Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-founder and chief technology officer of Inrupt, speaking at Web Summit 2022.
Sam Barnes | Sports file via Getty Images
LISBON, Portugal — The web creator is unconvinced by the crypto visionaries’ plan for his future and says we should “ignore it.”
Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web in 1989, said on Friday he does not see blockchain as a viable solution for building the next iteration of the internet.
He has his own web decentralization project called Solid.
“It is important to clarify in order to discuss the impacts of new technologies,” said Berners-Lee, speaking on stage at the Web Summit event in Lisbon. “You need to understand what the terms we’re discussing really mean, beyond the buzzwords.”
“It’s such a shame that the real name Web3 was taken by the Ethereum folks for what they do with blockchain. In fact, Web3 isn’t the web at all.”
Web3 is a nebulous term in the tech world used to describe a hypothetical future version of the Internet that is more decentralized than it is today and not dominated by a handful of powerful players such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
It involves a few technologies, including blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens.
While getting our personal data out of the clutches of Big Tech is an ambition shared by Berners-Lee, he’s not convinced that blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, will be the answer. solution.
“Blockchain protocols may be good for some things, but they’re not good for Solid,” a web decentralization project led by Berners-Lee, he said. “They’re too slow, too expensive, and too public. Personal data stores need to be fast, cheap, and private.”
“Ignore the random Web3, Web3 stuff that was built on top of the blockchain,” he added. “We don’t use this for Solid.”
Berners-Lee said people too often confuse Web3 with “Web 3.0”, his own proposal to reshape the internet. His new startup, Inrupt, aims to give users control over their own data, including how it is accessed and stored. The company raised $30 million in a funding round in December, TechCrunch reported.
Berners-Lee says our personal data is siled by a handful of Big Tech platforms, like Google and Facebook, who use it to “lock us into their platforms.”
“The result was a big data race where the winner was the single company that controlled the most data and the losers were everyone else,” he said.
His new startup aims to solve this problem in three ways:
- A global “single sign-on” feature that allows anyone to sign in from anywhere.
- Login IDs that allow users to share their data with others.
- A “Common Universal API”, or Application Programming Interface, that allows applications to pull data from any source.
Berners-Lee isn’t the only notable tech figure to have Web3 doubts. The move has been a punching bag for some Silicon Valley executives, like Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Critics say it’s prone to the same issues as cryptocurrencies, like fraud and security vulnerabilities.