Web3 or Web 3.0 is the latest buzzword making rounds on social media and news stories. It marks a new chapter in the Internet evolution where AI and machine learning take the center stage.
Driven by high-end technology solutions and a collective desire to decentralize power away from Big Tech dominance, Web3 offers the blueprint for the next generation of the World Wide Web.
But is it a mere concept, a stark reality, or a clever marketing play? Well, it depends on who you ask. Former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, believes the entire premise of Web3 is a lie plotted by venture capitalists.
“You don’t own “web3.” The VCs and their LPs do. It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.”
Opposing Dorsey’s views is Mathew Dryhurst, an artist and early crypto-adopter who teaches a class on Web3 and machine learning at New York University.
“The idea that we will no longer be interacting with one or two kinds of central points of attention, let’s say Twitter or Facebook, but instead be subject to potentially thousands of different interfaces of different interactions around content that is produced, I think, fundamentally changes the experience of the web.”
Neither Dorsey, who wants to keep the status quo nor Dryhurst, who might be looking too far ahead, should influence your understanding of what constitutes Web3 and how you can harness its potential.
The latest advancements in AI and machine learning and the emergence of distributed ledger technology such as blockchain are already paving the way for a new Internet. So, whether you call it Web3 or not, it doesn’t change that we’re in the midst of a digital revolution where innovators and early adopters could gain a business edge for years to come.
In this article, we discuss all aspects of Web3. But before we dive into features, benefits, and examples, we must understand its predecessors: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
Web 1.0 – a ready-only Internet
Three decades ago, in 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). The first iteration of the Internet was all about static websites, with most users being content consumers. In the absence of search engines, people had to memorize the URLs and type them correctly to access information.
The underlying technologies of Web 1.0 were:
- HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
- HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
- URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
- Common Gateway Interface (CGI)
- Frames and tables were used to position and align the elements on a page.
The most prominent example of Web 1.0 was Geocities, a precursor to social media and one of the first places where any user could launch a website for free. Now an Internet relic, thousands of Geocities sites are on display at OoCities.org.
Web 2.0 – the interactive Internet
- Free classification of information with users able to sort and tag data collectively.
- APIs to allow automated usage
- Dynamic and responsive websites and apps that facilitate user engagement
- Mass participation and accessibility
- Emphasis not on the information itself but on how much value it brings to users
Web 2.0 is most of the Internet as we experience it today. It’s the world of social media, online e-commerce, blogging, podcasting, tagging, and networking. But diverse and convenient as it is, Web 2.0 is highly centralized, with the ownership of data mostly in the hands of a few powerful companies. People are tired of the tech giants treating users like ‘products’, by selling user data and spamming their newsfeeds with paid ads.
For many entrepreneurs and developers, Web3 is a return to the basics where no central controlling node exits. Powered by AI, Web3 is user-centric, decentralized, smart, and transparent. It blurs the barriers between digital content and physical objects by smoothly integrating with VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) worlds such as Metaverse.
Web 3.0 – a portable and personal Internet
Web3 is a mix of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, and augmented reality, all working in unison to provide the ultimate browsing experience to the end-user. To better understand Web3, let’s look at its core features.
No matter how many changes the Internet went through since its inception, finding relevant information on the web is not always easy and intuitive. Today, thanks to AI and machine learning, search engines display more accurate and relevant results, but they’re still limited within their existing engine schema.
The semantic web aims to structure and tag data in such a way that it can be read and interpreted directly by computers, just like humans would do. By comprehending the meaning of words rather than keywords or page numbers, Semantic Web delivers precise and effective results for the most sophisticated queries.
Also referred to as Web 3.0, the Enterprise Information Web, the Linked Data Web, the Web of Data, and even the Giant Global Graph, the goal of the Semantic Web is to make Internet data machine-readable via technologies such as Resource Description Framework (RDF) and Web Ontology Language (OWL).
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
We’re long past the stage where AI is just a concept in a sci-fi novel. AI is everywhere and evolving. For the immediate future, AI programs will still act as an additional tool for humans rather than their replacement. However, in the context of web architecture, AI is quickly asserting its influence.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms have advanced to a level where making precise predictions and life-saving acts is the norm. Combining this capability with natural language processing in Web 3.0, AI can distinguish information just like humans to provide fast and relevant results.
AI is already excelling in differentiating between genuine and fraudulent reviews. It offers personalized shopping and learning and automates administrative tasks. AI is getting better by the day and is the main force behind the Web’s continuous evolution.
The decentralized Internet is arguably the most attractive and promising feature of Web3. Think of it as a system of interconnected and privately owned computers that work together to provide private, secure, censorship-resistant access to information and services.
We certainly have the technology to make it possible. The question is, will decentralized data networks be adopted on a global scale? Today, you need intermediaries to close a deal, and your private data is owned by Big Tech. All your browsing history and tendencies are tracked by the likes of Google and Facebook to better target their ads.
A decentralized Web eliminates the middleman and returns your data to your own hands. With data sent over an encrypted network, you can choose what information to share and, on top of that, make money from it. Thanks to decentralization, Web3 eliminates the possibility of a single point of failure, being intrinsically more secure and predictable.
