By Ryan Matters
There is a willingness in this world for people to adopt new things because they are told to do so. There is also a willingness for people to sit back and let the course of human evolution be decided for them.
Activist Post –
Who said that merging with AI is inevitable? It’s only inevitable if we decide to do it. If we made a collective decision to start picking berries and hunting deer with bows and arrows, we could do that, too.
The idea of inevitability has been programmed into us. It’s form of brainwashing. Nonetheless, as a society, we are on the precipice of a revolution – a change so big that it could irreversibly alter the very structure of human society and the way we form relationships, as well as completely redefine the nature of transaction and exchange.
Yes, I’m talking about the “metaverse”, the blockchain, decentralised cryptocurrencies, and the thing that started it all – Bitcoin.
But to understand how all of these things fit together, it’s necessary to first examine “Web 3.0” – what it is, how it’s being marketed and how it will affect us.
Web 3.0: The Next Iteration of the Internet
Unless you work in tech you’ve probably never heard the term “Web 3.0” before (also written as “web3”).
To understand web3, a quick history lesson is in order: When the internet was first made available it was “read-only”, in other words, it made information available to the public but in static format; regular people did not have the know-how to publish new content, as this required technical expertise and deep knowledge of code. This initial form of the internet, we will call “web1”.
The next iteration of the internet, which we experience today, allows regular users to both read content and publish it. With “web2”, the internet became interactive, paving the way for the creation of social networks, allowing users to connect and create.
The problem with web2 is that information is controlled by central authorities that collect and productise it. In exchange for the ability to create, we’ve allowed large corporations to establish ownership over our personal data.
That brings us to “web3” which seeks to solve the problems created by web2 while also providing the infrastructure for new, disruptive technologies.
The idea is that “Web3” will be:
- Decentralised (i.e., no organisations will control your data);
- Permissionless (anyone may access the network);
- Uncensorable (content that’s been published cannot be altered or removed);
- Monetisable (creators can be paid for the value they create, without a middleman);
- Private (identity is encrypted and anonymity is optional).
Sounds good, but how will this be achieved? The idea is that the internet will be rebuilt so as to restructure it around blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
You see, money is an age-old medium of exchange that has been in use for centuries. In fact, the concept of money hasn’t changed much over time, although it may be physically different than it was in the past. But up until now, money has been absent as a protocol that forms part of the internet.
This will change with web3. The idea is that by integrating money into the structure of the internet itself, we can rid the online world of invasive advertising that relies on the mass collection of private data as well as shatter the power of authoritative, big tech monopolies.
“Web3” will see the internet undergo a massive restructuring, and it will be built on the following 4 “layers”:
1. The Blockchain (the Base Layer)
Underlying everything on web3 is the blockchain: a shared ledger run by a decentralised network of peer-to-peer nodes (the same technology that powers Bitcoin and Ethereum).
The blockchain is not owned or controlled by anyone and it cannot be found on a single server. Rather, copies of the blockchain are stored across thousands of participants on the network. Think of it like a decentralised database of transactions.
However, in order to maintain consistency, security and objectivity, each node (participant) much reach an agreement about the network’s current state. This agreement is achieved algorithmically using a consensus mechanism, such as proof-of-work or proof-of-stake.
Proof-of-work (PoW) is done by “miners”, who compete to verify new transactions and add them to the chain as “blocks” (hence, blockchain). The winner shares the new block with the rest of the network and earns cryptocurrency as a reward. The race is won by the computer which is able to solve a math puzzle fastest – this produces the cryptographic link between the current block and the block that went before. Solving this puzzle is the “work” in “proof-of-work”.
Proof-of-stake (PoS) is done by validators who have staked their own cryptocurrency to participate in the network. A validator is chosen at random to verify transactions and create new blocks. They then share them with the rest of the network and earn rewards. Instead of needing to do intense computational work, validators put up cryptocurrency as collateral for agreeing to strengthen the chain. This is what incentivises healthy network behaviour.
In order to defraud such a system you’d either need to control 51% of the computational power of the entire network (in the case of PoW), or you’d need to own 51% of the total staked cryptocurrency (in the case of PoS). This makes the system “trustless”, in that the cost of manipulating the system would outweigh any benefit gained by doing so.
The final thing to understand about the blockchain is that it’s a public ledger; in other words, anyone can view it and see the transaction history of the entire network. However, in order to write to the blockchain, you need to transact, i.e., you need to pay. And that’s where cryptocurrency comes in.
2. Decentralised infrastructure
The second “layer” of web3 is the infrastructure that sits on top of the blockchain. You see, the blockchain enables the creation of decentralised infrastructure, and this will form the backbone of the digital, web3 ecosystem. This includes decentralised storage, exchanges, communication systems, social networks and more.
3. New ways to engage
Web3 infrastructure leads to new use cases for the internet. In other words, there will be new ways for people to engage with one another, earn money online and entertain themselves. This includes the creation and selling of “NFTs”, new ways to conduct commerce, decentralised communities, gaming, and yes, the “metaverse”.
