In the early days of the internet, there was a lot of talk about the “digital divide” – the gap between those who had access to the new technology and those who did not. The divide was real, but it was also shrinking. Today, there is a new digital divide, one that is growing rapidly. This time, it’s not about access to the technology but about access to data.
Data is the new oil, and those who have access to it are in a position of tremendous power. As more and more aspects of our lives move online, the data that we generate is becoming increasingly valuable and consolidated. And as we become more reliant on artificial intelligence (AI) and other forms of machine learning, that data becomes even more important.
The problem is that most of this data is controlled by a small number of large companies. The internet was once hailed as a great democratizer, giving everyone a voice. But as it turns out, the web has become one of the most powerful tools for centralizing control in the hands of a few.
Centralized platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have become the gatekeepers of the internet, controlling what we see and how we interact. They’ve also become incredibly profitable, with a combined market capitalization of $2 trillion.
These companies use our data to target us with ads, to influence our opinions, and even to manipulate our behavior. They can also sell our data to other companies or use it for their own purposes.
While new technology is emerging that could finally hand data control back to users, it’s called blockchain, and it’s a distributed database that allows for secure, transparent, and tamper-proof transactions.
With blockchain, participants can access information and directly exchange data without a middleman. This could create a more democratic internet, where people have more control over their data and how it’s used.
For example, imagine if you could sell your data directly to advertisers rather than having it collected and sold by a third party. With blockchain, this is possible, and advertisers could purchase data directly from users, eliminating the need for data brokers.
Blockchain could also lead to new business models that give people more control over their data. For example, a social media platform could allow users to monetize their data by selling it to advertisers–a decentralized version of Facebook that allows users to control their data.
No Zuck: Web 3.0 is Not Your Metaverse!
We are on the cusp of a new internet era. The first era was about putting information online. The second era, which has matured, uses internet technologies to change how we live and work. The third era is a decentralized internet–and it will be the driving force in the fourth industrial revolution.
In the first era, enthusiasts and startups charted the course. In the second era, governments and big companies called the shots. In the third era, the rules are made by us – the people who use the internet.
Together, blockchain and AI are creating a new internet paradigm–Don Tapscott coined the Trivergance–which many believe can restore trust and distribute power back to the people. Decentralized applications (DApps) are already proliferating on blockchains that will enable users to interact directly with each other without the need for a middleman.
The combination of blockchain and AI is also driving the development of the “internet of things” (IoT). The IoT is a network of physical objects connected to the internet and can communicate with each other. Blockchain and AI are superior technologies for powering the IoT, as they can handle the large amounts of data and transactions that are generated by devices.
Own Your Health with Blockchain.
The wellness industry is booming. A recent study by the Global Wellness Institute found that it is now worth $4.5 trillion and is growing at a rate of 5.6% per year–while more conservative estimates place the feel good industry at $1.5 trillion.
It’s not surprising that fitness data is a hot commodity. Gyms, wearable device manufacturers, and health and fitness services providers are collecting ever-more sensitive data on our exercise habits, eating regime, and sleep patterns. This data is extremely valuable because it can be used not only to help you live healthier but it can be used to sell you services, supplements, and medications that you might not want or need.
But who owns the data pumping through the feel good ecosystem? And what are these companies doing to protect our privacy?
The answer to these questions is “not you” and “not enough.” wellness data is often sold or shared without our consent, and there are few safeguards in place to protect our personal information.
This is where blockchain comes in. Blockchain allows the authenticity and movement of data to be verifiable. This will help to ensure that information is not manipulated or tampered with. As a result, the internet will be more trustworthy and reliable than ever before.
A blockchain that produces a distributed database that allows for secure, transparent, and tamper-proof transactions could be used to store fitness data in a secure, decentralized manner, ensuring a user or designated entity has control over specific information. When combined with smart contracts or perhaps an entirely new protocol, blockchain can reward cryptocurrency for contributing resources, governance, or performing a behavior such as an exercise.
This would be a win for consumers, businesses, and society. Consumers would have greater confidence that their data is being handled securely and responsibly. Companies would use this data to create more personalized and effective products and services. Society benefits from lower healthcare costs since consumers would be incentivized to live healthier lives.
Own Your Digital Self with Blockchain
For the internet’s transcendence, products that meld blockchain, AI, and IoT will need to improve on today’s best products by at least 10x if they will win in the race to disrupt Web2.
One of the most significant opportunities is in the multi-trillion dollar wellness industry. Wellness is about properly caring for your mind, body, and soul. In the world of the body that has a strong influence on the mind and soul, people don’t often stick with their health routines. Almost 50% of people who start an exercise program quit within six months.
This high attrition rate is largely attributed to motivation, or a lack thereof. The trivergance can reverse the motivation problem, bringing a 10x improvement on the best products Web2 has to offer.
Blockchain, AI, and IoT can make exercise compelling by providing the tools and guidance needed to forge healthier habits.
For example, imagine your exercise routine was personalized for you based on your goals, preferences, and current fitness level. When you exercise, you’re guided as if a trainer were there with you each step of the way, leading you down a path to success based on insights gathered from millions of trainees.
