Navigating the Future: A Glimpse into Web3’s Transformative Impact

It can be alarming to see how enthusiastic practitioners are about Web3. First, there’s a wall of jargon—crypto, mining, staking, halving, bridging, sharding, smart contracts, ZKPs… And then there’s the actual experience of it, of trying to navigate the user interface of these decentralized programs, all the while receiving warning messages from your bank that you might be sending money to a scam.

There are those within Web3 calling for an end to the nonsense. “Just call it the internet!” In the meantime, for those of you looking to understand the spirit of Web3 without needing to know the letter of it, here’s a short story that shows what the future could look like.


I was riding to work in the back of a self-driving commuter car when the drone suddenly pulled over, and I saw flashing lights behind me. I’m more curious than worried as the officer’s computer connects to the car, and a small display shows me the reason I’ve been stopped: the car has a broken taillight, and somehow the sensor didn’t detect it—something else the shop will have to fix.

I shrugged and went back to checking my messages from the previous evening. It’s not an immediate safety issue, so the car will drive itself to a maintenance centre and the insurance will pay for the repairs without the owner having to get involved.

I jumped as someone knocked on the window. It was the police officer. I was going through an honest to goodness old-school traffic stop. The car checked the officer’s credentials, confirming he actually was a police officer and giving me the option to record the interaction or request for a supervisor. I waive the supervisor and don’t worry about the recording; if I show signs of distress, the car cameras will capture it anyway.

“Yes?” I ask as the window rolls down. “Is there a problem?”

“Need to check your ID, sir.”

I nod and allow him to scan my phone. He could have done this from his vehicle, but he has the right to do spot checks. He also takes a picture of me, which is used to compare the credential to my face before being automatically deleted. His device confirms I have no warrants outstanding or other reasons to be concerned. It probably confirms I’m on my usual commute from home to work, although it doesn’t store that information or let the officer know. He just gets a green checkmark, and I get notified at the same time he does.

He seems to hesitate, then says, “Have a nice day, sir.”

As the commuter car is released, I get copied on a certificate detailing the stop, the ID check, the in-person scan, and the duration of the stop. I can use it to justify being late to my employer. I can use it if I want to submit a complaint. I also know that I don’t have to, since like most people, I opted in. Some of my information has been anonymized and appended to that officer’s file, comparing his activity to both criminal statistics and local demographics. It’s a small concession of my privacy, but it’s a big improvement to riding while being part of a minority. It also protects good cops, although yesterday’s good became today’s average.

Things can still go wrong. One time, a transformer blew and took out the cell coverage. I also think the profiling algorithm has a bias against poverty, but the code and its results are public, so that’s something we can fix, given goodwill and time.


A few key concepts here:

Privacy/Zero Knowledge Proof: the rider didn’t know the officer’s name or badge number, and the officer was only able to verify there was no probable cause to investigate further.

Trust: there was no need for either human to trust the other, and that makes them trust each other more. Everything was done algorithmically.

Transparency: both participants were notified of the process at the same time, and the rights and requirements of each were applied systematically. Data sharing and open-source problem solving are also discussed.

Disintermediation: information flowed straight from the officer to the car or passenger, from the passenger to the car and officer, from the car to the repair shop and insurance. 

What do you think? Is this a future you’d like to live in? What ethical or functional problems were solved or created? Is it a pipe dream, or could most of this be done—even today?

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