Why web3 rejects central authority
If one were to ask the question “what is the purpose of the blockchain?” you might get answers such as immutability, censorship resistance, and trustlessness. These answers are all correct and valid but they do not really provide any information on why we need these properties in the first place.
The last 20 years of socio-political evolution have left us with an extremely centralized world. Despite the fact that many of us may not realize it, our socio-political landscape is dictated by a select number of companies and organizations who control much of the world’s wealth, information flow, and power. They do this through their dominance, ownership, and manipulation of the media, through lobbying that directly influences and writes the legislation that governs our lives.
They do this through creating and enforcing the policy that governs our financial institutions, tax policies, data distribution, advertising, etc. They fund the political candidates and movements. They fund the advertising. They buy off anyone who attempts to subvert our currently accepted, dysfunctional system.
There is one set of rules, one set of taxes, one set of standards, one set of permissions for the corporations, billionaires, and interest groups, and another for the people who are ground down beneath them.
The internet was an attempt at decentralization, but it has so far mostly failed. The various tools and services we use on the internet still all exist in segregated silos created by central authorities such as Apple, Alphabet (Google), Facebook, Amazon, etc. These companies have become gatekeepers who enforce their own rules of what is allowed and not allowed, who gets to access their services, and who doesn’t. They collect our data, profile us for advertising purposes, and use their dominant market position to push forward their own agendas whether through making deals with advertisers or participating in back-door dealing with governments to pass laws that facilitate the types of surveillance they want — even to the point of negotiating around and capitulating to government demands as ridiculous as only allowing 5-star reviews of Xi Jinping’s book on Amazon.
The main goal of these efforts is to maintain their power and keep the masses under control. This isn’t a conspiracy theory; simply following the financial support that goes to political organizations and watching for the policy ripples that support those donors is enough to demonstrate how broken the system actually is.
The web3 community is fundamentally different than previous technology communities because it exists mostly outside of these closed-off systems. The open nature of the Internet and World Wide Web combined with lower costs for access to computers, storage, etc. has allowed individuals to create their own platforms without permission, but Web3 offers a new level of ownership and independence that cannot be controlled by a central authority.
We see this in the idea of “code is law” where all actions and events take place because of hard-coded logic based on immutable rules that cannot be changed without consensus from everyone involved. In other words, no one can change the rules simply to suit their own needs or replace them with new rules just to support their own agenda.
This concept of having an underlying set of rules that govern all actions is what makes blockchain technology truly revolutionary. No longer can the people who control access to services, data, or wealth dictate how things go because they are simply players in the game like everyone else.
The rules are defined by the code, and the predictability of the code makes it possible for everyone to trust that things will play out as they should.
This independence, this ability for anyone to exist outside the system with no one in control is going to have a powerful impact on how our society operates. The centralized choke-hold over media, information, finance, and political organizations will be brought to its knees.
The struggles we see today around net neutrality, open access to information, and the ability for individuals to represent themselves in the legal system are just a hint of what’s coming. It is going to be rapid and it is going to change everything we know and everything the faceless men take for granted.
But, in order to move into this new world, we need tools that not only allow us to exist in the new paradigm but also help us create it. We need applications and services that empower people instead of allowing them access to just a few carefully selected options dictated by someone else.