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Juan Benet, CEO and founder at Protocol Labs, spoke candidly at WebSummit in Lisbon about the future challenges that the technology sector—specifically Web3—faces in relation to scaling infrastructure and computational power.
Addressing the standing-room audience from the Filecoin stand, Benet said that the latest iteration of technological progression focused on the areas of access, anonymity and verifiability.
“Over the last 80 years, the scale of computing’s impact can’t really be overstated. Over decade [upon] decade, these improvements have conspired to give us effectively these superpowers that our ancestors would have thought magical,” he said.
Despite the potential for social impact, Benet warned of a technologically-driven “Orwellian type of future” if developer intentions are positioned against the common good, noting mass surveillance and social credit systems as prime examples.
“Over the next five to 10 years, we have this opportunity to lock in rights and the network so that we can build better protocols that can ensure secure, private communication across everybody... to take and disseminate information freely,” he said.
He noted that the current application stack of Web2 remains in a “very precarious condition where—even though the phones, personal computers and internet protocols are pretty stable—all of it is built upon a very unstable foundation of contracts, terms of service, license agreements and corporations that are very fickle.”
“At any point in time, they can change their perspective, or change their mind, or take away any kind of system or rights that have been granted,” he said. “And so what Web3 is doing is trying to build an underlying foundational structure for the internet — out of strong cryptography and economic incentives — that is based on something much harder to subvert back.”
Following the discussion, Benet spoke exclusively to Decrypt regarding the present infrastructure capabilities of Web3 in relation to its predecessor Web2, and Filecoin’s ‘master plan’ for decentralized storage. Filecoin is an open-source, public cryptocurrency and digital payment system developed by Protocol Labs.
“Web3 is 2-3 years away from achieving the capabilities of Web2,” he declared.
Asked whether these solutions would likely be provided by start-up companies or firms currently in nascent development, Benet stated: “I think startups will have a large impact on the growth.”
“Over the next 10 years, it will be about building out the computing infrastructure to be able to bridge computing data and upgrade the internet to have public verifiability,” he added.