Web 3.0 and The Need for Attorneys

13 August 2023 by Anith eDiscovery Web 3.0 attorneys

Takeaway: Web 3.0 comes with a set of new rules and regulations as it is decentralized, easily accessible, trustless, and permissionless. Attorneys will be needed to protect these new rules and regulations since the users are still human and prone to errors.

The Internet’s latest version and issues that attorneys need to solve.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and the metaverse are new digital assets that are flooding the market. These bring with them a unique set of issues for attorneys. For example, do you also buy the copyright of an NFT when you buy an NFT? That is not always true. When the pre-book pitchbook for the Dune franchise by director Alejandro Jodorowsky was bought by a company, they presumed that they had received the copyright privileges also. However, since the actual copyright owners did not agree and they didn’t get the creative license to film a Dune movie. There are similar challenges with the metaverse, virtual land, and cryptocurrency. Can you pass on land you buy in the metaverse to an heir via your will? Who has jurisdiction to litigate cryptocurrency-related crimes since crypto is decentralized? These are an entirely new set of problems that future attorneys will have to resolve.

The early versions of the internet were much simpler so such issues never came up

HTML (hypertext markup language), URL (uniform resource locator), and HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) were the building blocks of the internet of the 90s, which nowadays seems like really simple technology. HTML was used to format web pages that could be found via a URL, and accessed using HTTP. The 90s was also the time of dial-up connections. Web 1.0 was where static web pages were loaded onto your internet browser using an extremely slow dial-up connection. Over time this made way for Web 2.0, which introduced more interactive web pages. Almost anyone could create dynamic (i.e., changing) web content. This led to the age of social networks. All this was possible because, at the same time, we witnessed the growth of corresponding technology such as the creation of broadband and mobile internet access via iPhones/Androids. All this opened the door for software such as YouTube, Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb which took the internet experience to a whole new level. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Meta were major contributors to this growth

Enter the whole new world of Web 3.0.

Decentralization and bottom-up design are the building blocks of Web 3.0. What this entails is that - users have most of the power, there is no central authority writing code, creating content, controlling what’s okay and what isn’t. Another point to note is that computers communicate with each other (rather than with humans) via AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, the blockchain, and P2P (peer-to-peer) networks.

What does decentralization entail with no single controlling entity?

Software giants like Google and Meta run centralized databases which act as servers for the data and fixed addresses used by Web 2.0. In stark contrast, mobile phones, laptops, cars, appliances, and many other devices are used to generate data by Web 3.0. The data generated by Web 3.0 is then spread through user-controlled decentralized networks. For example, the Internet of Things, where your phone ‘talks’ to various appliances in your home such as television, refrigerators, lights, car, etc. In this, there is no single controlling entity.

Data can be accessed directly without going through an intermediary.

Web 3.0 is trustless and permissionless. What this means is that instead of going through a trusted intermediary to set up the network, it is done so in a way that lets people communicate directly. This can be done without permission from a centralized authorizing body. Let us take the example of sending a Bitcoin. Here instead of going through an online exchange or centralized wallets, you will use dApps or decentralized apps, and everything takes place via encryption and blockchain algorithms. A third party is not required to oversee anything because of the smart contracts with policies/protocols that are defined in software code which will execute many transfers. (Automation of this kind will aid lawyers who spend a lot of time on administrative tasks such as updating client trust ledgers and transferring information between applications.)

Also, it is readily available and immersible.

Similar to the Internet of Things (IoT) that we briefly described earlier data in Web 3.0 is created and transferred through multiple. Suppose you are planning to go on a vacation then a whole slew of apps and bots will together to plan the trip based on your profile and preferences – starting with booking flights, making hotel reservations, renting cars, and more. In the future as the metaverse evolves a lot of these experiences and processes will become immersive, via advanced 3D graphics generated virtual space.

Next, there’s artificial intelligence.

The internet will become more user-friendly as AI and machine learning help computers to understand and process information like humans. Soon, giving instructions to a computer will be more like talking to a person. There may be a time in the future when search engines will be able to understand our intent instead of just sticking to the search phrases that we have keyed in. Other than internet searches, Medical and tech advances (like developing new pharmaceuticals) will become better and more frequent as computers will have more understanding of the human experience. One advantage of an AI-dominated system will be fewer errors and fraud. For instance, spotting fake positive reviews for products or flawed testing of pharma products will be better with AI.

All these advances bring with them a new set of problems. For one, Web 3.0 is very difficult for the average user to comprehend

Decentralized networks, smart contracts, and the blockchain are very complex concepts for the average user to comprehend. So it is necessary to have an understanding of the complexity of the system especially when it comes to things like data security. A failure to comprehend it will leave the user open to potential threats. Another disadvantage is affordability, advanced tech will exclude users who are unable to acquire the latest devices/system as this new tech may not be compatible with older systems/devices

Also, a trustless system does not mean an errorless one.

The blockchain which runs on algorithmic logic can be objective and neutral but it cannot control human behaviour. To give an example, once the project specifications have been met the blockchain will ensure that the money is transferred automatically. But that does not mean that the project was above board and legal. (To illustrate this point, there could be a money laundering operation that uses smart contracts and has users giving false personal information, this is perfectly logical and smooth but is illegal.) The blockchain is not the solution to our problems as it does only what we ask it to do.

Web 3.0 will need attorneys and law firms as assistance will be required to navigate the inescapable roadblocks

Digital assets and transactions that are part of a decentralized system need regulation as algorithms and code alone are not sufficient. Legal frameworks by which governments can regulate Web 3.0 will need to be created by law firms. Attorneys will be needed to help users navigate the real-life legal complications that can arise with the use of blockchain technology.

Getting started with Web 3.0, take small steps and explore each iteration

Law firms and attorneys don’t need to comprehend everything about Web 3.0 all at once. It is important to start small by first exploring the basics and see if eDiscovery toolkits can utilize blockchain technology. Another thing for attorneys to do is keep up and watch out for the latest Web 3 app releases. Some Web 3.0 apps that can get you started are – Sapiens a social news platform Sapiens, Decentraland – an online virtual environment, and Livepeer – a communications app. These apps might seem simple, but they have a very strong Web 3.0 DNA. The sooner we start exploring these developments and changes the easier it will be for us to comprehend.

Want an easy-to-use eDiscovery software as you explore Web 3.0, consider GoldFynch.

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