ubiquitous since, for instance, a Facebook user can instantly capture an image and share it, which then becomes ubiquitous since it’s available to anyone no matter where they are, as long as they have access to the social media platform.
Web 3.0 simply takes this a step further by making the internet accessible to everyone anywhere, at any time. At some point, internet-connected devices will no longer be concentrated on computers and smartphones like in Web 2.0 since IoT (Internet of Things) technology will bring forth a plethora of new types of smart devices.
Semantic(s) is the study of the relationship between words. Therefore, the Semantic Web, according to Berners-Lee, enables computers to analyze loads of data from the Web, which includes content, transactions, and links between persons. In practice, how would this look? Let’s take these two sentences, for instance:
I love Bitcoin
I <3 Bitcoin
Their syntax may be different, but their semantics are pretty much the same since semantics only deals with the meaning or emotion of the content.
Applying semantics in the Web would enable machines to decode meaning and emotions by analyzing data. Consequently, internet users will have a better experience driven by enhanced data connectivity.
Wikipedia defines AI as intelligence demonstrated by machines.
And since Web 3.0 machines can read and decipher the meaning and emotions conveyed by a set of data, it brings forth intelligent machines. Although Web 2.0 presents similar capabilities, it is still predominantly human-based, which opens up room for corrupt behaviors such as biased product reviews, rigged ratings, etc.
For instance, online review platforms like Trustpilot provide a way for consumers to review any product or service. Unfortunately, a company can simply gather a large group of people and pay them to create positive reviews for its undeserving products. Therefore, the internet needs AI to learn how to distinguish the genuine from the fake to provide reliable data.
Google’s AI system recently removed around 100,000 negative reviews of the Robinhood app from the Play Store following the Gamespot trading debacle when it detected attempts of rating manipulation intended to artificially downvote the app. This is AI in action, which will soon seamlessly fit into Internet 3.0, enabling blogs and other online platforms to sift data and tailor them to each user’s liking. As AI advances, it will ultimately be able to provide users with the best filtered and unbiased data possible.
Spatial Web and 3D Graphics
Some futurists also call Web 3.0 the Spatial Web as it aims to blur the line between the physical and the digital by revolutionizing graphics technology, bringing into clear focus three-dimensional (3D) virtual worlds.
Unlike their 2D counterparts, 3D graphics bring a new level of immersion not only in futuristic gaming applications like Decentraland, but also in other sectors like real estate, health, e-commerce, and many more.
IoT will also be fundamental in making Web 3.0 ubiquitous, with a whole host of new smart devices being connected to the Web and thus accessing content. This could mean that, eventually, everyone has access to the internet at all times, thanks to this vast network of internet-connected devices.
In sum, Web 3.0 will bring us a fairer internet by enabling the individual to be a sovereign. True sovereignty implies owning and being able to control who profits from one’s time and information. Web 3.0’s decentralized blockchain protocol will enable individuals to connect to an internet where they can own and be properly compensated for their time and data, eclipsing an exploitative and unjust web, where giant, centralized repositories are the only ones that own and profit from it.
What do you think? please leave a comment if you feel otherwise or have something to add to the Web 3.0 discussion.