building in web2 vs web3; hot topics in NFTs, art, AI; more
1. Building: On going from web2 to web3; art, AI, NFTs; cycles of tech 🎧
Chris Dixon, Kevin Rose
The latest episode of our podcast ‘web3 with a16z’ is a tour through tech trends & hot topics both within and beyond crypto — including art, AI, the evolution of mediums including blockchains; a deep dive on NFTs, artists, communities; debates around cc0, modding vs. copying, royalties; plus role of brands, DAOs, wisdom of crowds; and much more.
The hallway-style conversation took place this week in our Los Angeles office between Chris Dixon (a16z crypto founding general partner, former entrepreneur) and Kevin Rose (co-founder of Proof Collective/ Moonbirds, Digg, more). Their discussion is not just a journey through time — long cycles of computing, web2 to web3 — and through place — LA, SF, NYC — but a journey into "the age of wonders". Are we at the end of (computing) history, or at the beginning? You decide... but only after listening to this conversation.
listen to the episode
2. Fundamentals: On consensus ▶️
Consensus describes the protocol for coordinating and maintaining a blockchain; it’s how a decentralized group of nodes/ machines reach agreement on the correct condition (state, validity, more) — including who owns what at any time. So in these latest videos from the a16z Crypto Research seminar series, summer faculty fellow Andrew Lewis-Pye (professor in the Department of Mathematics at the London School of Economics) helps build an understanding of classic consensus protocols from the ground up in a “conversational yet rigorous” manner.
The videos provide a bootcamp of sorts for understanding consensus: The first one includes an overview of the Byzantine agreement problem; addresses communications channels, faulty processors, and dealing with an adversary; and discusses Byzantine broadcast when there are bounded message delays. The second video introduces state machine replication (SMR) — the problem that blockchain protocols are designed to solve — and demonstrates how to reduce Byzantine agreement to SMR in a partially synchronous setting. Lewis-Pye also describes in detail the widely used Tendermint protocol.
*plus bonus resource*:
See also Consensus in 50 pages [pdf] notes from Lewis-Pye that aim “to give a clear explanation of key results from the classical consensus literature”
3. Hot topics in regulation: On apps vs. protocols 🔥
The question is not whether there should or should not be web3 regulation — the question is, rather, at which layer of the tech stack does web3 regulation make the most sense? Because at its foundation, the internet depends upon open-source, decentralized, autonomous, and standardized protocols such as HTTP (data exchange for websites), SMTP (email), and FTP (file transfers) to function.
By directing regulation toward apps or “clients” such as browsers and websites — instead of toward underlying communications protocols — governments allow innovation to grow, and internet services to flourish… while also putting necessary guardrails for consumers and others in place. The same rules that apply in web1 and web2 should apply in web3, argues a16z crypto’s general counsel and head of decentralization; moreover, thoughtful app-level regulation is the only feasible option.
--Sonal Chokshi, Robert Hackett, Tim Sullivan and the a16z crypto team
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