A quick word is needed about NFTs. NFT stands for “Non-fungible token” (i.e., something that’s one-of-a-kind); they are basically digital collectibles that are stamped onto the blockchain. They can also represent real-world items (this is important). The introduction of NFTs has resulted in jpegs of apes being worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
People have even begun to mint real-life animals as tradable NFTs (I’ll let you mull over the significance of that yourself). In short, NFTs will form the basis for ownership in the metaverse (of which more soon).
The final “layer” of web3 will be the access layers, which are the means by which participants will access the system. Right now, we experience the internet through applications and websites. With web3, users will access the internet using these same means together with decentralised apps and crypto wallets.
With web3 comes a strange dichotomy between freedom and enslavement. On the one hand, it could lead to a free internet, ungoverned by authorities, and uncensorable, where everyone has the ability to transact freely, without the need for third parties.
On the other hand, many people that promote web3 as being an uncensorable utopia are the same people promoting “programmable” currencies and the “metaverse” – two concepts utterly adverse to the notion of a free society.
After all, for a currency to be “programmable”, somebody must be doing the programming. This brings us back to the promotion of CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) and what researcher James Corbett refers to as “the Bitcoin PsyOp”; i.e., promotion of the idea that cryptocurrencies and blockchains are all created equal (they’re not!).
Like most things in life, the effect that web3 will have on society will depend on how we use it. In my mind, web3 has the potential to grant freedom or enslave us all. If implemented in the right way, it may well be the globalist kryptonite. On the other hand, it may also be used by the very same elites to construct a digital dictatorship.
We only need to look at the organisations investing in web3 to know that it’s not all sunshines and rainbows: Facebook is investing in digital wallets with “Novi”, MasterCard are planning to support crypto transactions and Blackrock is now trading Bitcoin futures… that doesn’t exactly fill you with hope about the future of crypto, does it?
And while there are many examples of web3 initiatives that would have you clapping your hands and pumping your fists in support, there are an equal number of such projects that would have you hanging your head in despair or slamming your palm squarely into your forehead as you shudder with disgust.
For example, there are a number of web3 projects seeking to unite the seemingly disparate world’s of crypto and climate. The idea? By tokenising carbon credits, i.e., bringing them onto the blockchain, and thereby removing them from the market, the real-world carbon price inflates, incentivising corporations to adopt “greener” practices. This is one such example of how web3 and climate are uniting to help drive the creation of new (scammy) markets.
There are more examples but this is not the place for a deep dive into the murky waters of crypto-environmentalism. Rather, we will turn our attention to an equally worrying offshoot of web3, one that is being actively driven by one of the most evil and powerful organizations in the world: Facebook’s “Metaverse”.
What Is the Metaverse?
The term “metaverse” was first used by futurist and science-fiction writer, Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash to describe a “theoretical” 3D virtual reality that ordinary people could occupy.
Noteworthy is that Stephenson worked at Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company, Blue Origin, for seven years during the early 2000s when the company’s focus was on developing “alternate” propulsion systems (an interesting job for a novelist, wouldn’t you agree?). He was later hired by Magic Leap, a Florida-based “augmented reality” company, but left in 2020.
A deeper look at Stephenson’s work reveals some interesting themes; the list of topics explored in his books reads like the meeting agenda from a closed session at Davos: climate change, global pandemics, biological warfare, nanotechnology, geo-engineering, robotics, cryptography, virtual reality, the list goes on.
In fact, not only has Stephenson written about the “metaverse” before it became a thing, but some people even credit his 1999 book Cryptonomicon with sketching the basis for the concept of cryptocurrency!
Like certain science-fiction writers before him, Stephenson is clearly privy to more than he lets on. And his close relationships with billionaire technocrats like Bezos and Gates only fuel my suspicions that he’s not merely a novelist with a good imagination and an uncanny knack for predicting the future.
But alas, we must return to the topic at hand – the metaverse, a virtual world where
you can go about many of your everyday life’s day-to-day interactions and occurrences – in your avatar form. This form can be a human, animal, or something more abstract with its customizable appearance.
Yes, that’s right. You can be whatever you want to be. Your avatar (a word popularised by Stephenson!) could be a boy, girl, dog, buffalo, toaster – anything you like!
You can then interact with other people’s avatars in this virtual world. In the Metaverse, you can buy and sell land, attend concerts and go to museums, build a house, and more.
As the work of Neal Stephenson shows, the “metaverse” is not a new idea. The concept has been gradually leaked into mainstream culture over the last twenty plus years. Just think of video games like Second Life and movies like The Matrix or Ready Player One.
It was only last year (2021) that Facebook rebranded as “meta”, positioning itself for a future in which it will play a leading role in developing the infrastructure to realise the metaverse.
Still not sure how this all fits together? Simple: With a virtual world like the “metaverse” comes virtual money and virtual goods, i.e., cryptocurrency and NFTs. Without cryptocurrency, the metaverse would not be possible.
The Meta-Economy: Will it Truly be Decentralised?
Web3 itself has the potential to drastically overhaul the global economy in many ways, one of which is through the adoption of truly decentralised currencies as an alternative to central bank issued money-as-debt.