Tech News: Decentralized Internet

Tech News: Decentralized Internet

Published on 14/06/2022

Topic #1: Behind the concept of Web 3

"Web 3", short for "Web 3.0", frequently makes the headline in the tech ecosystem (and we are no different apparently)  because of the amount of cash flowing towards this "new internet". VCs are pouring billions of dollars worth of investments into the foundation of a vast ecosystem of decentralized internet services. From this capital flow, emerged massive innovation in the underlying decentralized technology stack, as well as consumer-facing applications that are disrupting money, finance, and even the internet itself.

As you might have read, or guessed by now, Web 3 is a new generation of the Internet. The philosophy behind it is to build a decentralized online ecosystem based on the blockchain. By leveraging tokens and decentralized technology, it aims to disrupt centralized intermediaries such as bank or large platforms. 

If we rewind to the launch of the Internet, we first witnessed the birth of what is now called "Web 1.0" which was mostly a "read-only" media. Users where confined to being content consumers navigating through individual static web pages (remember the first ever webpage ?) .

Then, came the "Web 2.0", the web we use today. Thanks to web technologies such as JavaScript and HTML5, the internet became more interactive thus allowing start ups to build platforms such as Google, Facebook or Amazon. They are responsible for our modern centralised version of the web which revolves around a few platforms where data is at the core of their business models. 

So what's new with "Web3"? It's still a concept, for now, but it aims at creating an "open and decentralized version of the internet”. Users would be able to exchange money and exchange information on the web without the need for a middle man like a bank or a tech company. They would have more control over their data and be able to sell it if they choose. As it would be operated on a decentralised distributed ledger technology ( the most common version being the blockchain). It could offer more transparency and autonomy for users. 

With a single personalised account, users would be able to move seemlessly from social media to email to shopping, while creating a public record on the blockchain of all that activity. How does it operates if it's not controlled by a central entity or corporation? People would be given virtual tokens, or cryptocurrencies, to incentivise them to participate in the operations of Web3. A central element of this system is DEFI (decentralized finance). The idea is that, if it's possible to financialize every possible interactions of computers, softwares and humans, then, you can create a vast ecosystem of crypto currencies which can be traded and valued relatively to one another.

Topic #2: Understanding Quantum Computing, its strengths and its limits

Quantum Computing is an emerging technology that aims at leveraging the complex laws of Quantum Mechanics to solve problems too difficult for classical computers. Its applications are theoretically game-changing in many fields but cannot be exploited yet because of technical limitations that we aren’t able to overcome yet. 

Here are two quantum phenomena that are exploited in Quantum computers:

  • Quantum superposition is the idea that a particle isn’t in a particular state or another, but in a superposition of different states, with different probabilities, until it is measured. Therefore, a Qubit, short for Quantum Bit, like classical bits has only 2 possible states, 0 and 1, but is defined by its probability to be in the state 1. The measurement projects the Qubit in a state, with a corresponding probability, and ends its superposition. 
  • Quantum Entanglement is the fact that two quantum particles can be linked at their creation, in a way that a measurement on one of them determines the state of the other. This can be observed even if the two particles are very far apart.

Some important things to remember about Quantum Computers: 

  • They work completely differently than classical computers, they operate like a closed device that sets itself up, goes through operators, and gives a result 
  • They need their own programs and algorithms 
  • Quantum algorithms are fundamentally probabilistic but by running multiple times the same programs, you can get an accurate result
  • When you add a Qubit, you effectively double its calculating power
  • Some Quantum algorithms are exponentially more efficient than their classical counterparts at very precise things 

However, it's very difficult to build and operate one. Qubits need to preserve their superpositions and entanglements, which requires a very stable and isolated environment (any interference might break entanglements, which we call Quantum Decoherence). They need temperatures neighbouring absolute zero (under -275 °C), for the superposition of states to be accurately controlled. In fact, avoiding Quantum Decoherence is the main challenge when building a Quantum computer. 

As of today, the biggest Quantum Computer built, called Eagle, has 127 qubits. It is estimated that to accomplish heavy calculations we would need around one million qubits... Some start-ups like Alice & Bob (France) or PsiQuantum (US) are trying to resolve these technical challenges. They aspire to establish Quantum Hegemony.