Primavera De Filippi: “Metaverse is the new site”

American magazine luck He has been named one of the 40 Most Influential People Under 40 in FinTech. Lawyer by training, artist, and militant activist for years for an “open” internet and new democratic blockchain-based governance, Primavera De Filippi will be one of the distinguished guests at the USI Conference, which will be held on June 27-28. At Palais Brongniart in Paris (usievents.com), of which L’Express is a partner. She explains why the technological innovations resulting from Web 3 constitute a “revolution in power”.

L’Express: Blockchain, NFT, DeFi, DAO, the metaverse… “Web3” evokes a set of terms that are still obscure to most of the population. Let’s start with some pedagogy: For you, what exactly does this expression cover?

Primavera de Filippi: We have reached a point where everything fits together, everything intersects, and it becomes difficult to pinpoint the exact parameters of what is called “Web3”. To me, the term includes any web interface that communicates with some form of blockchain infrastructure. But we can put it more simply: Web 1 was the web for reading; Web2 has been enriched by writing, with the introduction of interactive platforms, which encourage users to create content. Web3 is the new stage, the decentralized web. Users are not only readers and contributors, but they can also claim ownership of the resources they interact with… The possibility is given to them, via the blockchain, to take back the value they have provided for free so far on the web. It is a potential revolution.

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The metaverse, this burgeoning virtual world, will be an essential part of it. How do you see it developing, and building itself in the coming years?

A distinction must first be made between Web3 and the metaverse. This is not the same. What characterizes the metaverse are the concepts of regions, displacements, and movements. spatial outside the physical world, through virtual or augmented reality, which the Internet is absolutely unable to provide. It remains to be seen what we will do with it… At the moment, we are in a somewhat embryonic stage, which brings us back to the era of BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), before the Internet, when we were connected to servers and buildings that made up its little digital world, which did not interact with Each other.

The metaverse – or rather metaverses – is a bit like today: when you enter it, you enter a world completely separate from the rest, and you do not have the possibility to exchange messages, or transfer resources in another virtual system. We are really still in a precarious and limited paradigm, which causes us to lose all the advantages of the Internet, namely, interoperability, the ability to move undisturbed from one universe to another. That’s why I think we won’t be able to resist the urge to open up and create systems that are increasingly interconnected and compatible with each other. This, in my opinion, is the natural slope. But we cannot rule out that a large dominant player will impose their vision and model, spreading a platform so powerful and dominant that they no longer need to communicate with others. The equivalent of Facebook at the time of Web2.

But by its very nature, blockchain technology and philosophy tend toward a highly decentralized model. We are inclined to say that the new ecosystem will necessarily reject attempts of this kind …

This is not certain, and we are living an interesting moment from this point of view; Sooner or later there will be this bifurcation, the inevitable opposition between a highly decentralized model, interconnected as promised by the Internet, and a dominant model with two or three major major platforms, along with niche platforms that will not play on the same space and will not be able to compete. Once established, will giant platforms accept other people’s things, and their resources? This is the whole question. Contrary to what one might think, the fact of using a blockchain is not, in and of itself, a guarantee of an open and decentralized approach. Look what’s going on in Sandbox and Decentraland: these decentralized platforms don’t recognize things in between… As a player, if you get such and such an object in their metaverse, you’ll be able to view it in one but not in the other. This proves that the battle for interoperability has not been won.

Today, we see a series of ads from major brands, ready to spend a fortune to buy virtual land. Beyond the marketing inversion, what does this mean?

Above all, we can see the communication processes. But these brands just don’t do anything: there is already a huge market in the metaverse. People spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to decorate their avatars. When he hosted a concert on Roblox, American rapper Lil Nas X made more trade revenue. To personify the spectator by selling tickets. Gucci, the industry leader, launched a digital bag on Roblox that was purchased at a higher price than the physical bag marketed in stores!

Fashion is a matter of prestige. If we start spending time in the metaverse, selling avatar extensions will become a very good business. Another option for brands is to sell shopping coupons in the virtual world. Boson, for example, is building the Metaverse Mall. what’s the idea? Instead of browsing an e-commerce site and ordering your clothes with just a few clicks, you’re offered a completely different experience: you can walk into a virtual store, find the clothes you’re looking for, try on your avatar, buy them and have them mailed to you. metaverse is the new site. At the moment, it seems a little silly, but a few years ago no one would have imagined buying a pair of shoes on the Internet. Now everyone does it.

Beyond the metaverse, what initiatives and innovations do you see most promising today in Web3?

Anything in decentralized finance is absolutely fantastic. DeFi replicates all functions of financial applications, all methods of trading and financing, without having to rely on central institutions. At all links in the chain, everything you can imagine in the traditional financial markets is recreated in a decentralized way thanks to the blockchain. Very interesting projects using NFTs (editor’s note, non-replaceable tokens) also appear. Either way, we can already talk about a fairly huge adoption. The rest, it’s all about DAOs, these decentralized autonomous organizations governed by “smart contracts”, are very promising and innovative. But this is still reserved for “geeks” communities.

In general, should companies expect to see their business models completely disrupted by Web3?

The promise of Web3 is the disappearance of intermediaries, the idea that in the future everything can be done peer-to-peer, but this is not true … the lack of a complete middleman. But what will change is the distribution of value. Today “crowdsourcing” is the dominant paradigm: large online platforms do not produce value in themselves, they coordinate and aggregate what their users offer them; It’s the business heart of all Airbnb, Uber, Facebook and Twitter companies on the planet…

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The mediator, in these precise cases, has a monopoly on all value; The user not only provides him with resources, but also has to pay to use his services! Can we, tomorrow, imagine systems that guarantee a more equitable form of redistribution? With Web3, I think so, through tokens or dividends or governance rights. This is the bottom line. This is not a complete revolution, but a profound development: we will no longer accept to see everything confiscated by a central operator.


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Dominique René, here on December 6, 2015, is University Professor at Science Po and General Director of the Foundation for Political Innovation.Written by Dominique René, University Professor at Sciences Po and General Director of the Foundation for Political Innovation

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