Whenever we’re in a certain problematic situation, we imagine an opposite idealistic one. It’s a coping mechanism, an escape. We dream about knocking on heaven’s door when we’re in hell. Okay, maybe I stretched things out way too far. It’s just about problematic web3, and its hypothetical ideal web, web4.
The History of the Web: From Web1 to Web4
Before jumping right into Web4, let’s understand how we reached number 4.
First, there was what’s called Web1 way before we got to Web4. Web1 is the very first stage of the Internet. Back then, you could only read what was presented but couldn’t interact with it. This is what’s called the “read-only era”.
Not only you couldn’t interact with the content, but also every time you wanted to access the Internet, you had to set up your own server. An upgrade was due.
Then came Web2, the Internet stage we’re currently at. The website you’re reading this blog on is Web2 alongside Google, Instagram, Spotify, etc. Web2 wanted to solve the issues that Web1 was unable to: allow interaction, and save users the trouble of setting up their own servers.
So, Web2 transformed the web from read-only to “read-write”. Now, you can access content as well as share your own and comment on others.
Moreover, Web2 functions on a client-server model to save us the hassle of setting up our own servers like Web1 users. Now, you just open your device, connect to the Internet with two clicks, and you’re good to go.
But, this model is centralized meaning there are certain authorities in control of what you’re getting and what you’re doing. This birthed another set of problems.
For example, we’ve seen the thick of the data debate countless times over the last few years. Where is our data stored? How is it used? Adding to that is the issue of censorship. Why does this app censor this topic? Why did my account just get banned? And, why did I just get suspended?
Plus, the security issue. Why is it that easy to get hacked? Why can’t I seem to protect my accounts? And so on. Again, an upgrade was due which would lead to Web3 and then Web4.
Then came Web3. Web3 is the third generation of the Internet operating through decentralized databases. So, there isn’t a central authority, unlike Web2. On the other hand, web3 applications are distributed across a peer-to-peer network. This is to give equal power to all users. No one’s controlling you on this web, you’re in control.
Web3 promised to be:
- Highly secure
It is all of those things… to a certain degree. Web3 is indeed more decentralized and open than Web2. However, this decentralization might be nothing but a myth. The blockchain is the infrastructure of Web3. It is a fully distributed peer-to-peer network making it much more decentralized than Web2 servers.
But you can’t directly interact with the blockchain, you need APIs. And, you don’t create your own APIs because it’s a tough process so you depend on API providers like Infura. This poses a question mark on Web3’s decentralization. How is it decentralized if we still need to rely on an external third party?
Well, just like the previous webs, web3 has its own fair share of problems that Web4 aims to solve.
Web3 problems lie within the blockchain trilemma: decentralization, scalability, and security. As previously mentioned, to solve Web2’s problems, Web3 aims for full decentralization. Whether or not this web is fully decentralized is not the question here. But rather how the solution, which is decentralization, is also a problem.
The concept of decentralization affects scalability and security. It pushes us into a loop we can’t seem to get out of. First, decentralization itself affects scalability.
The blockchain is a peer-to-peer network so multiple miners have to participate in the process of verification. Therefore, this would decrease transaction speeding thus limiting mass adoption. Okay then, let’s not go for 100% decentralization.
Well, don’t you want a secure network? The more decentralized a network is, the more secure it is. This network distribution creates no single points of failure. However, there are inevitable attacks. For example, the 51% attack where if a hacker gets hold of over 50% of the total hashing power in the network, it can create a forked chain and disrupt the network. But, this is unlikely to happen if the blockchain is too decentralized.
Let’s aim for full decentralization then. Remember when I said the more decentralized a network is, the slower it becomes? Well, the more decentralized a blockchain is, the more secure it is, but the less scalable it becomes.
So, it seems like no matter what we’re doing in Web3, we’re compromising another thing. And yet again, an upgrade is due leading us to Web4.
So, What Is Web4
Web4 is the ideal state of Web3 aiming to be more decentralized and autonomous. A main issue in Web3 is that it still makes us rely on an external party. However, Web4 aims to create a network to allow for more direct interactions between users and devices without the need for intermediaries.
It’s important to note, however, that Web4 is not a wide-use term and it’s not in the works yet. So, definitions might differ. But, it is basically the next generation of the Internet promising to offer what Web3 failed to. It is exactly how every web that came dealt with the issues of the pre-existing one.
Web4 is aiming for 100% decentralization from the ground up. First, it aims to create a fully decentralized infrastructure through the blockchain, peer-to-peer networks, and other decentralized technologies.
Second, it will also implement decentralized applications in a way that eradicates the involvement of third parties. This will increase the network’s security but also give users full control over their data.
Third, Web4 also aims to create a decentralized economy allowing users to participate in decentralized marketplaces and other economic activities. Fourth, Web4 aims to increase resilience in a way that if some parts fail, the network would still function.
Artificial Intelligence’s Integration Into Web4
Moreover, this generation of the Internet aims to properly implement Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its network. AI technologies will have a major role in Web4. We’re already seeing how Open AI’s bot ChatGPT is evolving. And, there are collections using AI in the crypto space like CryptoGPT.
In Web4, the idea is to use AI to automate functions aiming to improve efficiency and increase speed. Furthermore, with AI integration, Web4 aims to lay the ground for more opportunities for innovation in the market.
We don’t know to what extent we’ll be seeing AI-human technologies in Web4. We would likely see a merger of virtual reality and augmented reality. Web4 might cross the line separating Maybe even technologies allowing users to easily interact with products in the 3D space.
Web4 would definitely be way more AI and tech-advanced than Web3.
But, Is Web4 Even Possible?
So, Web4 promises to offer:
- Increased security and privacy by completely eliminating third parties
- More open and transparent systems through full decentralization
- Greater resilience in a way the network can continue to function even if certain parts fail
- Bigger space for innovation and competition through AI integration
Of course, all of this while being more accessible, user-friendly, and widely adopted than Web3. But, there are issues stopping Web3 from being fully decentralized and user-friendly. Web4 aims to be better than Web3 by building on Web3’s infrastructure.
How can it make the blockchain 100% decentralized while also making it fast enough? We’re back in the trilemma. However, looking at the evolution of the Web, anything seems possible. Who would’ve thought we would reach this point when we were only able to read through Web1? Web4 might be possible after all. Before reaching Web4, you might want to check out the dark side of Web3.