AI and Web3 are blocking the traditional ways of making money. What will be the future means of striking gold?
AI and Web3 disrupt traditional money-making methods. What will be the future of wealth creation?
Author: Mu Mu
The internet, which has been around for more than 20 years, was once one of the most profitable industries. People gradually grasped the core business models of “traffic is king” and “content is king”, and there were different ways to make money from Web1.0 to Web2.0. Just when people thought they had a firm grasp on these core business models and believed they could “succeed with one trick”, they never expected that in recent years, Web3.0, which claims to reconstruct the internet, has emerged, and AI has almost flipped the table. Now we have to consider a common question: what will be the future source of profits when the old “tricks” may no longer be as effective?
01 From Web1.0 to Web3.0, a brief history of internet “gold rush”
Before the internet appeared, there were many ways to make money in human history, such as “information asymmetry” business and “selling water” business, etc. Later, the internet changed the way people obtain and transmit information, and many new profit models emerged. In Web1.0, a large amount of valuable information was uploaded to the internet for people to search, which to some extent reduced the threshold of information asymmetry. For example, Alibaba’s yellow pages at that time moved business opportunity information to the internet. At that time, there were few “netizens” but high business conversion rates. People made money as long as there were people, and the most important thing for internet companies at that time was user acquisition. The grassroots entrepreneurs (many of whom are now successful figures) piled information on the internet like crazy to get traffic from search engines and made their first bucket of gold. At that time, “traffic is king” was truly justified. In Web2.0, the internet application ecosystem exploded, and various platforms had a large number of users. Competition became intense. However, bringing in traffic did not necessarily lead to conversion. People gradually found that it became increasingly difficult to make money from traffic. It was like handing out business cards without knowing if the other party would throw them away, or asking someone to add WeChat during offline promotion but not knowing if the other party would delete the friend request. The key is to retain users in order to make money through a “steady stream”. Therefore, many platforms appeared that provided diverse content through user-generated content (UGC) to meet the needs of different users and increase stickiness. The user information obtained was used for advertising and other means of profit. Internet giants all shifted their focus from self-produced content to self-media platforms. WeChat public accounts, Baijiahao, Toutiao accounts, Sohu accounts… even banks and Alipay have started their own accounts. Self-media account owners only need to focus on providing high-quality content to receive traffic recommended by platform algorithms and share in advertising revenue, thus the saying “content is king” emerged. In Web3.0, the internet has become a mixed bag after years of “bloodshed”. People began to reject commercial information and advertisements from various platforms and became wary of internet giants that make a living by utilizing and selling user information. Even if users are retained and trust is gained to complete transactions, it has become increasingly difficult to do so. So, what if the users on the platform become a community of interests that are as “indispensable as family members”? By using equity tokens, everyone can become a “shareholder” of the platform, changing the way profits are distributed and becoming the true owner of data and assets, forming a win-win situation. Value comes from consensus, which is perhaps one of the profound understandings that everyone entering the world of cryptocurrencies will have. Perhaps we can simply summarize this phenomenon as “consensus is king”. Earlier this year, there was suddenly a strong wind blowing in the ChatGPT field, making people realize that AI is shaking up the core profit models of information asymmetry, traffic is king, and content is king. In fact, AI had already been involved since the Web1.0 era. Take continuously intelligent search engines, for example, they are allowing more and more non-specialized ordinary people to quickly obtain professional information from the internet, gradually breaking down the barriers of “information asymmetry”. At the same time, the emergence of AI-generated content poses a significant threat to “content is king”. Content producers have to compete with AI for their livelihoods… To summarize: Web1.0: Traffic is king – websites provide content and attract users. Web2.0: Content is king – users provide content, platforms are responsible for traffic and revenue sharing, and retain users. Web3.0: Consensus is king – platforms belong to users, users participate in co-building, becoming “family members”. AI flips the table: Start over?
