After several decades in which communication on the Internet is based on the transmission of (larger and larger) blocks of bits, more and more people are wondering if there is a better – or more reliable – way to do it. . For many, the solution to this is called Web3 – although there is no universal definition of it – everyone has a slightly different idea of what this acronym stands for. The Core Consensus: Bringing the best ideas from the cryptocurrency world to the web.
In a way, this is just the next logical step: the most well-known cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and ether, have been in the works for over a decade. For many years there has been talk of using blockchain technology also for non-monetary tasks. Database providers such as Oracle have already integrated the corresponding functions.
But even with this topic, there are still skeptical voices raising pointed objections. For example, cryptocurrencies have not eliminated online fraud, they have only enabled new forms of fraud. It’s one thing as long as a few fanatics experiment in a niche. If the same algorithms are to be part of our daily lives, things are different.
We’ve rounded up seven reasons for – and against – Web3.
Pros: Decentralized control helps us all
The sharing of responsibilities was one of the main motivations behind the invention of Bitcoin. The Internet was once designed as a decentralized network. Web3 embraces this idea and opposes the idea of individuals or organizations acting as transaction gatekeepers.
The vision of decentralized and shared control would be good for almost all areas of the market and of life. Some may find the concept overkill for something as “trivial” as the Internet. However, even a cursory glance at recent history shows that concentrations of power can have extremely problematic consequences.
Disadvantages: decentralization is a chimera
While the algorithms are full of theoretical promise, actual implementations don’t always deliver what is promised. Bitcoin mining, for example, is dominated by a handful of mining pools because the costs are exorbitant. The idea of the whole world singing “Kumbaya” and collectively signing each new block is extremely far from reality. If the most important cryptocurrency is in the hands of a few, what hope is there for smaller niches?
Advantage: better Web3 protocols, less power consumption
Just because bitcoin mining consumes a lot of power doesn’t necessarily apply to Web3. Finally, there are a variety of consensus mechanisms that are less energy-intensive – such as proof-of-stake. This decentralized neural protocol is not perfect, but it could become an adequate model for some parts of Web3. The idea of a blockchain run by a coalition of multiple trusted entities is also in the air: In theory, this model would not be decentralized – but could (if the coalition is large enough and the process is open) drive much less energy-intensive operation to carry out.
Disadvantages: Web3 as an energy consumer
Crypto advocates believe there is no real alternative to the power-hungry proof-of-work process if Web3 is to succeed. If the representatives of this camp are right, the construction will consume a lot of energy.
Advantage: Web3 produces better data
Our lives increasingly depend on data. Any measure that helps increase their accuracy is therefore beneficial – especially if the information is used for decision-making. A side effect of more robust signatures and protocols for every interaction: more structure. Poor quality data will always find a place in the mix, but cryptography demands precision from algorithms. Therefore, Web3 will inevitably provide more accurate and higher quality data.
Cons: Web3 is too fragile
Proponents of cryptographic algorithms like to talk about their sensitivity to even the smallest changes. The downside of this sensitivity: the algorithms are fragile. Fleas are much tougher, but not perfect either. The big challenge for Web3 will be to find a way to detect minute gradations to distinguish unimportant background noise from fraud attempts.
Pros: Web3 beats Zero Trust
Some security teams strive to apply Zero Trust principles to their stack. Web3 algorithms go further as they incorporate digital signatures that verify the completeness and accuracy of data. So instead of blindly distrusting every packet of data, systems can rely on the general network of users to control the data. Web3 implements Zero Trust principles not just at the perimeter, but consistently.
Cons: Web3 is too complex
There are many sad examples of smart contracts becoming nightmares (see for example here, here, here or here). Blockchain immutability has a dark side at this point: errors need to be dealt with. Smart developers must therefore – and will find – a way to implement a workaround that allows them to undo stupid or accidental decisions. However, there will and should be limits: for data structures and the Web of Assurance to have any real value, users must respect them.
Pros: Web3 requires better programming
Programming software is difficult. As good as we want it to be, bugs usually creep into our code. Web3 ideals add an extra layer of discipline here – which forces developers to work harder, but can also help them do a better job.
Cons: Web3 is overkill
In a conversation with the CEO of a major bank, I once extolled the added security offered by digital signatures. In his opinion, a good database written in the 1960s and running on a mainframe architecture of that time was sufficient. Why complicate everything? Why spend more money and start a new construction site by adding an extra layer of security?
Pros: Web3 holds users accountable
Many of the Internet’s problems start with people who are not responsible for their actions. This changes in the world of Web3, which is based on security and whose algorithms ask for “names” (even if they are pseudonyms). Therefore, Web3 implementations create real user responsibility. While it’s not perfect, it’s an improvement over the status quo.
Cons: Web3 warranties are just an illusion
One of the most serious problems with digital signatures and blockchain: What if the all-powerful algorithms make mistakes? Some blockchain operators have already made exceptions in such cases and “rewritten” the past. This can lead to the belief that the sublime principles of Web3 are ultimately not that far off.
Pros: Web3 beats the alternatives
Cryptocurrencies and Web3 may not solve the world’s problems. They may also never offer a permanent and fully reliable solution. But perhaps it is simply enough that they are better or work better than man-made institutions such as central banks and regulators.
Cons: Web3 will spoil the fun
The internet was once a wild and free place that thrived on the fleeting, impersonal detachment of permanence. The security and permanence of blockchain means you can no longer pretend it all happened because someone stole your identity or hacked into your account. When every click is set in stone, the fun is over and the big sweat begins. (MF)
This article is based on an article from our American sister publication Infoworld.