Hype words usually have a natural life cycle. They appear suddenly, take hold of social media and even the news in some cases, get a lot of attention from people, and then, they suddenly disappear, making way for the next batch of hyped-up concepts. In this regard, the tech world has demonstrated that it is the undisputed champion in this area.
But some concepts manage to demonstrate their staying power, showcasing that there is substance beyond the hype. Web3 and the Metaverse proved their near omnipotence by penetrating the minds and vocabulary of almost anyone who has access to the Internet.
Humans.ai is taking this hype that surrounds Web3 and making it a reality with Scale, a multifaceted AI Launchpad that enables companies to supercharge their AI products and projects by helping them make a seamless transition from Web2 to the internet of the future.
Through Humans Scale, AI companies, researchers and artificial intelligence-focused startups get access to a Web3 environment for their AIs, where they can accelerate the impossible by bringing humanity’s most powerful technology closer to the people. Blockchain plays a central role in Humans Scale, being the underlying framework that facilitates the decentralized governance of the AIs that will populate the platform, as well as a method to unlock new revenue streams through tokenization to help support the development of AI. Scale is democratizing access to this technology, enabling anyone to contribute to its development by building an economy around each AI that unites Venture Capitalists, people, AI companies and researchers towards a common goal, that of supporting the development of the AI of the future.
Industry leaders in tech, advertisement, finance, retail, and entertainment speak about them, preaching about the upcoming revolution brought by this pair. On the other hand, tech giants race against each other to be the first to implement them. The world is certainly moving in this direction. But there is still a general state of confusion surrounding Web3 and the Metaverse. People often confuse Web3 and the Metaverse using these terms interchangeably. Although the two concepts are connected in multiple ways, they represent different ideas and goals.
Before taking a closer look at Web3 and the Metaverse, let’s examine some of the factors that contribute to the confusion between the two.
First, both Web3 and the Metaverse have the work-in-progress label attached. Multiple companies and organizations are working independently to build their own version. Understandably, this means that there is only a very broad understanding of what the two of them really are, as each company has a certain vision for Web3 and the Metaverse.
Both of them still fall into the prototype category creating a certain degree of uncertainty around them which further leads to speculation, rumors and, of course, confusion. Even so, everyone agrees that both concepts are rooted in the principle of decentralization, free from the control of big corporations.
Secondly, the idea of immersion plays a big part, both in Web3, and the Metaverse, as the two of them represent the new and improved versions of existing technologies. Web3 is the next version of the Internet which offers a tailor-made experience for each user while also giving them full control over their information and digital assets.
The Metaverse is somewhat comparable to a social media platform(s) that follow a similar principle — creating a custom experience for each user while also giving ownership and control over their digital identity and assets. Both of these concepts focus on the idea of user control and ownership, which makes it easy for people to confuse the two and use them interchangeably.
In addition, Web3 and the Metaverse will be built on a very similar technological foundation. In the decentralized paradigm promoted by Web3 and the Metaverse, blockchain, NFTs and cryptocurrencies take centre stage for their ability to represent, store and facilitate the transfer of digital assets. Artificial intelligence in all its shapes and sizes will also be a core component of both concepts that will increase performance and help create an immersive and automated experience.
As we can observe, the similarities between Web3 and the Metaverse stem from the degree of uncertainty and ambiguity that surrounds them, the principles of decentralization and ownership they adhere to, and the technological layer they are built on. But how are they different? In the next section, we will take a look at Web3 and the Metaverse to see what makes them tick and why they generate so much hype and excitement.
The Internet as we know it today can be considered one of the modern wonders of the world. Intangible, nearly omniscient and omnipresent, the Internet encapsulates almost all of humanity’s knowledge, making it accessible from a device that can fit in our pockets. Although extraordinary, it does have its set of flaws concerning how the private information and the assets of its users are manipulated by corporate giants that basically run the show.
This is where the concept of Web3 comes in. Web3 is considered the next step in the evolution of the Internet, in which power is moved from centralized entities and put into the hands of the people who use it. In this democratized version of the Internet, nobody can restrict the flow of information because no single entity will own the hardware that runs it. All the servers, systems and networks that compose Web3 are owned by the users, who are directly involved in the Internet’s governance.
But why is it called Web3? The number three isn’t chosen at random; it marks the third significant development of the Internet following Web1 and Web2:
Web1: the first generation of the commercial world wide web as we know it today was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. It was characterized by static website content hosted by centralized organizations and used primarily for information delivery. At that time, the number of people consuming content far outweighed the number of content creators. But if we were to delve deeper, we would find that the origins of the Internet are much older, rooted in the 1950s when it was designed as a distributed network of computers, much like Web3.
