What is your assessment of Web3? Is it “the road is obstructive and long”, or “will this web3 be good?”
Last weekend, Moxie Marlinspike, founder of the well-known encrypted messaging app Signal, published an article titled ” My first impressions of web3 ” (Chinese version: Signal founder: After developing two dApps, I found that Web3 may be a Pseudo-proposition ), which caused a heated discussion in the encryption circle. It is reported that Moxie conducted in-depth research after developing two decentralized applications and creating NFT works that were deleted by Opensea.
He found that Metamask did not actually show the contents of his account on the Ethereum blockchain. Instead, the wallet app relies on the Opensea API to check which NFTs are associated with which blockchain accounts.
This result reminded Moxie of “Web 2,” stating that Web3 will not free us from centralized platforms, nor will web3 fundamentally change our relationship with technology.
As for why so many people are excited about it, Moxie says that web3 is at least nerdy-level new — creating a space for creativity/exploration reminiscent of the early days of the internet. But ironically, part of this creativity may stem from the limitations that make web3 so unwieldy.
In this regard, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, Facebook engineer and Dropbox’s CTO Aditya Agarwal, and columnist Dror Poleg of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and other publications expressed their views. The following is a compilation of related content.
<span “helvetica=”” 18px;”=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=””>Buterin: The most cutting-edge encryption technology is being researched, and Moxie does not get it
In the context of blockchain, the word “server” is not very useful; it brings together concepts that are best handled separately. In particular, think of the following ways that users can connect to the blockchain:
- Use a Binance account.
- Run a piece of code that asks what is the blockchain state of the Infura API endpoint, and trust the answer. However, the key is still kept locally; the code signs the transaction locally and sends it to the Infura API endpoint for rebroadcasting.
- Same as 2, but the code also runs a light client to verify the signature of block headers and uses Merkle proofs to verify individual accounts and store data.
- Same as 3, but the code talks to N different API endpoints run by N different companies, so only one of them needs to provide an honest answer for the connection to be reliable.
- Same as 4, but instead of pre-specifying N API endpoints, the code connects directly to a P2P network.
- Same as 5, but the code also does data availability sampling and accepts fraud proofs, so it can detect and reject invalid blocks.
- Run a fully verified node.
- Run a fully validating node while participating in mining/staking.
Currently, only 1, 2, 7 and 8 are feasible, and 7 and 8 are too expensive for most users. In fact, the whole reason blockchain is the decentralized future and self-hosting isn’t is that running a 24/7 online server is even harder than 8 [if your staking node is only online 95% of the time, great; if Your website is only online 95% of the time, then this can cause serious annoyance to your users! ]
Moxie’s critiques in the second half of the post make me feel like the critiques of the current state of the ecosystem are right (where 1, 2, 7 and 8 are the only things we have working code for), but they miss out on the evolution of the blockchain ecosystem direction. There are already teams working on achieving 3, 4, 5, and actively working on how to achieve 6.
These efforts, contrary to Moxie’s claim that cryptography is rarely involved (which is true for most of what happens today!), are largely based on some of the most cutting-edge and advanced cryptography. Verkle trees, EVM’s ZK-SNARKs, BLS signature aggregation, and more.
As for my theory about “why this hasn’t been posted yet”, I’d say it’s largely down to limited technical resources and funding. It’s easier to build things in a lazy centralized way, while it takes serious effort to “get it right”. The Ethereum ecosystem didn’t have that many resources until ~4 years ago.
Of course, ~4 years ago, the ecosystem did start to have a lot of resources, but new projects were slow to start, and the centralized approach to work had a head start for years.
One thing that makes the climb slower is the dependency chain: in order to have light clients, we need to have a light client friendly chain, which is a deep change to the protocol, so the only realistic chance is to switch to PoS, and We have only now arrived at the time to have PoS, the full integration of the merger is coming.