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02 AI and Web3 Gold Rush Trends
In the previous text, there is a unique connection between the evolution of profit models from Web1.0 to Web3.0. So in the era of simultaneous development of Web3.0 and AI, what kind of sparks may be generated? The so-called Internet thinking is not fixed, it quietly changes with technological innovation. We only need to grasp the main trend and explore it. (1) The trend of integration between AI and Web3. AI tools undoubtedly provide tremendous help to humans, but the destructive power it brings is also very tricky. In fact, Web3 has begun to provide solutions. The recently discussed WorldCoin is a Web3 project founded by Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, based on his profound insights into the potential problems caused by AI. With the continuous deep exploration of AI by humans, it is inevitable that it will replace humans in completing a large amount of work. The large number of low-income people who lose their jobs will likely bring social unrest (such as zero-dollar purchases on the street). Although WorldCoin is controversial, the current best solution is the borderless UBI (Unconditional Basic Income) in the form of Web3, which is fair, open, and does not leak privacy. Regardless of the outcome, it is a forward-looking social experiment. AI not only does not contribute to the employment rate, but its super abilities will likely be fully utilized by giants. The oligarchs with a large amount of data will have unprecedented “power” concentration, and ordinary people will increasingly lack the power to resist. Various rights, such as people’s privacy, are becoming more and more difficult to guarantee. This is why regulators in various countries are closely watching issues such as AI, data, and privacy. At present, the solutions to these difficulties still rely on Web3 to solve. It directly hits the pain points of AI inherited from the Crypto underlying layer, such as the power distribution and privacy calculation capabilities. In addition, the demand for computing power brought by AI is a huge problem, and Web3 brings “cost-effective” distributed computing power supply. Conversely, Web3 problems, AI is also providing solutions, such as the “witch attack” of the “wool party” during the early token distribution in the Web3 community has always been a headache for entrepreneurial teams. Currently, some teams have used AI to screen big data and remove malicious “witch attack” addresses, making the early token distribution fairer and purer for the founding community. Web3 middleware such as Chainlink is exploring the use of AI to improve the quality of on-chain data and enhance the decision-making process through AI-driven smart contracts, and improve the overall trust and transparency of key infrastructure and economic processes. Generally speaking, the mutual integration and achievement between AI and Web3, or between AI and blockchain, is a major trend and opportunity in the future. (2) The entertainment industry, including the metaverse, is becoming more and more important. In the future, most of the work of humans will be handed over to AI, or after people’s work efficiency is greatly improved, people will inevitably have more and more non-working time. As the saying goes, “When people are not full, they only have one worry. When they are full, they have countless worries.” In the future, there will be a variety of entertainment industries to meet people’s spiritual needs. At the same time, many hard jobs that require “sun and rain” will be handed over to AI robots, and most people will choose to complete various tasks comfortably in the metaverse. This is also a natural evolution process of human society changing life through tools. (3) AI+Web3 Internet platform. In the future, unmanned driving, drones, industrial robots, restaurant and hotel robots, and other intelligent and popular future technologies, as mentioned earlier, giants can save a lot of labor costs and expand indefinitely by controlling these artificial intelligence software and hardware. This will lead to the problem of excessive power of the giants, which the regulators and the people do not want to see. It will definitely be restricted, which lays the foundation for the establishment of a new “sharing economy” platform by Web3’s DAO organization. At the same time, some Internet giants will also be forced to make changes at the bottom, decentralize power, become tool developers, or become members of DAO, and join the co-creation of open platforms. Imagine a Web3 DAO organization that establishes a “Meituan” company, with the foundation deploying take-out platforms, connecting merchants, and purchasing delivery robots, etc., publicly and transparently accounting for every penny of income and expenditure, and each DAO member is both a user and a “shareholder.” Moreover, owners of self-driving cars can also join the Web3 sharing economy ride-hailing platform. When owners don’t need their cars, they can rest at home, and self-driving cars can automatically accept orders and go out to “work and make money” on the platform… Internet companies can also customize personalized life assistant robots that meet people’s living habits and satisfy various needs. This is a bit like the video recommendation algorithm behind Douyin. It knows what type of videos each person likes and keeps recommending them… At the same time, it would be terrifying if highly intelligent
AI and Web3, both have their respective focuses and can complement each other to serve humanity. Web3 is a necessity for the continued development of AI. If AI wants to develop, it is highly likely that it cannot bypass Web3. In fact, we don’t need to worry about being replaced by AI or fear its abilities. Instead, we should strive to adapt and adopt it. Each wave of new technology brings about changes in rules and also brings more new demands. The thinking about AI and Web3 continues, and we look forward to exploring more new trends and opportunities.