The ABCs of Web 3 and 4
STORY INLINE POST
Web 1.0 enabled the World Wide Web of information: sharing and finding information everywhere in the world, seven days a week and 24 hours a day.
Web 2.0 enabled e-commerce: performing business transactions anywhere in the world, seven days a week and 24 hours a day.
Web 3.0 is meant to enable all types of transactions — not only financial — across decentralized but fully secured networks, seven days a week and 24 hours a day as well. Basically, it is all about evolving blockchain to become mainstream, and with that, making the internet provide a higher degree of value than ever before.
Web 3 will leverage the internet as well as private networks, building blockchain capabilities on top and interconnecting them as needed. All this will happen while AI-based interactions become more and more prevalent, involving devices (IoT) and individuals. And none of this will have to be tied or limited to any cryptocurrency.
Some of the Web 3 will involve metaverses, but certainly not all of it. We will see some metaverses without Web 3 capabilities, and the other way around. So, Web 3 does not have metaverse as a prerequisite; the two trends are intrinsically independent of each other. Understanding the metaverse as the extreme and high-steroids virtual reality environment, I would submit that Web 3 is going to have great implications for businesses, especially in the majority of the B2B space.
I recently attended the Money 2020 event in Las Vegas. While there were many sessions focused on the metaverse, it wasn’t clear how that will impact end-user banking consumers in a significant way. On the other hand, there were really good examples of how to leverage the metaverse internally, for employee-related purposes, such as, training, onboarding, coaching and, hybrid workplace.
On the other hand, the potential impact of Web 3.0 is expected to be dramatic, across all aspects of businesses. What is not clear is how fast it will be embraced and what steps to take to move forward on that journey. As mentioned before, we are not talking about cryptocurrencies only, that is just one specific application of blockchain technology; we are talking about a myriad of other transactions and applications, such as smart contracts, decentralized voting, energy grids, supply chain optimization, certification processes, insurance settlement, real estate mortgage, art and property ownership rights in general.
But even the most basic application in the financial world is transformational. Can you imagine cross-bank transactions on an international basis that are settled in real time? Any day of the week, across any country and with low to no fees? This would be transformational on its own, and this is not about Bitcoin or Ethereum, this could be enabled leveraging the concept of Stablecoins (cryptos with value tied to hard currencies, such as the US dollar, Euro or British pound).
Just as a way to speculate, having so much passion for the subject of Web 3 and for music, we could wonder for a second and ask, “will there be a Web 4.0? What will it look like?”. I recently read Peter Gabriel describing a concept that he just came up with that he calls “the Panopticom.” He defines it as “the creation of an infinitely expandable accessible data globe.” To me, this sounds like what Web 4 could be. By the way, for those of you who like music but don’t know Gabriel, he is one of the most insightful and transcendental musicians (composer and singer) of our generation and who was always ahead of his time. He is the former singer of the band Genesis, among other things.
The Panopticom sounds to me like AI, blockchain, metaverse … all together … and the “infinitely expandable globe” requires dark energy, which we still need to figure out. I hope that by the time Web 4 comes to life, scientists figure out what dark energy and dark matter are.
I tend to be critical but ultimately optimistic like Gabriel, regarding his further vision of the Panopticom: “We are beginning to connect a like-minded group of people who might be able to bring this to life, to allow the world to see itself better and understand more of what’s really going on.”
I would summarize my expectation of Web 4 as the coexistence of humans and AI-enabled devices in an expandable globe of data, with a common and optimistic goal: to make life better for everyone!
In collaboration with Peter Gabriel.