All of the above features need a robust framework to sustain them, and here’s where blockchain comes into play. Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change or hack. In essence, it’s a digital ledger and a global peer-to-peer network of computers where trust is facilitated through the collective record-keeping maintained by each computer.
Blockchain is behind the success of cryptocurrencies and the emergence of DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), DeFI (decentralized finance), and NFT (Non-Fungible Token) craze that is taking the world by storm.
With new protocols such as Smart Contracts, blockchain technology automates the execution of agreements so that all participants can be instantly sure of the outcome without any third-party’s involvement or time loss.
Benefits of Web3
Web3 benefits stem from its key features and cover various sectors, from healthcare and finance to gaming and automation systems. Here’s what makes Web3 so appealing:
All data sent over decentralized networks is encrypted and protected by the blockchain. End-users gain complete ownership and privacy of their sensitive information. They can sell it directly to interested parties, effectively ending the hegemony of Big Tech. While this benefit is yet to become a reality, the tech giants are already exploiting the possibility of paying you for your data. On Web3, you will choose whom to sell your information.
Web3 doesn’t need a central authority to control and regulate your digital assets and transactions. Anyone can join and participate in the network without the control of an organization. The permissionless nature of Web3 promotes a more democratic and tolerant Internet, where no one is blocked or denied service based on social factors, gender, income, or geographic location.
Consistent and Seamless
Backed by blockchain technology and AI efficiency, Web3 takes the notion of security and convenience to a whole new level. With data stored on distributed nodes, multiple backups ensure data integrity and prevent data loss during an unlikely system failure. Moreover, organizations and governments can’t block you from using services and websites, as the likelihood of account suspension is reduced.
Open and Transparent
Web3 is powered by open-source software and transparent community projects that offer users the freedom to interact privately or publicly without intermediaries setting rules or charging fees. By being accessible from everywhere, Web3 will foster new connections and interactions worldwide. The AI will take care of information flow and security while people focus on fulfilling their needs and building their businesses.
Web3 is scalable and flexible. It goes beyond desktops and smartphones and integrates smoothly with IoT devices and 3D networks like Metaverse. With every device connected to the Web, services are available to everyone, regardless of status and location.
Limitations of Web3
Web3 is already meeting the expectations of businesses that rely on AI and blockchain technology. However, we’re still in the early days of its development and maturity. Implementing it on a large scale is still challenging. To fully benefit from its benefits, you have to know its limitations.
Requires high-end devices
You need last-generation smartphones to handle the underlying technologies behind Web3. Outdated operating systems and below-average specifications won’t cut it in the realm of AI, blockchain, and 3D graphics. If you’re still using Windows XP, forget about it.
A long way to go before widespread adoption
Web3 is gaining traction in first-world countries, with businesses and government sectors using AI and blockchain to enhance productivity and improve services. However, in other parts of the world, Web3 and its supporting technology are still fringe topics.
Regulation is not straightforward
The very essence of Web3 goes against the established norms and regulations. You can’t change the current state of affairs overnight. To embrace decentralization, we need consensus among governments and big corporations that Web3 principles are the way to move forward.
Not easy to grasp
To build scalable and efficient applications for Web3, you need competent people obsessed with innovation and technology. That’s why hiring seasoned blockchain developers becomes a priority when you want to make the leap from Web 2.0 to Web3.
Now that we’ve introduced you to Web3, let’s see it in action. You can find it in virtual assistants, voice recognition software, crypto exchanges, NFT marketplaces, healthcare, education, and financial sectors. Here are some examples of Web3 applications.
If you own an iPhone, Web3 is already in your pocket. Siri is Apple’s built-in voice recognition program that helps users accomplish everyday tasks using voice, touch, and automation. Siri uses voice queries and a natural language user interface (UI) to make calls, send text messages, answer questions, and offer recommendations.
Mozilla’s Common Voice
We’ve worked with Mozilla to develop an intuitive website where users can donate their voices and help machines better understand natural intonations and native accents. Today Common Voice hosts over 13,000 recorded hours in 76 languages, including demographic metadata like age, and sex, which enhance speech recognition software.
Our very own creation, Grid Collection, is the perfect example of Web3 in full swing. Based on blockchain technology, the NFT platform brings sports fans closer to legendary memorabilia. It authenticates and sells ultra-rare physical artifacts such as game-worn jerseys from NBA Finals. Each artifact is digitally segmented into cells using a grid system, where each cell is tied to the Ethereum blockchain. Grid Collection is the blueprint for businesses to expand their portfolio and capitalize on the NFT hype via the latest Web3 technologies.
We’re undergoing massive digital transformations in every facet of our lives. As businesses scramble to adapt to rapidly changing environments, the efficient use of the latest technologies is the difference between staying afloat and thriving. Web3, while not yet official, is already changing the way people interact online and consume information.
Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, one thing is for sure: Blockchain integration with AI will power the next version of the Internet. Now is the ideal time to become an early adopter and watch your business shape the future.