My first response to most new technological things is usually “cool, I wonder how I/we could use that?” With so-called ‘web3’, though, I’ve kind of thought it was bullshit.
This post by Moxie Marlinspike, CEO of Signal, goes a step forward and includes opinions by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.
I’m not sure what I think about the bit quoted below about not distributing infrastructure? In Marxist terms, it seems like not distributing or providing ownership of the means of production?
If we do want to change our relationship to technology, I think we’d have to do it intentionally. My basic thoughts are roughly:
- We should accept the premise that people will not run their own servers by designing systems that can distribute trust without having to distribute infrastructure. This means architecture that anticipates and accepts the inevitable outcome of relatively centralized client/server relationships, but uses cryptography (rather than infrastructure) to distribute trust. One of the surprising things to me about web3, despite being built on “crypto,” is how little cryptography seems to be involved!
- We should try to reduce the burden of building software. At this point, software projects require an enormous amount of human effort. Even relatively simple apps require a group of people to sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, every day, forever. This wasn’t always the case, and there was a time when 50 people working on a software project wasn’t considered a “small team.” As long as software requires such concerted energy and so much highly specialized human focus, I think it will have the tendency to serve the interests of the people sitting in that room every day rather than what we may consider our broader goals. I think changing our relationship to technology will probably require making software easier to create, but in my lifetime I’ve seen the opposite come to pass. Unfortunately, I think distributed systems have a tendency to exacerbate this trend by making things more complicated and more difficult, not less complicated and less difficult.
Update: Moxie Marlinspike has announced he’s stepping down as Signal CEO.