On Sunday, Elon Musk tweeted a TikTok of an interview between Bill Gates and David Letterman in 1995, asking, “Given the almost unimaginable nature of the present, what will the future be?”
In the video, Gates describes the internet to Letterman, which was new and strange to most at the time. After showing the clip, the TikTok user who posted the interview compares the discussion between Gates and Letterman to “what’s happening now with Web3.”
Web3 is the decentralized iteration of the internet based on blockchain technology, which powers nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, and underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Supporters of Web3 think the internet today is controlled by a few large companies, like Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook, now Meta. With Web3, users would ideally control their own data instead.
But to Musk, Web3 “seems more marketing buzzword than reality right now,” he tweeted.
Many people agree with Musk that Web3 is currently little more than a buzzword, since it’s still in the very early stages. To some, it’s not fleshed out enough to be considered fully real just yet.
But supporters see it differently. Traces of Web3 are already seen in decentralized finance, or DeFi, applications; in decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs; and in the NFT space. Companies like Kickstarter and Discord have even attempted to start to build in Web3, despite backlash from their users.
However, the idea of a fully decentralized, seamless version of the internet is still far away, with many unknowns to sort through.
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