Can We Start Talking About Web4?

17 Jun 2024

Since its beginning, the Internet has been continuously changing. Every new version has significantly changed our interaction with information and online activities.

As we navigate the current Web3 landscape featuring Decentralization and blockchain technology, talks about what is being referred to as Web4 have already started. But what precisely is Web4, and should we be discussing it so soon?

The Origins of Web4

The idea of Web4 is familiar, but there is no precise definition that everyone agrees on. Some see it as a logical continuation of the Internet, starting with the sequence Web1 (static websites), Web2 (user-generated content and social media), and Web3 (decentralized applications and blockchains).

On the other hand, others think Web4 could be more radical than these views, suggesting a relationship between humans and machines—even including brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) if possible.

Web4, in essence, is often said to be an advanced internet that is more decentralized, self-governing, and smart. Web3 had issues with scalability, high transaction costs, and tendencies towards centralization by bigger bodies, which Web4 intends to deal with.

Many Web 4.0 followers believe it can only happen by distributing authority and decision-making among network participants rather than one group of leaders or governing bodies.

Technological Landscape of Web 4.0

Although the exact details of Web4 are still unclear, several new and emerging technologies are often mentioned as possible critical parts of building this next version of the Web:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning:

    Web4 could use more advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to develop more innovative and personalized digital experiences. This innovation would fuel virtual assistants, content curation, and predictive modeling that can predict user needs and preferences.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning:

Web4 could use more advanced AI and machine learning algorithms to develop more innovative and personalized digital experiences. This innovation would fuel virtual assistants, content curation, and predictive modeling that can predict user needs and preferences.

  • Internet of Things (IoT):

Web 4 could be influenced by the Internet Of Things (IoT), a system of physical objects connected to the Internet. Web4 might enable makers to create intelligent environments that respond to user behavior because it allows devices to communicate with each other seamlessly.

  • Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs):

This technological advance will lead to brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs, which can be a game-changer for human-computer interaction. For instance, with BCIs in the Web 4 context, users could manipulate digital environments by thinking alone, thereby blurring the lines between real-world physicality and virtual experiences.

  • Metaverse and Extended Reality (XR):

Much recent talk has been about the metaverse as an immersive, persistent, three-dimensional virtual realm. Thus, Web4 is laying down the infrastructure upon which a genuinely decentralized, interoperable metaverse may exist, wherein individuals can transit from one virtual environment to another while interacting with digital items or objects.

Promises and Challenges of Web 4.0

Web4 supporters envision an internet that is more open, transparent, and user-centric, where people can control their data and online interactions. Using decentralized technologies like blockchain and P2P networks, Web4 may quell the risks of censorship, surveillance, and data breaches plaguing centralized systems.

Nevertheless, the journey towards Web4 is challenging. This will require a focus on robust security measures and privacy, as the merging of physical and digital environments might expose users to new risks. Similarly, solutions for scalability, interoperation, and accessible Web4 should be available to accommodate everyone.

Another major challenge involves creating standards and governance mechanisms to maintain Web4's decentralized, autonomous nature while providing users with a unified experience.

What is the role of Decentralization in Web4?

The main objective of Web4 is that it should be completely decentralized, meaning that no single person or group can control the network or its transactions. This goes hand in hand with the values of Web3, where power and control were moved from centralized entities through blockchain technology.

However, critics argue that Web3 has yet to achieve real Decentralization since venture capitalists and big businesses still have more influence over this system than any other player. The supporters of Web4 think that if they fully embrace decentralized technologies and decisions made through consensus, a truly decentralized internet will be created.

Benefits of decentralization under Web4 include increased security, privacy, and freedom to avoid censorship/ manipulation. Moreover, by reducing barriers to entry for new entrants into the marketplace while minimizing the risk of creating monopolies, a decentralized web may foster innovation and competition.

What are the Benefits of Decentralization in  Web4?

Here are some potential benefits of Decentralization in Web4.

  1. Enhanced Security and Privacy

In a decentralized Web4 world, there would be no central authority or single point of failure that hackers can exploit. Data and interactions will be distributed over peer-to-peer networks, making compromise difficult. Users will also be more responsible for their personal data and online identity.

  1. Censorship Resistance

A decentralized Web4, with no central governing body, would be highly resistant to censorship attempts by governments, corporations, or other centralized entities. This implies that content and information can flow freely without being blocked or taken down.

  1. Monopoly Prevention

Decentralization prevents monopolies from occurring, where large tech companies control user data and online activities to make profits. It provides a level ground for competition and innovation by new players.

  1. Community Ownership and Governance

If we had an actual decentralized Web4, the platforms, services, and protocols they use could be owned and run collectively by the users themselves using transparent consent mechanisms like voting. This is consistent with the principles of Decentralization of power and community sovereignty.

  1. Innovation and Permission-less Development

Web4 Decentralization removes centralized intermediaries so anyone can build a new application without prior consent.

Can we expect Web4 soon, or will it take time?

The road to a realized Web4 might seem long, but the thrilling potential of this next step in internet evolution is worth every bit. While a far-reaching global embrace may not be immediate, its foundations are being laid, and the pace of advances is breathtaking.

Key technologies such as AI, IoT, and XR are advancing rapidly, with breakthroughs occurring constantly. As they mature into more complex systems, these technologies will help us achieve an interface between man and machine that would be desirable in Web4's scope.

Currently, scalability is a challenge, but there are hopeful signs, including blockchain layer two scaling, edge computing, and 5G networks that seek to mitigate it. Establishing these technologies will enable carrying huge data loads alongside the real-time participation necessary for Web 4.

Web4 development requires collaboration among various stakeholders from industries, governance units, and academia. This diverse ecosystem collaborates to construct new protocols, standards, and infrastructure for a decentralized intelligent Web.

Emerging technologies, AI, IoT, and decentralized systems necessitate new governance models to address the peculiar challenges policymakers and regulators are increasingly identifying. However, this is a challenging task since they are being designed as we speak to drive innovation and ensure ethical and responsible deployment.

Due to increased user interest, this will continue as early Web4 applications and experiences go live. The rise of the next generation of digital natives will see these different paradigms being adopted, hence more innovations that will fasten the shift towards more user-centric, decentralized webs.

Although it might take years to have a fully-fledged Web4, we have already embarked on it. If we cooperate, think creatively, and responsibly develop our technology, we can collectively create such a transformative vision. This shapes up tomorrow’s Internet; its prospects cannot be better than these!

Bottom Line

The idea of Web4 is still in its incubation stage, and practical implementation may take some time. However, we always seek a more open, transparent, and user-oriented internet.

Nevertheless, while we continue to negotiate through the problems and potentialities presented by Web3, let us remember that our attitudes towards the Web must be flexible.

If we engage in constructive dialogue, create alliances between stakeholders, and remain innovative, we can direct Web4 growth toward our expectations for a more just and empowering digital world.

Whether it is realized or not, Web4 should be understood as just one part of the constant exploration underpinning this journey to a better Internet.