If you read tech journalism you’ll probably hear the fuzzy term web3 bandied about in the press. Sprinkled around all these articles are all manner of idealistic and utopian ideas about how we can rebuild the internet to reflect our aspirations of a more humane and egalitarian society. However the journalists never quite drill down into the details on the mechanisms of how the internet will be remade. Because after all tech writers are in the storytelling business and a myth about the rebirth of cyberspace makes for a ripping yarn far more than mundane skepticism of a hyped technology.
The author lists interesting counter narratives – the issues around computing/bandwidth and storage. I’d list only the compute issue.
On a compute basis, blockchain networks don’t scale except by becoming the very same plutocratic and centralized systems they allegedly were designed to replace. There is an absurd cost to trying to do censorship resistant computation. In this regime there is a hard incentive to minimize program execution time because the entire network is forced to recompute every single program as part of it’s insanely wasteful process of attempting to reach consensus about a giant global state machine. This inevitably drives the cost per program instruction into the stratosphere. The Ethereum virtual machine has the equivalent computational power of an Atari 2600 from the 1970s except it runs on casino chips that cost $500 a pop and every few minutes we have to reload it like a slot machine to buy a few more cycles. That anyone could consider this to be the computational backbone to the new global internet is beyond laughable. We’ve gone from the world of abundance in cloud computing where the cost of compute time per person was nearly at post-scarcity levels, to the reverse of trying to enforce artificial scarcity on the most abundant resource humanity has ever created. This is regression, not progress.emphasis mine
I am not “excited” about the NFT’s or the cryptocurrency, which will eventually be regulated and dialled down. Although I believe the entire web 3.0 move towards decentralisation will eventually “mature” and scale up, wherein inherent value will come through network effects. It challenges the fundamental principles of monetary exchange (which are fuzzy at best), but is backed by sovereign guarantees that allow commerce to work.
It’s impact on healthcare remains minimal.