Web3 & The New World Order

Developing the best blockchain technology does not guarantee a web3-enabled society.

I’ve been meaning to have this discussion for some time, but I can’t seem to find the time, audience, and place. What irony when I realize I couldn’t even find the time when attending the intensive Polkadot Blockchain Academy in Berkley. I decided to just write it down and follow the discussion wherever it leads to next.

Some of the material fueling this discussion is:
New users can only share 2 links max. See following posts

Main topic:
I hear things like “You can’t solve trust with tech”, and I am often left pondering. This tech space (blockchains, p2p networks, cryptography, research communities) fills me with hope for a world with Less Trust & More Truth. On the other hand, we are all witness to the mainstream negative perceptions of web3, both warranted and not:

  • ponzi scheme

  • fake/magic internet money

  • carbon negative

  • solution looking for a problem

That last point is especially salient, and the primary thought provoker of this discussion.

I think about these naysayers and what they have to lose by humoring the alleged “solution looking for a problem”, utilizing transparent and verifiable means of collaboration that web3 provides. Therein lies the crux of the subject line: Accountability.

Not to spread conspiracy theories here, but…

I can only speak for the US government, in my experience. The humor/irony of these memes mock a government’s lack of accountability. This lack of accountability is hardly a surprise to most readers; it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. There is no incentive to create accountability where systemic trust is at stake. In fact, we only have the opposite: negative repercussions for honest accountability. For example:

  • To protect those who serve justice from who they apprehend, we often obscure their identity (SWAT masks). A police chief claims accountability, but the true story is often a black box. Better to just offer indirect accountability through the chief of police, an expendable figure when violations occur. This way, the perception of law enforcement remains trusted.

  • A specific government department would avoid taking the fall for failing the public, as this impacts the thing keeping a government in power: trust. Such is one of the many complex reasons US military is largely an outsourced/contracted/privatized affair.

  • A company like Airbnb outsources their entire support department to locations like India, there is no way to speak to someone from Airbnb directly. This may be construed as a budget strategy from the outset. However, the opacity leads to plausible deniability when handling support cases. An outsourced call center has little incentive to provide accurate information and customer satisfaction so long as they can keep charging (although I commend those that strive for quality). Since there is no external issue reporting, and issues are only audited by authority requests (like a court order), these black boxes allow Airbnb and the like wiggle room to handle their own policy violations in a timely manner to skirt a lawsuit. Why get rid of that convenience?

  • Similar to above, a medical facility like Swedish Hospital in Washington State keeps an internal record of support that is not even exposed to the affected party. The only way to follow up on a billing issue is to wait on the phone for hours to reach the only (unrelated) available department who then promises to forward the concern to the relevant department. There are no uniquely identifiable agents in the process, because the issue plays hot-potato across support departments. You get a meaningless report code that is unverifiable. You can’t even go to the building where care was administered, because the billing department is a remote department, only accessible directly by internal workers. Ultimately, time-sensitive issues implode, the unpaid billing issue gets forwarded to a collection agency, and the problem becomes even more complex to resolve where it is just not worth it anymore. You just pay an erroneous bill to get it over with. All because there is no accountability… But the hospital got paid, so why bother changing that?

In challenging the current world order, I often think about the following altruistic idea for democratically electing a city mayor:

  • Make a city-building simulation (like SimCity or Democracy) using real-world data (census, police reports, medical statistics, etc.).

  • Give every candidate the same starting point in the simulation.

  • Broadcast each simulation for a specified period of time, in real-time (like a Twitch stream).

  • People vote on the simulated city they want to live in, without knowing which candidate produced it.

In this way, we empirically elect our leaders through results instead of:

  • Popularity contests
  • Rhetorical debates
  • Partial or unfulfilled promises

We may be able to design tamper-proof simulators, reliable user verification, and anti-cheating mechanisms… but can we get the candidates to participate? I think not. Even if they did, I have every reason to suspect they would try to circumvent the simulation’s protocol like we’ve come to expect from general elections.

If the epitome of large-scale human collaboration (aka. governments) is shrouded in departmental entropy, how can we ever achieve societal accountability? If human beings are tribal creatures with hierarchal tendencies, as suggested in Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, then we might never abandon the paradigm of trusting a central authority. We are left with little incentive to deviate from our behavioral patterns regardless of the effectiveness for tools/vehicles like web3.