Luckily, these dependencies are being tackled and resolved one by one, and there has been a lot of progress! Once the generic hard work is done by a few dedicated teams, building trustless applications will become more feasible for all development teams who just need to plug in these libraries.
So I think a properly authenticated world of decentralized blockchains is on the horizon, and closer than many people think. Of course, it’s always possible that all of these technologies will be built, and many people won’t care.
But I am more optimistic. Users generally accept defaults given by developers, and many developers do really care about decentralization and trustlessness (and the growing legal issues of running a centralized trustpoint will make them even more concerned).
Decentralized options that users reject today (e.g., running a full node) are indeed quite difficult today, so it is understandable that users insist on more centralized options, at least they can easily use them. None of the suggestions listed here are that difficult, and even running a full node itself will become easier and cheaper over time as ideas like statelessness and history expiration come into play.
So I see no technical reason why the future needs to look like the status quo today.
Facebook engineer: Don’t focus on trying to predict, it’s much more fun to build<strong “helvetica=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=”” x-large;”=””>
Moxie made a great blog post about his observations on Web3 that got me thinking about some fundamental questions about centralization, protocols, platforms, and finally our ability to predict things in this space.
An interesting framing in the post is the relationship of ‘protocol’ to ‘platform’. In short, protocols are difficult and slow to develop. There’s no disputing this, but I also think that everyone’s mental model of ‘protocol’ is the current protocol like HTTP, SMTP, etc. All of these protocols are *stateless*. This has always been the accepted (and often correct) protocol design pattern.
For web3, the big difference is that they are stateful protocols. In this sense, I don’t think the rate at which the protocol evolves is really the correct mental model. If state is universally accessible, it is easier to remix and orchestrate.
There aren’t many examples of such a ‘protocol’ yet, which is why it’s not surprising that we’re all unsure how to compare it to traditional models.
More broadly, I think there are a lot of ‘technological determinism’ oriented comments on web3. For example, web3 leads to certain points of centralization (example: Alchemy, OpenSea), so it does not satisfy the utopian goal of complete decentralization, etc.
I find this review somewhat naive as it ignores how technology is ultimately woven into next-generation products. Most things don’t come cleanly in one world or the other. It will be messy. Things will feel like they cross ideological boundaries.
The future is here, but it’s unevenly distributed, just capturing some of it. More likely, the future will be intertwined with the past for a long time to come. It’s basically the same conversations we’ve seen around autonomy, AI, SaaS, etc.
The world is too complex to attempt to predict in any form. Instead, I tend to think about whether the underlying idea is useful and can be used. In this sense, blockchains, NFTs, DAOs, Defis, etc. are super interesting constructs that will be used to create interesting things.
Don’t focus on trying to predict. Building is much more fun.
<span “helvetica=”” 18px;”=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=””>“Wall Street Journal” columnist Dror Poleg: I don’t believe that web3 will be more just and free
Crypto is interesting because of the freedom it brings, not the freedom users currently care about. (in response to Moxie)
<span “helvetica=”” arial,=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;”=””>The story of the Hungarian sausage<span “helvetica=”” arial,=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;”=””>
“Jews, Germans and oil are our best exports,” dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu boasted in the 1970s. He was talking about my grandmother, my father and my uncle.
Some people like to live in the Romanian Socialist Republic, but my grandmother didn’t. After surviving Auschwitz, she wanted to give her children something better than anti-Semitism. But she couldn’t just pack up and leave. Someone has to buy her.
From 1945, Romania collected more than $100 million in cash and other goods in exchange for Jews. As Zahra Tara recounts in The Great Departure:
“The exchange of Romanian Jews for money and agricultural products began secretly after World War II. A Jewish businessman in London named Henry Jacober acted as a middleman between Western private individuals and Romanian secret services. Jacober filled cash with A briefcase, usually $4,000 to $6,000 per immigrant (depending on the age and educational status of the individual), in exchange for an exit permit to travel to the West.
