What is Web 3.0? Why should you care?

Have you ever woken up to an email saying your personal data got hacked? I bet that’s happened to you too and, sadly, there’s nothing we can do about it...yet. I definitely don’t want my special meal data to be out on the dark web (sigh).


This post shed light on the problem with the internet today (Web 2.0) and how blockchain technology is redefining the internet.

A Brief history of the internet

Do you know what the internet is? If not, I highly recommend this short video by Vox.


In short, whenever you type a URL into the web browser (let’s say www.nattariya.com), the web translates that data into bits (a string of zeros and ones) and transmits your query to open that website to your Wi-Fi router in radio waves. The router then picks up the signal and sends the query to the Domain Name System (DNS) to look up where www.nattariya.com is hosted so that they can fetch the data on that website and show it on your laptop.


If the data is hosted in another part of the world, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) will route your query over internet cables (yes, actual cables that go underwater) to get that data from the server somewhere in the world. Once the data is fetched, it will return the data to the ISP and the ISP will send it to your laptop the same way. And, all of this happens in split seconds!


The problems with the internet today: State & Security

In truth, your data is not actually stored on ‘the cloud’, but rather at data servers somewhere, and that data is owned by the applications that you’re using, rather than you. Typically, the applications would use data servers offered by ISP or some big tech companies, such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Big names promise big trust that they will be able to store and guard our data safely.


This leads to a major problem with the internet today: you have to trust that the applications and companies you’re dealing with will be able to safeguard your private data, and, more importantly, trust that they will not sell your data to the wrong people.


The reason why the internet has this problem today is because of 2 things:

1) The internet is a stateless protocol. It doesn’t know who owns what and who sends what to whom. The family of protocols that the internet is built on, such as TCP/IP for data transmission, SMTP for the transmission of emails, or HTTP for the transmission of Hypertext, regulates the transmission of data, but NOT how data is ‘stored’.


As a result, applications - such as Facebook, Youtube, and Google - are built on top of the protocols to store and manage data. Therefore, these applications record and manage the ‘state’ and hold valuable user data. This is why selling user data to advertisers is the most common business model for Web 2.0.


2) The internet was not designed with ‘security’ in mind, it was designed for transaction speed. Because data is stored and managed by centralized applications, the data on these servers is protected by firewalls, and system administrators are needed to manage these servers and their firewalls. Trying to manipulate data on a server resembles breaking into a house, where security is provided by a fence and an alarm system. If you know how to jump the fence and break the alarm, you can get the data easily.


The lack of security is an issue, as reflected by ransomware and data leaks: AT&T lost private data of 70 million users, Bangkok Airways faced a breach that took customers’ data including passport numbers. We have come to accept those limitations as part of our lives and can’t do anything about it.


How does blockchain fix the ‘state’ and ‘security’ problems?

The internet, or what we typically call Web 2.0, stores data on a client-server model. The data that you store or query is stored on a server owned by a centralized entity somewhere. Blockchain allows ‘state’ to be recorded and stored in a decentralized way.


Applications that are built on the blockchain will be able to utilize this ‘shared data layer’ which means that applications can no longer own or monetize user data. It also gives us availability, integrity and authenticity guarantee: we can always access data and no one can change the data. On the other hand, encryption technology enables data ownership as it allows data to be transferred in a secure way. For example, if A sends bitcoin to B. Only B will be able to access the bitcoin because he has a private key. This concept of sending and receiving value on the internet was not possible before because we lacked a worldwide ledger system (a.k.a. blockchains).


The recent breakthroughs in blockchain and encryption technology combined make it possible for us to transfer and store data differently.

For the first time in history, we have the ability to add ‘secure properties’ to the internet. If you want to steal data, you would need to break into multiple houses around the globe simultaneously, which each have their own fence and alarm system, in order to breach them. Web 3.0 is essentially a new way for individuals to use the Internet without giving up their privacy and valuable data.


Can we use blockchain today?

The most important challenge in blockchain today is scalability. Contrary to traditional computers, the capacity of blockchains does not grow with demand. When you're buying a new laptop, you're adding to the worldwide compute capacity. When you're running a blockchain node, you're not increasing the network capacity. This is a major issue. Compared to a laptop, Ethereum’s performance is only 10 Kilohertz, whereas your laptop can process as fast as 3-4 Gigahertz. For perspective, 1 GHz = 1000000 kHz. That’s right, your laptop is hundreds of thousands times more powerful than Ethereum and makes Ethereum look like a nice little calculator.


What use cases are suitable for blockchain technology?

Since blockchain, coupled with recent encryption and cryptography breakthroughs such as homomorphic encryption and zero-knowledge proofs, gives us secure computing, it makes sense to use it for use cases that require high integrity and security, e.g. financial services, first. In the future, once the technology scales, why not use the internet that comes with security guarantees for every transaction? In 20 years’ time, we’re going to expect everything to be secured. We’ll see those niche use cases expand as the network scales. It is likely that the security enabled by these new technologies will extend all the way to the hardware level.


You might not be using an iPhone but instead a ‘securePhone’ where your information remains yours.

How do you interact with Web 3.0?

In Web 2.0, Windows or iOS is a way to interact with programs developed by third party applications. You install an app, visit a website, or install a software and things happen on your device. In Web 3.0, the model is flipped on its head. Instead of many devices executing many instances of a software, the network itself operates a single and secure instance of an application.


Today, the most common way to interact with secure computers is through sending and receiving tokens, and the standard of interaction is ERC-20. So start trying out Web 3.0 today by downloading Metamask and sending tokens from your exchange wallet to Metamask wallet.


Welcome to the age of Web 3.0!



This post is inspired by Guillaume Le Saint who’s building a secure computing operating system at Atato. Listen to our podcast on Web 3.0 and how Atato is developing solutions for businesses and individuals to interact with Web 3.0 at Asian Fintech Podcast.


Atato is building tools that let people interact with secure computing. Aimed to create a user interface layer, think of it as an operating system for interacting with Web 3.0, it is creating a custody solution that allows people to store and transact tokens securely. As more applications use secure computing, and new standards emerge, Atato will support other use cases. Check out https://www.securecompute.org to join the community and https://www.atato.com to learn more.


Reference:

https://ethereum.org/en/developers/docs/web2-vs-web3/

https://medium.com/@VitalikButerin/the-meaning-of-decentralization-a0c92b76a274

https://blockchainhub.net/web3-decentralized-web/

https://etekisalp.com/understanding-web-3-a-user-controlled-internet/


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