The point:
It is clear that those operating within centralized powers enjoy the obfuscated accountability bestowed upon them. Auspicious as web3 may seem for the greater population, there is little-to-no incentive for exposing accountability in governmental facets of society (where web3 has the most meaningful impact). We may develop the most reliable primitives to ensure/verify due diligence in human collaboration, but I don’t see how web3 achieves mainstream adoption without (sorely needed) jeopardy for this intended lack of accountability. I anticipate continued disregard to our “solution looking for a problem”, because acknowledging the accountability problem is an empire-shattering inconvenience. Ergo, all signs indicate (at least to me) that web3 will remain at the grassroots level, much like the Open Source software communities. Forever essential and seldom acknowledged.

Make no mistake:

  • I love the tech.

  • I am invested in its future.

  • I yearn for a web3-native society.

  • I am passionate about its promise.

So please, change my mind.


Some of the material fueling this discussion is:

Some of the material fueling this discussion is (contd.):

I admit I haven’t read all of this, but I’m struggling to see how it’s relevant to Polkadot and Kusama, discussion of which is the purpose of this Forum. It appears to be about politics and technology more broadly, which is a fine topic of course, but not within the intended scope here.

As a Substrate developer targeting Polkadot, I struggled to find a more suitable forum than Miscellaneous for engaging the Polkadot mindshare.

In the subject of relevance, you are correct about lacking specificity to Polkadot and Kusama - because it is implied. To help convey a Dotsama sentiment, you may replace the narrative’s keyword ‘web3’ with ‘Polkadot’.

The percolate thoughts here probe at the reasons we participate in governance, where Polkadot finds natural fit, and where it doesn’t even after 2.0. If we extrapolate this narrative, we begin to question how much demand the network generates instead of how much it can theoretically handle.

IMO, this affects more than only Polkadot (and written as such using the term web3), and every network should be discussing this topic in their own forums if achieving mainstream societal relevance is the goal. Otherwise, web3 remains a buzzword with expensive experiments and without revolution.

As for a proper forum discussion, out of the only available forum options, I judiciously chose Miscellaneous for the reason you’ve already observed: the conversation is void of any domain-specific or technical discussion (so far!).
I had already weighed other options:

  • Polkadot or Kusama watercooler
  • PBA element chat
  • Medium
  • Some self-hosted blog
  • Ecosystem forum
  • Governance forum

As a conversation intended for dialog, this forum seems the most ideal, considering prime motivations behind Polkadot is to challenge our existing world order - which is what is being discussed here.

I encourage you to try parsing what I mindfully wrote, and eagerly welcome your suggestions for which Polkadot forums may be within scope.


We’ve no category for existential questions about blockchains, but…

You make this overly complex by worrying about governments, airbnb, etc.

CCP developers were caught cheating in Eve online several times, which forced changes. You can do this governance better with blockchains. Are enough gamers going to care? Yes…

“In 2022, the revenue from the worldwide gaming market was estimated at almost 347 billion U.S. dollars”

That’s not market capitalization. That’s not tether printer go burr fraud. That’s not unfun Axe Infinite printer go burr either. That’s real money changing hands because the games are fun to play. And fairness plays a role in them being fun.

You cannot ship a fun game on ETH because ETH needs to pay 1 million validators. You cannot ship a fun game on a zk roll up on ETH because the zk roll up need an hour to make a block, and must spend 1-100 million x the CPU cost of a single verifier.

You can ship a fun game on polkadot because a single parachain core should cost roughly 40x a single verifier, and because soon-ish parachains should be able to pay to make multiple blocks per relay chain block. Yes, polkadot should be more expensive than AWS, but if the game is fun then some gamers would like the fairness assurances enough to pay.

So build fun massively multi-player games! Ideally, games that shard their data model, so they can run well across multiple parachain cores, which proves polkadot’s scalability and obstructs non-sharded chains forking the game. A couple moderately successful games financially justifies the existence of our whole ecosystem.

We know lots about what crypto & other techniques applies to what games types, but that’s a topic for another thread…