You would be able to track your progress in real-time, receive feedback, and set new goals. You would also be able to compete with others in virtual fitness challenges.
After you finish an exercise, you are rewarded with a token that you can save and generate interest on, or you could cash it in and buy yourself a cup of coffee. You did this without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.
This would not only make exercise more effective, but it would also make you more accountable and eager to participate in the activity. You would be less likely to quit because you would never have to guess second whether or not your efforts are working to achieve your goals, you are rewarded with digital assets that transfer to tangible value, and you can share moments with your friends in the process.
Oh, and, remember the data that kicked off this conversation? You own it and call the shots about how your data is used. Blockchain and AI could revolutionize the feel good industry and chart a course for how Web3 products reset the balance of power.
Own Web 3.0
The quantum leap blockchain-enabled AI will take over Web2 products will lead customers to rush in. How profoundly these products improve quality of life will keep generations engaged.
The impact will be like switching from a commodity of the internet to being an owner and decider of internet power, and it will be impossible to turn back. The hurdle before realizing this shift is fixing Web3’s accessibility problem. Quite simply–the average person does not have access to shaping the most important features of Web3 products.
Take bitcoin as an example. To partake in the validation process of the bitcoin protocol requires a tremendous amount of computing power. Miners are rewarded with bitcoin for verifying and committing transactions to the blockchain. But as the popularity of bitcoin has increased, so has the amount of computing power required to mine them, and the energy to transact them. The average individual will simply never invest in the infrastructure to be an owner of the bitcoin network. And even if they could, the power will remain consolidated amongst those with the capital to accumulate farms of Bitcoin mining machines.
Ethereum is solving Bitcoin’s energy problem with a new way of verifying transactions, but a fundamental equity issue remains. With Proof of Stake, cryptocurrency owners are chosen to verify transactions rather than energy-intensive GPU machines. While Proof of Stake is a fairer system, it has the drawback of favoring the already wealthy. Wealthy individuals can afford to buy more of the coin, making them more likely to be chosen to verify transactions and earn more tokens in exchange, continuing a pattern of where the rich get richer.
A blockchain protocol can be implemented in various ways depending on the needs of the network. For example, blockchains can use different consensus algorithms or verification methods for transactions. A blockchain protocol is a set of rules that govern how a blockchain network operates. These rules include things like the consensus algorithm that determines how new blocks are added to the chain and the rules for how transactions are verified and added to the ledger.
Blockchain protocols have promising opportunities to minimize equity disparities for earning tokens, like Worldcoin, which rewards participants with tokens for gazing into an orb. IoT and cloud computers offer Proof of Storage and Proof of Bandwidth to put your gadgets to work for you. Then there is a new crop of games emerging that turn what was once a banned black market service–selling digital assets and breaking terms of services in the process–into a way for players to earn for their time invested in-game legitimately.
DApps and even protocols have been proposed to promote healthier lifestyles and more sustainable and equitable society. For example, a blockchain-based protocol could be developed to validate transactions and reward participants based on exercise progress. This record can be used to verify their achievements and provide Proof of Movement to win tokens and receive digital assets.
Coupled with a computer vision-based artificial intelligence, it would encourage people to exercise more and better, which would reduce obesity, improve people’s health and quality of life, and reduce healthcare costs. This technology will detect how well you are performing specific exercises and provide you with real-time feedback. For example, suppose you are doing a bicep curl. In that case, the technology will be able to tell you how much weight you are using, how many repetitions you have completed, and how much longer you should continue the exercise.
A protocol could be born out of these abilities to mint coins and verify transactions. Compared to protocols like Proof of Work, it would reduce energy demands and the carbon footprint since human movement could be used to validate transactions-–and it is even better for the world than staring into a WorldCoin orb.
Before a blockchain protocol is developed around human movement, layer 2 tokens will be used to prove the value of move-to-earn DApps. These will be built on chains like Solana, Polkadot, or Ethereum: Solana is promising with its incredibly fast Proof of History protocol; Polkadot has a Nominated Proof of Stake that can have blockchains built on top of the network, coining it the first Layer 0 chain; or Ethereum can be used, which has the largest community and examples for developers to draw from.
The Future is Bright
Thirty years ago it was hard to imagine every man and woman owning a pocket-sized computer powerful enough to access nearly anything or anyone at instantaneous speeds. The average person now has access to more information than the United States President did in 1990!
The modern arms race will be won by those who have the permissions and ability to control information–including data about yourself. Owning a piece of Web3 can revive the promise of a democratized internet born in the early days of Web1. An early way to wield your power and own your digital self will be within the multi-trillion dollar wellness industry–which is the reason companies like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta are investing billions to jump into the space.
Computer vision products like those automating fitness are quickly defining this future. They present a new medium where digital presence intersects with digital ownership and physical self. Combining the power of blockchain, AI, and IoT opens a new world of possibilities where value is transformed by how movement is understood to help you live better. Automation in this world will not only be used to improve your health and to personalize experiences, but it will be the battleground where companies fight over who controls your vote and ownership over Web3.
Much like the winners of Web2, the victors of this battle will not be decided by the historical configuration of power; it will be decided by the blood, sweat, and tears of those bold enough to band together and create unimaginable value that improves the quality of life for future generations.