- From everyday enterprise applications to blockchain-native business models, decentralized architectures and ecosystems disintermediate trust, placing it not in a single person or organization but distributing it across the community of users.
- Blockchain-enabled “trustless” systems could be an antidote to diminishing faith in government, media, money, businesses, and other civic and private institutions.
- By changing how content is made, managed, protected, and monetized, a disintermediated web has the potential to call out deepfakes and to transfer power from intermediaries to producers and consumers.
The blockchain is becoming key not only to developing and monetizing digital assets but also to creating digital trust so profound it could be an antidote to our collective diminishing faith in government, media, money, businesses, and other civic and private institutions.
This is a macro tech trend identified by Deloitte in its major end-of-year report, highlighting new technologies and approaches that stand to become the norm within the next 18 to 24 months, and projects where these trends could be headed next during the coming decade.
The global shift of computing to the cloud and to the edge has not only decentralized the systems of the internet but given rise to technologies and platforms rooted in the cryptographically secure blockchain. As organizations begin to understand blockchain’s utility, they’re realizing that building stakeholder trust could be one of its primary benefits.
“Digital ledger technologies and decentralized business models that achieve consensus through code, cryptography, and technology protocols are demonstrating that none of us is as trustworthy as all of us,” explains Mike Bechtel, Deloitte’s Chief futurist. “In this world, digital natives are increasingly likely to demand higher-quality proof and higher order truth. Indeed, we anticipate tomorrow’s leaders to assert ‘chain or it didn’t happen.’ ”
This, of course, is the world of Web3, the exponents of which essay a future “in which the loudest voices can’t overshadow a single, immutable version of the truth, based on public blockchains,” according to Deloitte.
Organizations of all stripes may be able to cement their credibility, the consultancy suggests, by helping “reinvent” a decentralized internet because in our current environment of ever-increasing mistrust, blockchain and Web3 could power “trustless” systems that decentralize data to rebuild trust.
Deloitte elaborates, arguing that digital trust issues today undermine confidence in traditional institutions and the technology that powers them.
Yet decentralized systems, applications, and business models add “a protective layer,” enabling organizations to close the digital trust gap by helping them create “a single version of irrefutable truth.” Such systems rely on cryptography- and code-driven consensus of systemwide users, rather than moderation by third-party intermediaries — without sacrificing data privacy.
The resulting shared, trusted record can be inspected by selected third parties but cannot be controlled by any single, central superuser.
Further benefits: A consortium of participants keeps the information up to date so that each participant maintains a copy of the updated, immutable database. People can securely store, share, and control their own tamper-proof credentials (such as personal health, education, voting records, etc.) in an encrypted digital wallet. Proof of identification stored in encrypted digital wallets could lead to more secure transactions.
What’s more, Deloitte claims, organizations can break down data silos to collaborate with external partners, unknown or untrusted parties, and competitors, without compromising privacy, confidentiality, security, or intellectual property.
This directly impacts media by validating something as genuine.
“In an era of deepfakes, AI-generated imagery, and alternative facts, seeing something with your own two eyes is not necessarily sufficient proof of the truth,” Deloitte notes.
“But if an entire community sees it on a public blockchain? Trustless, decentralized platforms could become an arbiter of truth: Chain or it didn’t happen.”
By changing how content is made, managed, protected, and monetized, the report continues, “Web3 could rescue us from its Web2’s obsession with clicks and likes. A disintermediated web has the potential to transfer power from intermediaries to producers and consumers.”
Creators gain too. In Web2, “digital” is synonymous with “abundant.” Nearly all digital content is infinitely shareable, legally or not. The infinite supply of content drives demand (prices and consumer attention) toward zero.
Web3 changes that. By introducing the notion of “digital scarcity,” Web3 architectures offer creators an opportunity to reassert some ownership and control of their content, data, profiles, and identities, with the ability to manage and monetize them across multiple websites and platforms rather than creating multiple copies.
Creators could lock access to a song, video, or other intellectual property so it’s only accessible via smart contract and programmable money, with the potential for revenue to be shared in real time.
With consumers in charge of their own buying and browsing data, blockchain could significantly disrupt digital advertising, too. In addition to giving consumers control over their data and who uses it — in itself a massive disruption — it could also help eliminate advertising fraud caused by internet bots and domain spoofing, which one research firm estimated as costing global advertisers US$68 billion by the end of 2022.
“Amid a crisis of faith in which seeing isn’t believing, and people can’t tell the truth from a lie, many of us have been waiting on a superhero: a person, company, or technology that might somehow serve as an unimpeachable arbitrator to help us settle quarrels and distinguish fact from fiction.”
Decentralized, trustless architectures are beginning to teach us that we are the heroes we’ve been looking for; and that none of us, in fact, is as trustworthy as all of us.