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Three Ethical Sectors Leading the Web3 Space

The web3 space is generally thought of as a purely STEM-driven endeavour, involving very little critical discourse from the humanities. As a result, many outsiders dismiss this field as a cold and highly calculated environment where hard evidence and results come first, and ethical and social ideas have less significance.

This is, of course, false.

The notion of web3 is SO much more than a technology stack, it is a full-blown socio-technological ideology, fitted with its own ideals, goals, trajectory, and telos.

And throughout all of this runs a healthy dose of ethical discourse. As a web3 ethicist, it is my duty to accentuate these elements, and bring light to complications and concepts that need more moral consideration. With that in mind, let’s explore three areas in this space that I believe have a very strong ethical core driving them.

Decentralized Education

There are people online who are working to create a more welcoming and open educational system. They are doing this by creating educational institutions that are decentralized in nature, meaning that they do not have the same hierarchical structures as traditional schools and universities. These would usually be run in the form of a DAO.

A decentralized education network places the needs of the student first, making the experience driven by (and tailored to) the people who enrol on the courses. This means the students lead the curriculum, the methods of learning, the discourse, and overall the methods they are assessed by.

The reason these networks exist is because people are becoming aware that traditional education is faulty, and that it is limited by strict curriculums and rigid hierarchies. People want an alternative that is more people-centric and open to change.

It is still early days for this sector, so it is hard to say how these will compare to centralized education centres, but if they work then they could become a powerful and well-regarded alternative to the status quo.


Proof-of-personhood blockchains are networks that are able to provide one vote per person, as opposed to other blockchains that allow people to gain votes by staking more money or buying better crypto-mining tools. The aim is to build a system that cannot be exploited by those who have the most money, making them plutocracy resistant. This is necessary if we ever want blockchain tech to allow for fair voting that incentives all users from all economic backgrounds.

The way proof-of-personhood blockchains work is that they grant voting rights to people who they deem to be genuine people (and not bots or duplicate accounts). As they are decentralized, they also do this without the need for anybody to provide compromising data such as photo IDs or other bank statements.

One company I’m working with, called Idena, is a proof-of-personhood blockchain that handles this by having validators complete simple common-sense tests that are designed to be easy for humans but hard for computers.

One interesting outcome of blockchains like this is that they can then be used to distribute universal basic income (UBI). This is because a set amount of money can be given to every account without there being any means-testing or weighting in any way, and because nobody can have more than one account that means nobody will be able to cheat the system.

Decentralized Science

With a new interest in the field of science (particularly health and biology) due to the pandemic, there has been a push for experiments and studies to be conducted that are in the public interest. The only problem is that most studies only get funded by centralized corporations or universities– it is not the norm for the community to raise money for specific studies. Usually, a company only funds research if they think it will be helpful to them on an economic level, and that in itself creates a conflict of interest where research is only ever conducted when it will improve the profit margins of those who raised money for it.

Decentralized science aims to fix this by making community-led funding easier. This means that people can raise money for the research that they deem important, even if it does not have an economic incentive. Not only this, but the decentralized science space also helps to track the progress of a research piece, and monitor how certain experiments are handled and how certain data is logged. It essentially makes the world of science more visible to the general public, removing any smoke and mirrors that prevent the average person from engaging.

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