When Israeli intelligence officials learned of the deals, and with the approval of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, they decided to join the program. At Khrushchev’s insistence, the Romanians began to demand agricultural products instead of cash.
Soon Romanian Jews were being traded for everything from cows and pigs to chicken farms and cornflake factories… The price of leaving the country according to the immigrant’s age, education, occupation, family status and political importance Can reach $50,000′.
In 1962, my grandmother, father and uncle managed to get an exit visa and board a plane to Rome. They were only allowed to bring clothes, sheets and food from the trip. Everything else – property, appliances, jewellery, books, even photos – must remain in Romania.
To kickstart the family’s fortune in the New World, my father and uncle brought some Hungarian sausages. They heard a rumor that Italians were generous with this rare delicacy. But this rumor is wrong. After running the streets of Naples for a few days without finding generous customers, my father and uncle threw away the sausages and boarded a boat to Israel.
Most of the time, being able to pack up and leave doesn’t matter to most people. But when it happens, it matters a lot.
The recent discussion about the promises and limitations of cryptocurrencies/Web3 got me thinking about those Hungarian sausages. Our current predicament seems comical in light of the tragedy of history. But they can end up having a big impact.
In 2022, the brightest minds in the world are arguing over digital tokens, monkey JPEGs and Super Bowl ads. Last week, the Financial Times quoted my review of a shoddy ad starring Matt Damon, while The Guardian ran an article on why Boring Ape NFTs are practically worthless.
A more substantial contribution to the debate about the future of the internet comes from Moxie Marlinspike, founder of private messaging app Signal. Moxie shared his “first impressions of web3” in a blog post .
The bottleneck of decentralization<strong “helvetica=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=”” x-large;”=””>
The vision of web3 is admirable. But Moxie set out to understand how decentralized “sausages” are made in practice. However, this did not impress him.
Moxie’s first concern is that Web3 is not as decentralized as it claims to be. In this case, access to web3’s basic infrastructure (the Ethereum blockchain) ends up being through several popular API providers. So even though the blockchain itself is decentralized, most applications that rely on it still go through the bottleneck of centralization and are run by private, for-profit entities.
As an analogy, say a person buys a piece of gold and stores it in a keyed vault down the hill maintained by a Swiss bank. When the person logs into the bank’s app to check his gold balance, the app doesn’t send someone into the vault to check how much gold is there or if someone has tampered with the vault’s keys.
Instead, it simply displays data from a third-party database that records the inflow and outflow of gold bars across the mountain. So the client gets the most up-to-date information, but it doesn’t get the direct, indisputable truth.
Banks do this because maintaining a central database of all deposits and remittances on the mountain is much easier than sending someone to check in person every time a customer logs into the app. Ethereum-based applications use API providers for the same reason: it is easier and simpler for them to do so than verifying each query itself on the blockchain.
This choice of expediency over decentralization is bad in some use cases and harmless in others. The problems Moxie raises are well known, and Ethereum developers have spoken about and written about them publicly , and are working on ways to mitigate them. And I’ve also written about how each wave of decentralization produces a wave of centralization at the same time.
However, Moxie ignores (or fails to mention) an essential difference between these issues and what is currently happening in Web 2.0. We’ll discuss this in a minute. But first, let’s look at Moxie’s second concern.
<span “helvetica=”” 18px;”=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=””>no benefit
After trying to build a decentralized application and encountering a centralized API, Moxie created an NFT and went live on OpenSea, the most popular NFT marketplace.
NFTs are an important example of web3’s commitment to liberating users from a powerful platform. Even though NFTs can be created and go live on platforms like OpenSea, they are not stored on those platforms. When you create or buy an NFT, that action is recorded on the blockchain itself.
This means that you can buy an NFT on one platform and then ‘take it’ to a different platform, or sell it to someone else without their permission. You can use a cryptocurrency wallet like Metamask or Rainbow to access all your funds and assets on the blockchain without having to log into any particular platform.