Web2: the term Web2 was coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004, and it describes the beginning of the era of user-generated content we live in today. Users are no longer consumers but also content generators. Web2 saw the emergence of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which provided a layer of interactivity. Video content also became predominant with the advent of platforms like YouTube. Although Web2 marked an explosion in the rise of dynamic content and user input, it raises serious concerns related to data privacy and ownership. One example is that when you upload pictures and videos to social media platforms, you don’t own that content. The company behind the service owns everything. Online video games like Fortnite, League of Legends and many others follow the same principle, which means that if they decide to suddenly “pull the plug”, you lose all the assets hosted on their servers.
Web3: While nobody owns the Internet per se, there are a select few companies that exercise substantial influence over it, especially when it comes to data and how it is handled. In 2014 Gavin Wood, co-creator of Ethereum, coined the term Web3, using it to describe a decentralized vision of the Internet, one in which blockchain technology plays a central role. With concepts like cryptocurrency, NFTs, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) and decentralized applications (Dapps), Web3 democratizes the Internet, putting content creation, control, ownership and monetization in the hands of its creators and not the platform or service owners.
While Web3 as a concept describes how the Internet of tomorrow will look like, how it will work, and more importantly, who will own and control it, the Metaverse is a bit more abstract, because it describes how people will experience this new version of the Internet.
Under the current Web2 paradigm, we navigate the Internet and everything it has to offer through the screens of various devices like phones, laptops and tablets, which has worked very well so far. So, if the way we interact with the digital world isn’t broken, why fix it? Well, because of the limits it imposes on us. Also, stagnation is a barrier to innovation. The Metaverse promises to usher in new levels of immersion that have never been seen before by transforming our interaction with the Internet from a 2D to a 3D experience.
Instead of browsing and interacting with Internet content by clicking and juggling multiple web pages and tabs on 2D screens, the Metaverse aims to bring web content and experiences into the third dimension. To facilitate this transition, the Metaverse relies heavily on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to create multiple interconnected and interoperable worlds that users can explore and interact with at their leisure for everything ranging from entertainment, socialization, shopping and work. The possibilities are endless.
The term metaverse is much older than you might think. No, Facebook rebranding itself as Meta doesn’t mean that it invented it or that they own the concept. It doesn’t matter how hard they try to achieve this with marketing and PR stunts. Meta was originally coined in 1992 by Neal Stephenson, who used it in his sci-fi novel “Snow Crash” to describe a virtual reality world. Since then, the concept has been explored in mainstream media, books and some blockbuster movies, most notably The Matrix and Ready Player One.
Reality is quickly catching up with science fiction. Unlike the dystopian worlds depicted in media, the Metaverse is a bit less dramatic and far more friendly. As a matter of fact, some proto-metaverses can be observed in gaming, some popular examples being Roblox and Fortnite. But there are much earlier examples of metaverse-like worlds, such as World of Warcraft (2004) and Runescape (2001), where users created digital avatars and explored full fledge worlds with their own economies, towns and whatnot alongside other people.
At its core, the Metaverse wants to become something similar but on a much grander scale. A series of interconnected worlds that give players full ownership and control of their digital avatar and assets. By putting on virtual reality headsets, users can jump from metaverse to metaverse to enjoy fully immersive experiences like live concerts, gaming, learning, and work meetings.
So far, we have seen what Web3 and the Metaverse are, what they have in store for the future and why people tend to confuse them. It’s clear that they aren’t the same things, but on a conceptual level, they share the same visions for the future of the Internet. Web3 and the Metaverse complement each other perfectly. As a matter of fact, the Metaverse seems to be dependent on Web3 because, without it, it wouldn’t exist. Web3 is the latest incarnation of the Internet owned by its users, while the Metaverse or Metaverses are the virtual worlds that will exist on top of this decentralized infrastructure.
As we have observed during the Web2 era, most tech companies cannot be trusted to preserve users’ private information and interests. With respect to this issue, Web3 is the underlying framework that can help the Metaverse achieve its vision of enabling a creator economy by facilitating decentralization and user ownership which will allow people to control and monetize their data and digital assets.
What is certain is that in the near future, the Metaverse and Web3 will allow us to experience things that seem pulled from science fiction to color outside of the lines so to speak, by experiencing realities that aren’t constrained by the limits of the real world.