In the previous article, we first saw that decentralized social networks need to solve the problem of user entry barriers in order to become popular. Once this barrier can be overcome, who wouldn't want to control their own identity, data, and social connections? Who would be willing to be at the mercy of others? The current problem is that the usage barriers of decentralized applications are still too high and inconvenient, which naturally keeps most people still relying on centralized services.
Next, I analyze that AI Agent may become a breakthrough in solving the aforementioned problems. Currently, LLM is developing rapidly, and AI Agent has become a product that is available to everyone. This means that this wave of AI may instead have a revolutionary role in decentralized applications, especially in social networking applications.
Is this enough though? I think after having these, decentralized social applications will grow, and people will immediately see the value and importance of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and decentralized identity. Although decentralized identity, blockchain, and cryptocurrency have long been developing, and many people have tried various ways to apply these technologies to decentralized social networks, because the previous premise has not been established, even if these technologies can solve some key issues, users still find it difficult to accept. But when the barriers to decentralized applications are no longer there, when people want decentralized applications, these important issues will inevitably arise, fortunately, we already have the answers in advance.
Decentralized Identity/Verifiable Credentials (DID/VC)
In the era of centralized services, our identities are all provided by service providers and 'borrowed' for our use. Although we don't own these identities and may encounter problems such as blockage, these are relatively unlikely to happen after all. The benefit of service providers managing these identities in a unified manner is that these identities cannot conflict with each other, and everyone will 'trust' the service providers. Therefore, we only need information on user profiles, qualifications, etc. as long as the service providers provide them.
In decentralized services, if there is no "centralized idenity providers" to assign identities to everyone, what should be done? Once decentralized, such problems will arise.
Think about it, in this decentralized real world, how many people have the same name? You definitely want to be able to freely name your own child, not having to get someone's approval or be notified by some "name management bureau" that your child is not allowed to be named Bob. Please choose to use Bob346, Bob456...
The DID of W3C is exactly born to solve such problems! Before this, there are different proposed standards and implementations such as OpenID, WebID, Indie ID, and so on. DID became a W3C recommendation in 2022, which is the standard of W3C! What's even better is that W3C DID not only considers the issue of such an identifier but also considers more verification issues, which is VC (Verifiable Credentials). The combination of DID and VC can perfectly solve the problem of identity in decentralized systems.
We ArcBlock worked within the W3C CCG (the community group behind the development of DID) since 2019. We also became a member of the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), working together to promote the implementation of DID/VC. In ArcBlock's system, we have taken an all-in approach since 2019, using DID for any ID involved in the ArcBlock system and adopting VC format for any certificates we need to use. Our platform has been running maturely for 5 years, going through numerous practical adjustments and iterations. When decentralized applications become popular demand, our platform shines.
Cryptocurrency (including NFT)
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs will play a crucial role in decentralized social platforms. In fact, the value of this part is significant and obvious, perhaps not needing further explanation. Here, I list a small part of the roles I have thought of:
- Payment without intermediaries
- Automated transactions for decentralized information, resources, and services
- Automatic service and resource negotiation and exchange between AI Agents - This will be very interesting, each Agent can negotiate and exchange resources and services with each other. If you want AI Agents to trade, undoubtedly cryptocurrency should be used!
- Passports, memberships, qualifications, etc. - these are the best use cases for DID/VC, and VC needs a carrier, undoubtedly NFT based on cryptocurrency is the most suitable carrier.
Actually, blockchain is an infrastructure level requirement for everything :
Decentralized application runtime environments (aka. ArcBlock platform) require the support of blockchain.
Cryptocurrencies require blockchain networks.
DID also needs a blockchain network as registry. Although W3C's DID does not strictly specify the requirement of using blockchain technology, adopting blockchain technology is the most feasible and accepted implementation for DID/VC.
With these needs mentioned above, using blockchain as infrastructure is inevitable. It's worth noting that decentralized social services may require not only one blockchain, but multiple different blockchains to solve different problems.