Last week, I (the original author of this article) read Jaron Lanier’s book Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters with Reality and Virtual Reality and had two thoughts: 1. He There’s a platonic beauty to the pronunciation of the name 2. Small decisions made early in the development of important technologies can drastically change the world decades later. Lanier, who has been at the forefront of computer science and technology research since the 1980s, cites several examples in his book of how the small choices made in that era can have a huge impact today.
The first example is a discussion about the need for “postage” in the early days of e-mail. The amount required for postage is small, less than a cent, but that cent is still a threshold and provides a layer of traceability. The decision to keep email free in the end, largely because even “trivial” postage would limit access to some of the world’s poorest people, was a legitimate objection and probably the right decision. But it has some downsides, it makes anonymous fraud easier, and it contributes to the phenomenon of spam. Imagine we could have lived in a timeline with no “spam” and less potential for email fraud.
Similarly, imagine if a hyperlink worked “both ways” and people could trace its origin based on incoming traffic. That’s exactly what Ted Nelson envisioned, who coined the term “hypertext” in 1963. But when Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web standards were widely adopted in the early 1990s, the use of one-way links was permanently fixed. Like decisions about email, seemingly small design choices have wide-ranging consequences. Although more difficult to set up, “two-way links” will preserve context, a small and simple change in the way information is stored online, and Nelson has also designed micropayments to compensate when someone else uses the content in the link author. Now, we now have a fast-growing internet, but with that comes a lack of belonging, responsibility, or honor.
Today, many in the Metaverse and Web3 community feel similar to what Lanier had in the ’90s. Every choice we make affects, and even defines, a range of technologies for this era. No matter how insignificant they may seem now, over time, they can end up making a huge difference. It’s like steering a boat and turning it only a few degrees to the left or right, but in thousands of miles of open water, that tiny change in heading will also take you to a completely different place.This makes it all the more important to assess where things are going now.
When looking in the direction it is now pointing, I see that we have reached the waters called “anarcho-capitalism”. This may not be a term everyone is familiar with, Wikipedia defines it as “a political philosophy that advocates the elimination of centralization in favor of a system of private property enforced by private institutions, free markets, and a right-wing liberal interpretation of self-ownership, It extends control over private property as part of the self.”
Let’s break down this longer definition and discuss their connection to the Metaverse. If this is indeed what we are building, it is worth considering its impact and whether this is really what we want in the future.
Part 1: “A Political Philosophy Advocating the Elimination of Centralization…”
To be sure, one of the spirits permeating Web3 is against centralization. This is also the result of the “cypherpunk movement” (note: not cyberpunk), from which both Bitcoin and Web3 came. Cypherpunks, who categorize themselves as anarchists or libertarians, broadly advocate for privacy, digital freedom, and the redistribution of power to large, influential organizations: especially state organizations. In addition to their writing and philosophical thinking, they have actually developed the technology to realize their vision, bringing us BitTorrent, advances in cryptography, distributed ledgers, WikiLeaks, and more. Developments from these technologies to smart contracts and DAOs all herald the cypherpunks’ desire to allow people to ensure that they are bound by transparent rules (which may mean what they want), rather than by someone else. At the mercy of some powerful people (autocratic individuals or oligarchs).
This even takes Web3 beyond the traditional anarcho-capitalist stance. The norm of the Metaverse is not only to decentralize state power, but to decentralize any form of organization within its purview. In a sense, the Metaverse is not only advocating the elimination of “centralization,” but it is also moving in the direction of eliminating centralization itself.
Part 2: “…support for private property systems administered by private institutions, free markets…”
The Metaverse consists mostly of private property. But in fact, there are still aspects that could be considered “commons” and these would be things that anyone would have access to, but not the property of the “state”. In the context of the Metaverse, these could be roads, central areas, hubs between worlds, respawn points, etc. However, these represent a divergence from pure anarcho-capitalism. Most anarcho-capitalists reject the commons altogether, arguing that basically everything should be privately owned.
As for who will “run” the Metaverse system, this is also a difficult question to solve. I think the best answer may be code, but it sets some standards, but doesn’t actually judge and adjudicate problems in the Metaverse. Some platforms do enforce their own terms of service, but the options for feedback are very limited. In practice, the market is almost free, and individual actions are both unregulated and anonymized. So, it’s hard to say that the market has any of the “enforcement” powers described in the Wikipedia definition. It’s a close game, but there’s a lot more to build.
Part 3: “…and a right-wing liberal interpretation of self-ownership, which extends the control of private property as part of the self.”
In “right-wing liberalism,” a political-philosophical term closely associated with anarcho-capitalism, property is seen as an extension of the self. This is deeply felt in the Metaverse, after all, your identity in the Metaverse is usually the same thing as your digital asset collection (or wallet). What you have is attached to your virtual identity, which is, in a sense, attached to yourself.
In addition, “physical presence” (or the physical image that is manifested) can also be commodified, bought, sold and traded. Unique in human history, you can trade your Metaverse “body” like a car or a hat, which is fascinating. As for this extension of the definition, no environment can be more real than the Metaverse.
When breaking down the definition of “anarcho-capitalism” and comparing it to the actual situation on Web3, the result is obvious, although the concept (or definition) of actual and anarcho-capitalism is not exactly the same, but I believe it is close enough, I’m glad we’re heading towards it.
It is also important to understand what it means to move forward, as the pros and cons in anarcho-capitalism still need to be further balanced.
Under anarcho-capitalism, anything you like or hate is amplified. A free market system with minimal intervention also means no restrictions. There is almost zero regulation on Web3 right now, and we’re seeing a lot of ups and downs, Rug, and confusion. Any capitalist system goes through cycles of boom and bust, but without oversight and control, this is only more unstable. You can be a millionaire in a few months or be destroyed in a few days.
The liquidity and profitability of digital currencies is unprecedented, and this efficiency has created the insane growth of crypto and NFTs. On a subjective level, innovation in this space can feel like you can’t keep up, and you spend a whole day on Twitter and still miss a lot. Web3 inspires us and leaves us in awe when the next new idea comes along, all thanks to the soil that nurtured it: the environment of freedom.
Based on profit and code, we are used to trusting the market to serve us and create positive outcomes. But ironically, there is a tendency in liberal circles to deify the market, and they talk about it as if it can do nothing wrong and is incredibly powerful. But it’s really stupid because nothing is perfect.
What needs to be considered is whether the market can really provide us with a safe space? People who generally over-express themselves in an anonymous online environment, we tend to think of such people as “trolls”: harassing others for the sake of stimulation, Or a liar. The irony is that when we try to create a space that is truly completely “free”, we give some people a chance to do something wrong, and “laissez-faire” is asking for trouble.
It cannot be denied that liberalism, and even anarcho-capitalism, is indeed very alluring in the current Web2 environment where corporations control “platforms”. The fact that they exploit creators and hold user data on a global scale is truly disturbing. People want a new democratization and fairer system.
But mature people don’t expect utopia, and thoughtful people understand that the market is not an omnipotent god, it’s just a distribution system that, like any other system, has advantages and disadvantages. We need to look at these issues from a mature perspective and pay attention to the choices made at the stage of Web3 development, as in Jaron Lanier’s example, small tweaks can make a difference. We may not be able to decide how things play out individually, but together we can create an environment where by building consensus and acting smart, the millions of people currently occupying the Metaverse can create a better future for billions of people in the future.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/metaverse-and-anarcho-capitalism/
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