In decentralization, we trust, and in our community, we believe!
This interview is part of the #Decentralized-Internet writing contest! For those who are reading about it for the first time, HackerNoon has built a partnership with Everscale (Formely Free Ton) - a decentralized, community-powered blockchain movement for free Internet! This is the last month to participate in the contest. You can see all #Decentralized-Internet stories here.
So without further ado, let’s start the interview.
Thank you for joining us! Please tell us about yourself.
I am Renjit Philip. I invest in and advise startups in the Middle East, the US, and India. I also am a Blockchain education evangelist for futureu.co, a company based in Dubai, working to bring high-quality live blockchain programming training to learners.
Let's discuss centralized Internet first. What is your opinion on the centralized Internet? What are its pros/cons?
The centralized Internet has brought value to the world and has created jobs and value for investors. It has also resulted in a few companies such as Google, Facebook that have cornered a disproportionate share of the control and value extracted from the centralized Internet. By design, the Centralized Internet needs to rely on advertising revenue and “free to use” business models. As has been pointed by various experts, “free” means that you and I are the products. We retain minimal control over our data, and we are subjected to algorithmic ads, and social media news feeds that have caused large divisions in democracies ranging from the US to India and have spawned the phenomenon of fake news.
What does decentralization mean to you?
For me, decentralization is all about community control of the Internet where no single entity can establish hegemony over the Internet's resources and value. The decentralized Internet is one that is powered by a blockchain.
How decentralization changes the Internet?
Decentralized Internet unleashes the true power of what the net was meant to be - a resource that all users could use for their benefit. The Internet can now store and transfer value, as demonstrated by various cryptocurrencies and assets.
What is the best thing about decentralized Internet?
A few interesting things are happening on the decentralized Internet.
- Financial inclusion: Centralized banking system has resulted in millions of people being excluded from financial services. The decentralized Internet and the resultant decentralized finance have allowed people without bank accounts to participate in the broader economy without paying undue fees. An often-quoted example is remittances, where intermediaries charge 5-8% of the remittance amounts from migrant workers who often earn minimum wage. Decentralized internet and stable crypto coins can help reduce the time and cost of money transfers.
- Artists and NFTs: Nonfungible tokens have allowed artists to retain a larger share of their creative output without the need for intermediaries. NFTs have achieved popular appeal, which has led to more people adopting decentralized Internet and its constructs such as cryptocurrencies, wallets, automated exchanges, oracles, and the like.
- Wallet as identity: The decentralized Internet requires public and private keys. The private keys are used to sign transactions (buy/sell/ transfer crypto or other assets). The wallets like Metamask used to sign transactions become a single point of truth to establish our identity as they store our private keys. Imagine logging in to any website without passwords and by connecting a wallet (with our private keys).
Are you currently directly or indirectly working on the decentralized internet use case? We would love to know more about it.
I am a firm believer in the future of Web3 and the value of education. Therefore, I am putting my effort to support FutureU.co, which is bringing high-quality blockchain programming training to the UAE and the broader Middle East.
Education and awareness will help adopt the decentralized Internet and help people find jobs in this exciting arena. There is a huge talent gap, and companies are looking for people with knowledge of decentralized technologies, and I want to be helping bridge that gap.
Do you have any apprehension or fear related to the decentralization of the Internet?
I fear that there is a land grab going on in terms of creating and selling NFTs and minting Cryptocurrencies. I believe 90% of NFTs and Crypto coins will be worthless as they have been created with the sole aim of extracting value from unsuspecting speculators. This could have the impact of sullying the broader decentralized movement, which will completely transform the Internet as we know it.
I advise people to deeply study the NFT and Crypto projects presented to them and only invest the amount they are willing to lose. These are the early days of the decentralized Internet, and financial pain will accrue to the uninformed.
How do you see the future of the decentralized Internet?
The future of the decentralized Internet is bright! A few things that excite me:
- DAOs: Decentralized Autonomous Organizations are an alternate way to build the traditional companies. Here, the company's operating rules are built into code on a blockchain, and decisions are made by consensus by the community. The concept of a DAO can be extended to a nation, and one can potentially think of a country that is governed on the chain with its constitution and laws written in code.
- Content creators rule: People who create quality content (art, writing, music) will be able to extract the right value for their work from the people who consume the content without tech companies taking a cut.
- Play to earn: Games like Axie Infinity reward their players for participating and playing the game. The concept of gaming has forever been transformed by these cryptocurrency-enabled games.
- Identity: As I mentioned earlier, identity = private key on a wallet. This enables financial and other transactions without intermediaries such as banks taking a fee and going through inane KYC processes to vet their customers.
- Money and code Lego: In a decentralized internet on a blockchain, code is available for all to see. You can build on primitive constructs and create more complicated outputs without reinventing the wheel. This itself will save time and unleash innovation from being held captive by a company that can pay the big bucks to top programmers, for example.
- Metaverse: Finally, a shared world with digital constructs where humans can collaborate and interact is possible because blockchain technologies enable digital ownership and commerce.
Thank you for your time! Any closing thoughts/advice for the readers?
Get involved and learn as much as possible. Web3, Decentralized Finance, Blockchain programming resources are available on many centralized servers! Use these resources and get involved in this fast-evolving new Internet.