By Alison Alexander, Social Policy Director, Charity Board Director
What do our physical world, Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 have in common? Does Web 3.0 offer a solution?
I’m sure if we were having a virtual meeting and everyone was dropping their answers into the chatbox they would all be different.
The difference would be due to the fact that, despite appearing similar, each person’s life is unique to each of them. In that way, our physical life experience could be seen as similar to a Non-Fungible Token (NFT)! Because, whilst one NFT might look like another NFT, we all know NFTs are entirely individual, with their own digital code, just like our lives!
So how would I answer the question? Well, my unique life experience, like many across the globe, has included abuse, disruption, trauma and disadvantage. Additionally, I come from a low social-economic background. Putting all this uniqueness together, the lens through which I see the world could be negative but, in fact, I’m an optimist and thanks to that I have dedicated myself for three decades to positively changing people’s lives.
Three months ago a friend invited me to join his Web3 venture. My response was “What is Web 3.0”?. His response excited me. Three months on, I’m still on a journey of discovery! I’ve learnt what cryptocurrencies are, how to buy and store (or HODL them); what is Blockchain, and how it operates; what is an NFT, how does one mint NFTs, what are ‘gas fees’ and why do NFT have gas fees…. I have understood why someone would want a virtual pair of trainers, outfit or piece of land, and now I know how to buy and store them. I even also know what a DAO is.
Sorry. I got distracted and haven’t answered my own question – perhaps everyone has sometimes done this: disappearing down a rabbit hole whilst talking about Web3… –. My answer is simple. What our physical world, Web 1.0 and 2.0 have in common is the existence and continued growth of inequalities. And Web 3.0 is a great opportunity to secure that equitable human-centric and inclusive world we desire.
How? Through the infrastructure within the Metaverse. Among other examples:, (i) Blockchain provides for self-sovereign identity, removing the need to depend on national governments to confirm
our existence –; (ii) wallets allow us to hold money and carry it across borders independent of private companies and governments; and (iii) DAOs allow us to join communities of like-minded individuals, with equal voting rights, to determine what should happen and how should it happen. All these are examples of how intermediaries are being removed so that interactions between persons become direct. This allows startups to recruit individuals that can craft and build virtual environments, bring communities together in DAOs, build partnerships across industry and make companies and products attractive in the Metaverse. They are doing this regardless of where you live, what your socioeconomic background is, where you went to school, who you know, what your gender, ethnicity, ability, or status are or any other criteria (economic or social) that have been standing in the way of equality for centuries. In other words, Web 3.0 can turn around the economic position of individuals and the economies of our physical world.
A final thought: I’m often asked what I’m doing now, mainly by people of my age. When I describe the venture I notice some glaze over with confusion (who wouldn’t when I start talking about Metaverse?), but many more just share their view that the virtual world is not the real world, our physical world. That makes me remember that I am mainly talking with a generation who need to hear rather than the nature of the venture, the fact that I have a dream and I’m trying to fulfil it (what I have been doing all my life). That dream is securing an equitable human-centric and inclusive world and Web 3.0 provides us with the tools to achieve it. Generation Z and Alpha use Web 3.0 daily and they don’t see a difference between their ‘real’ and their virtual worlds – they are already one to them – and people of my age are only just starting to acclimatise to Web3. We are not different.
As humanity, our collective role is to not be afraid of advances in technology; instead, use our experience and positions of power to smooth the way for the change to occur. We have been given a gift and it is our duty to utilise it to eliminate inequalities. So a time for thinking and acting big.