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Every futuristic movie from the last few decades has in one way or the other portrayed the rather frightful trope of man being overpowered by his invention- technology. While most of this curiousness and anxiety can be attributed to the chaos of living at the threshold of great inventions in the technocultural realm and the incapability of the masses to perceive the same, in the contemporary discourse of augmented reality and the metaverse, this trope seems to be strengthening itself via prejudice and misinformation. The newness of technology has always been a terrifying mystery for human civilization. However, now that we are witnessing the inception of a digital twin, in layman’s terms, for the real world, the question of autonomy is more pertinent than ever. 

What is Web 3.0?

At the beginning of the 21st Century, the genius who conceptualized the World Wide Web, Tim Berners Lee envisioned the creation of a ‘Semantic Web’, a digital agent intelligent enough to carry out day-to-day functions of trade and bureaucracy. Although many pioneers have talked about the same over the following years, the idea of the Semantic Web is understood to be the first known definition of Web 3.0. Subsequent to Lee’s conceptualization, Web 3.0 as we see it today,  an amalgamation of logic, interface, and data is a result of the innovative thought processes of various pioneers. With Web 1.0 we could access the internet through browsers, with web 2.0 we moved on to mobile phones, apps, and the cloud which saves the data. Now, with web 3.0, we are moving on to AR/VR, Artificial Intelligence, and the Blockchain that stores massive amounts of data. Web 3.0 is an autonomous spatial web that does not need intermediaries. This autonomous spatial Web has birthed NFTs and DAOs. A Non-Fungible Token is a non-interchangeable unit on the blockchain which can be traded and sold but not replicated. DAOs, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations are basically a kingdom without a king. For the sake of comprehension, DAOs are collective entities owned and operated by a community instead of intermediaries like banks or even governments for that matter. The lack of a central authority figure to whom everyone is answerable and accountable makes the Web 3.0 space an entirely new form of organization, a departure from the conventional social hierarchies. 

Is it really a power struggle? 

It is only consequential that the departure from the conventional hierarchies and venturing into the decentralized realm of an autonomous spatial web harbour the fear of losing control. Humans are progressing from being the creation to being the creator. From cryptocurrency to NFTs, the Web 3.0 realm is carefully and meticulously curated and created by a generation of futuristic talent that believes in exploring the unknown and the possibilities it brings. The primary concern with the trope of the fear of being overcome by Artificial Intelligence is that it is disconnected from the obvious fact that it is man himself who creates the world of Artificial Intelligence. Everything about Web 3.0 is set on the pre-determined conditions set by people themselves. The role of the web is to simply carry out these functions. What then, is the validity of the fear of technology being a threat to humanity? It has and will continue to remain an agent of civilization. However, there is definitely a need to critique the ethical nuances of the same. Any AI/AR/VR will undoubtedly be subjected to the prejudice of its creator, which means that the metaverse will remain a reflection or rather, a digital twin of the tangible reality. Imbibing this argument is the real concern about Web 3.0 that it might just extend and strengthen the existing social biases and inequality of contemporary society. In retrospect, man will bring upon himself the end of a civilization long before AI can even conceptualize it.

Christeena Joy

Consultant Analyst - Publishing

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