Digitial Property Rights

Censorship-resistant exchange of digital property rights at a massive scale, to enable billions of users, applications and machines to exchange rights in real time with almost zero friction.  

At a fundamental level Web3 represents the massive scale exchange of digital rights. 

What is novel about Web3 is censorship resistance, specifically the rights are encoded into a protocol agreed upon by a community without centralized authorities. The right to transact (or transfer value) is just one example of a digital right, but there are wide variety of rights from the fundamental (e.g., the right to vote) to the mundane (e.g., the right to access) that can be encoded into a protocol and implemented in a censorship resistant way. 

It is perhaps inevitable that the debate around digital rights leads to politics, civil liberties and due process. Many of the contributors to the Alphabill are from Eastern Europe, where in living memory we have seen these rights expropriated by authoritarian governments without due process. Our experience is not unique. 

Civil liberties and protecting individual rights are something our community is passionate about. However, it does need to lead to an all-or-nothing libertarianism, where governments are seen as the problem. Democratic governments are elected by the people through a voting protocol, and democracy itself is a form of rights management. Part of the vision of Web3 is to translate this rights management into the digital realm. 

A good example is Estonia, which has taken the first step in this journey by enabling Internet Voting for national elections. The difference with Web3 and blockchain governance is that rights for voting and for digital property are encoded into a protocol which is cryptographically secure, transparent and censorship resistant. Those rights cannot be taken away unless the community (in this case the national population) agrees that they should. So, censorship resistance here does not mean complete freedom for an individual. Rather it means that the community defines the rules, encodes those rules in a protocol and individuals upon joining the community agree to abide by those rules. 

There are many more everyday examples of enabling the exchange of digital rights that can lead to better outcomes for society. A good example would be personal data rights and the centralization and gatekeepers that have arisen over the last two decades through Web2. The rise of these Web2 platforms represent the loss of digital rights and the monetization of those rights by platforms who control access. Web3 here represents returning back control to the individual. An individual can decide to participate in a service such as social media. They can make a decision to exchange the rights to their personal data for something else - watching an online ad for example. Web3 is the enablement of the individual to decide how and when to do so. 

One of the most exciting opportunities in Web3 is user ownership and the enablement of new types of business models that do not lead to the 100% capture of the financial upside by centralized gatekeepers. The goal of any venture capital funded company is growth, and growth inevitably leads to censorship – cutting off platform access to partners or finding more and better ways to monetize users. In the new model, a Web3 service can be funded by developers who contribute work in exchange for ownership rights as well as users who exchange their digital rights for ownership rights. This allows for the bootstrapping of services in a way that a community can control, without the lock-in and the pursuit of monetization that we have seen in Web2.

To make the Web3 vision a reality we need technologies that enable the massive scale exchange of digital rights. Alphabill is purpose-built with scalability, performance, and censorship resistance to enable billions of users, applications and machines to exchange rights in-real time with almost zero friction.

Blockchains that started out with fungible assets are now moving to cover non-fungible assets. However, these are just two examples of digital rights. There is a universe of digital rights that can be encoded in the form of tokens to afford citizens greater control of their digital activity. These digital rights cover not just fungible, non-fungible, transferable, non-transferable, splittable, non-splittable etc., but also limitations and conditions on how, when, or with whom rights can be transferred. Developers have a choice and they can choose the type of rights based on the community they wish to serve. For example, a permissionless algorithmic stablecoin may have a completely open community where anyone can enter and conduct transactions. A stablecoin community that wishes to interface with the regulated financial system will need to introduce rights and limitations regarding transfer and compliance with the rules regulators place in that domain.