How Web3 Infrastructure Influences Longevity Research Funds
Since it was first described in the early 90s by Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta, blockchain technology has evolved relatively quickly. From its initial conception as a document authentication system, it transformed into its most well-known usage: a cryptographic ecosystem for cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.
In 2014-15, blockchain underwent another change. Diverging from cryptocurrencies, it developed to facilitate other decentralized transactions, such as smart contracts. This, in turn, allowed DAOs to emerge. These decentralized autonomous organizations facilitated individuals coming together digitally for a common cause.
Recently, blockchain technology has added another use case to its repertoire: the much-discussed Web3.
What is Web3?
Web3 is the colloquial name for the latest iteration of the World Wide Web, the user-friendly side of the Internet. Web3 is a decentralized digital infrastructure built on blockchain technology.
Emerging in the early 1990s, Web 1.0 was a complete global network. Containing static webpage content built on HTML, it was the first time that the world used URLs and HTTP to access information via computers. Primarily, Web 1.0 web pages are relatively basic, offering functionality with very little design.
The emergence of Web 2.0 changed this. Content creation boomed under Web 2.0 as graphics and technology became more advanced. This spurred the growth of new tech companies, such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Meta, which have come to dominate the Web 2.0 market, along with the expansion of online content from individual creators and companies.
Web3 is the next step, but it is not quite yet a reality. The term was coined around 2014 by Gavin Wood, Ethereum’s co-founder, while advocating for a more decentralized open web. Web3 is intended to tackle the challenges of Web2 and develop a more credible structure for online trust. Web3 has three key features:
- Decentralization: Unlike previous versions, Web3 draws its information from various sources and locations at the same time, allowing searches to be based on actual content rather than big-tech algorithms.
- Trust: Web3 operates based on blockchain technology and peer-to-peer networks, making it a decentralized system. It also draws from open-source software, boosting accessibility, while taking it one step further by harnessing blockchain technology. As such it aims to create a trustless and permissionless ecosystem.
- Artificial intelligence: Data is growing at an immense pace. In 2021, it was estimated that over 500 hours of video content was uploaded onto YouTube and 70 million messages were sent in just one minute online. This is just the tip of the iceberg. As data increases, having the most effective technology available to manage it is essential. AI can be trained to analyze and access data, delivering only valuable insights to its owner. Systems built on Web3 may be able to harness this data and extract the most useful parts.
How will Web3 work?
Web3 has long been discussed in tech circles, dating back to 2014 and perhaps even further. However, its implementation is still very much a work in progress. Issues of censorship, access to crypto technology, online anonymity, and ongoing regulatory risks remain somewhat unanswered as the next stepping stone in the web continues to evolve. So how should Web3 work in reality?
At the heart of Web3 is blockchain technology, part of which involves verifying everything uploaded to the network before it is accepted. Web3 stores data on this verifiable record, which it is later able to draw from. The intent is to make it more secure and transparent than previous versions of the web, and the reputation of blockchain as being unhackable supports this concept.
Web3 also focuses on other objectives, such as anti-monopoly aims (no government or big tech control), data protection and control, and uninterrupted access to web services.
Some purported examples of Web3 in action include decentralized browsers focusing on the content instead of ratings, blockchain storage capabilities, streaming services, remote working opportunities, decentralized exchanges, social networks, and even decentralized applications (dApps). The goal of Web3 is to become a decentralized, blockchain-based infrastructure that meets the needs of the modern world.
How can Web3 impact longevity research funding?
Although Web3 hasn’t fully been realized yet, the technology does offer some potential for its proposed use cases, one of which is fundraising. While longevity research is growing in interest, as a relatively new field with no guarantees, it remains underfunded. The decentralized infrastructure of Web3 could offer several solutions.
- Building DAOs: These decentralized organizations could find a home within the wider ecosystem of Web3. It would allow them to function efficiently and continue to build blockchain-based platforms.
- Cost-effective transactions: Web3 aims to drive deeper connections, including financial ones. By moving away from traditional financial brick-and-mortar systems, technology can make transferring funds from one location to another more cost-effective. Fewer bank charges would occur, in turn, putting more resources in the hands of longevity researchers for their work. However, challenges relating to gas fees would need to be addressed.
- Connecting wallets and users: Traditional interbank transactions are often hit with high fees if the transaction is even possible in the first place. Web3 apps may allow users to become more directly connected by enabling them to transfer funds from one account to another without a middleman.
Going beyond a purely economic perspective, Web3 could offer the connections required for human resources and researchers to make a focused impact.
At this moment, Web3 is a relatively new emerging technology. Its potential for DAOs and longevity research has yet to be fully realized, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. As the technology evolves, more use cases will emerge that offer greater potential not just for longevity research but for the wider non-profit ecosystem.