At the Applied Sciences conference in Zaandam, speakers discussed the digital future. Not the least name has been said for it. Tim Berners-Lee and Edward Snowden spoke on Thursday afternoon. The message of the President of Ukraine Zelensky was also published.
The Next Web (TNW) conference presents a podium to speakers and attendees each year. There is also a lot to discuss this year: conflicts and financial uncertainties have a huge global impact. The technology world has a big role in this. Three great speakers know how to interpret, inspire and encourage digital developments to seize this moment for a better digital future. For example, Tim Berners-Lee (founder of the internet), Edward Snowden (whistleblower who enlightens NSA violations, among other things) and Volodymyr Zelensky (President of Ukraine).
Since Snowden was accused of ‘espionage’ for his revelations, his involvement was not physical but via a video link with the secure video chat program Jitsi. Zelensky joined with a pre-recorded video presentation.
Speakers jokingly refer to the latest developments as web 3.0 and refer to the rise of the web and web 2.0: where input from internet users (from Wikipedia to social media) has caused a revolution. Another speaker (Gavin Wood, creator of Ethereum, among others) called the web 3.0 revolution the post-Snowden internet. Encryption (for example, via the blockchain) and decentralization are at the heart of this.
Decentralization means you are no longer held on platforms but have more control over your data. Our videos are on YouTube, but whose are they? The same goes for our health data. Platforms like Fitbit collect and keep it. Berners-Lee envisions a future where this collected health data first stays with you locally and then only shared after your clear green light. To health apps, relatives, doctors or other online services.
Cryptocurrency also plays a role in this. Snowden is using the bank example here, the money in your account has become intangible and you are not in control. If something happens to the bank or you have a dispute with the bank, they have options to deny you access to it. Decentralization happens through cryptocurrencies: a digital payment instrument that you manage.
While Wood is visibly depressed by the recent collapse in the value of digital currencies, Snowden is optimistic: cryptocurrencies are now primarily the domain of investors. Many people who engage in this do so to enrich themselves. The payment method is abused by fraudsters or people who want to get rich. The last accident had a huge impact on these people.
Snowden highlights the purpose of cryptocurrency: a digital payment method you own under your control. It allows you to spend your money independently and anonymously (just like cash in the ordinary world). He states that people who believe in this and therefore invest in cryptocurrency are also affected, but they know that this is also a part of it. These investors are there for the long term and have also seen the payment method increase in probabilities. It is getting easier and easier to receive and pay. Snowden also emphasizes that if it weren’t for cryptocurrency, it would never have been secure during their 2013 revelations.
Do we really want this change?
A decentralized internet still feels a bit like utopia. It doesn’t matter if we control our data, whether it’s health, behaviour, payment or other data. That would mean demanding that self-control from tech giants, governments, banks, and other institutions. This will be a fight. Wood likes this change, too, but ask himself: “If we want to change things for the better, we have to really want it”.
In addition to the country affected, the recent war in Ukraine also had a huge global impact. Especially our financial and digital world is changing visibly. Our real money is depreciating and cryptocurrencies have already lost value. Our source of information is also shaken: as with all wars, censorship and propaganda play a role. The saying “when there is war the first victim is the truth” is a well-known saying in our age of social media and fake news.
Zelensky, as always, matches this with his combative speech. Dressed in a nerd-responsible Star Wars shirt, he urges us to build a free digital world. With our support, with the support of tech companies (as Starlink did with internet support after the Russian invasion), Ukraine can be the cradle of a free (digital) future.
Source: Computer Totaal
I am Bret Jackson, a professional journalist and author for Gadget Onus, where I specialize in writing about the gaming industry. With over 6 years of experience in my field, I have built up an extensive portfolio that ranges from reviews to interviews with top figures within the industry. My work has been featured on various news sites, providing readers with insightful analysis regarding the current state of gaming culture.