WEB 3.0. WHERE ARE WE?
End of year, time for predictions. There is a lot of buzz about Web 3.0 and how it will spread very soon, even if nobody can say when exactly and how and a definition itself of Web 3.0 is still missing. Neverthless, there are clear signals of convergence towards a new era, when different technologies will provide new answers to overcome the limits and risks that took place after the explosion of the current Web 2.0. In order to better understand the new scenarios, let’s look back and analyze the predecessors, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.
The Web 1.0, or World Wide Web, widespread since the nineties, was a network of static sites, with no possibility of interaction with users except the normal hypertext navigation between pages and search engines. There was no possibility of streaming audio or video, downloads were extremely slow, peer-to-peer communications were limited and passed through chat rooms, messengers, e-mails.
Around 2004, the transition from "observing" to "participating" marked the arrival of Web 2.0, namely the era of Social Media. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Wikipedia, TripAdvisor, blogs gave everyone the opportunity to express themselves, to feel part of communities, to participate. It was a democracy time but soon the limits and risks were discovered, and they were connected to the enormous value of all personal information put online. Few centralized services (Amazon, Facebook, Google) became the holders of an enormous amount of information, to the detriment of privacy and user safety.
The idea of Web 3.0 was born from these problems: a human-centered internet, a more secure, correct and transparent web, based on the idea of multiplying the profit centres by dividing the value, in an open network. The idea and the need began to spread already in 2006, but there were not the technologies yet to prefigure a real development. So what is Web 3.0? The most recent developments in the fields of AI, IoT, decentralized systems and advanced cryptography give us some suggestions on what awaits us.
Artificial Intelligence will allow us to better understand information and big data. More and more sophisticated algorithms will drive us in an increasingly crowded network. We will manage with the semantic web, contextual research, personalized research. However, the risks are very high, especially if few companies will devote considerable resources (economic and skills) to the most innovative projects. According to many researchers and scientists, decentralizing artificial intelligence and ensuring that it can be designed, developed and controlled by a large international network through open source programs is the most secure approach to democratize access to artificial intelligence, reducing risks of monopoly and thus solving ethical and security problems.
The Internet of Things (IoT) blends physical and virtual worlds into smart environments. Common objects such as vacuum cleaners, light bulbs and toasters are connected to the Internet with indisputable benefits in terms of convenience, but also opening up new technological challenges and implications related to privacy, security and interoperability of architectures. According to Cisco, by 2020 there will be 50 billion devices online. With so many connected objects, the amount of data passing through corporate and public networks will explode, with management costs that have not been equal in the past. Another issue is how exactly you will be able to monitor, manage and memorize billions of metadata in a reliable and secure way.
The blockchain, by its nature of decentralized architecture, is expected to provide an answer to the topic of security. The blockchain is a shared and immutable data structure, similar to a distributed database, managed by a network of nodes, each of which has a private copy of it. This technology can be used to track billions of connected devices, allowing the processing of the transactions they produce and the coordination between physical devices. This decentralized approach would eliminate the failure points of traditional networks, facilitating the creation of a more resilient ecosystem on which smart devices can operate. Moreover, the cryptographic algorithms used by the Blockchain would increase the protection of private consumer data.
Data contained in a blockchain are highly secure thanks to cryptography which is a cornerstone of all the blockchain architecture. The decentralized infrastructure would then become an optimal tool for authentication (contributing to the improvement of online services privacy) and payment (through the so-called cryptocurrencies). More generally, the blockchain opens new scenarios for storing and managing personal data, with many possible developments thanks to the artificial intelligence. Let’s consider, for example, our health data: these are extremely personal data but some information, for example the course of a disease or the results of a pharmacological treatment, could be extremely valuable for the improvement of diagnosis and treatment of diseases worldwide. Making these data available to an artificial intelligence system without exposing them to risks of security and privacy, thanks to the blockchain, could be an extremely interesting scenario.
A DEEP AND KIND CHANGE
In the future we can imagine a scenario where the information on the net is more and more agglomerated towards a single database, and consulted by multiple web pages thanks to XML, WSDL and derivative technologies. In appearance, this passage will be kind. Users will continue to use web browsers and will go to increasingly user-friendly interfaces. In the deep, however, it will bring a radical change in the infrastructure. According to many, it will be a much deeper change than the one generated by the web 2.0.
AN ONGOING REVOLUTION
The first services based on this decentralized infrastructure already exist. Two good examples are dTube, a sort of decentralized YouTube, and OpenBazaar, the decentralized alternative to eBay, both of which are based on one of the most promising protocols, IPFS. Giampietro Zago on Medium.com has prefigured which DAPPS (Decentralized Apps) in the near future will replace the apps we are used to:
Source: Matteo Gianpietro Zago - @matteozago
These are only a few examples. The 3.0 Web is an ongoing revolution and, even if still unpredictable, has certainly overcome the point of no return.
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