If you’re into cryptocurrency or blockchain, there’s a good chance I don’t have to spell out the benefits of decentralization. You’re a first-generation user of a technology that will increasingly define the future of the internet, and you have front-row seats to the world premiere of Web3.

The internet’s use and control were always as centralized as we see now. In the early days, under the stewardship of the United States Department of Defense, the network needed not to rely on one core computer. What if a terrorist attack or missile strike took down the principal node? Individual network parts had to communicate without relying on a single computer to reduce vulnerability.

Later, the unincorporated Internet Engineering Task Force, which facilitated the development of all internet protocols, worked ceaselessly to prevent private companies or particular countries from controlling the network.

Today, centralized app nodes are controlled and operated by the planet’s richest organizations, collecting and storing billions of people’s data. Private companies control the user experience on apps and can incentivize and manipulate behavior. From a reliability standpoint, billions lose their primary means of communication when centralized nodes go down — as in recent incidents with Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger in October 2021.

We have also seen how little the tech behemoths think of our privacy when dollar signs appear in their eyes: They harvest and sell our data on an industrial scale. After 10-plus years of using people as advertisers’ products,…

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