This may sound nonsense. Why would anyone want to buy and sell tokens that give ownership of digital goods? But when you consider that in 2021 humans will spend more than $60 billion in games, or $13 billion on digital music streaming, or $22 billion on digital art — you start to see a The value of digitally native ownership systems.
In Web 2.0, you can buy a movie on Amazon Prime, or a song on Apple Music, but if you decide to leave the platform (or get kicked out), you lose access to those assets. The goal of NFTs is to enable users to own their stuff directly, take it away, and shift power away from platforms and companies.
But that’s not Moxie’s experience.
<span “helvetica=”” 18px;”=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=””>Who moved my JPEG?
Moxie created an NFT on OpenSea and deliberately programmed the manifest to look different on different platforms (by loading different images, depending on the IP of the requesting website).
Initially, he could see the NFT in his cryptocurrency wallet, meaning his ownership of it was recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. However, a few days later, OpenSea decided to remove his NFT from their marketplace, claiming that Moxie violated their terms of service (due to the code changing what users see).
Technically, there shouldn’t be a problem with the fact that OpenSea decided to remove NFTs from their marketplace. Moxie still owns it, and that ownership is independent of OpenSea, recorded on the blockchain itself. But when Moxie checked his cryptocurrency wallet app, he found that the NFT had disappeared. How is this possible?
Moxie digs deeper and finds that the wallet app he uses (Metamask) doesn’t actually show the contents of his account on the Ethereum blockchain. Instead, his wallet app relies on an API to check which NFTs are associated with which blockchain accounts, and that API is the OpenSea API! Since Moxie’s NFTs have been removed from OpenSea, this API shows that it no longer exists.
It feels like a re-enactment of Web 2.0. A powerful platform successfully confiscated/deleted data and assets from his account without the user’s consent.
However, there is an essential difference between what happens to Moxie and what happens when a Web 2.0 platform decides to delete a user’s file or list.
If Moxie checks the status of his NFTs directly on the blockchain using a different application, he can see that the NFTs are still there. In fact, you can also see that NFT on OpenSea’s competitor Rarible. Going back to our previous analogy, the gold bar is still inside the vault, inside the mountain, even though the bank’s app doesn’t show it.
Of course, it’s a problem that popular wallet apps don’t show what’s in people’s accounts (though they’re still there). But the good news is that although OpenSea removed Moxie’s NFT, that NFT ‘survived’ and is still in its place. I’m pretty sure Moxie ends up making a lot of money when someone buys it as a souvenir of the whole event. And I have already bid.
postscript<strong “helvetica=”” arial,=”” font-size:=”” helvetica,=”” neue”,=”” open=”” sans”,=”” sans-serif;=”” x-large;”=””>
Unlike my father, if I need to move, I can take most of my assets and cash-generating business with me. If the US decides to kick me out (or sell me back to Romania!), I can keep making money as long as I have access to my Twitter, Gmail, Maven and Stripe accounts. The biggest threat to my livelihood is not losing my citizenship; it’s losing access to my accounts on multiple platforms.
Crypto and web3 promise to increase my freedom to switch between the platforms I rely on and my likelihood of surviving hostilities on one of those platforms. This promise is currently only partially fulfilled, and may never be fully fulfilled.
Unlike some, I don’t believe web3 is any more just or fair, or even more liberal by default. But I do believe it offers the possibility of increasing our freedom and agency. And, based on general and personal history, the possibility was enough to pique my curiosity and gain my support.
For most users, the freedom to pack and move your digital assets and identity doesn’t matter. But it might be important one day, and when it does, it will be very important.
There is still a lot of work to be done along the way. Glad you could join, Moxie.
So, what is your assessment of Web3? Is it “the road is long and difficult”, or “will this web3 be good”.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/about-web3-may-be-a-false-proposition-v-god-and-others-have-something-to-say/
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