Today we have the pleasure of introducing Gian Luca Comandini, entrepreneur, technology popularizer, and Italian university professor. He is also the founder of You & Web, owner of Cointelegraph Italy and The Blockchain Management School, and is a member of the government task force that has the task of outlining the national strategy in the blockchain sector.
How will the Blockchain revolutionize the world of tomorrow? What will be the activities we carry out every day that will most change in the way we practice them?
If we rely on past data, before the advent of the internet, 100% of our daily life had a physical output. After this, and again later with social media, digital's role has gained importance in our lives. We can estimate that in the future, with the advent of web3, 75% of our activities will be digital. That means that aspects such as our interpersonal relationships and pastimes will have a virtual dimension. By 2030, all of this could be achieved: it is estimated that by then, around 500 billion smart devices will be connected to the internet globally, so each of us will interact with over sixty of them daily.
Thanks to the Blockchain, the transition from Web2 to Web3 satisfies human's need to be the owner of the data they previously provided to large companies. Today we talk about Metaverse, while until a few years ago, there were Second Life and The Sims. The difference is that when the latter was born, the Blockchain and NFTs did not yet exist, so there was no opportunity to eternally and immutably bind an asset generated by us or used in the virtual world. Then, just as it was initially feared that artificial intelligence could surpass human intelligence, in the context of the Blockchain, the same effect will be realized when our virtual life will be worth more than the physical one. Today we buy clothing, and tomorrow there will be NFTs, with the difference that production costs will be almost negligible. Therefore, the Blockchain must not be considered as a technology per se; the Blockchain and the Metaverse are rather moments in which technological evolution will allow us to draw greater value even from a virtual life, complementary to the physical one. The Blockchain will be used wherever there is a need to manage a large amount of data, wherever transparency and certainty are required.
The health, insurance, and financial sectors will be the ones that will benefit most. Private rights, privacy, and entertainment will be impacted, as well as gaming. Maybe the craftsmen once did not need a website, yet today they need it to sell; similarly, in the future, it will be necessary to open up to Web3.
How will the Metaverse develop? What are the limits that currently prevent its realization?
If we rely on the estimations of the main channels, like Zuckerberg for example, the development will take about 10 years. At the same time, many analysts assess that in 7-8 years the market may already be worth a trillion dollars. It is important to underline that when we talk about the Metaverse today, we are referring to something not yet concrete: the investments announced so far are mainly marketing operations.
In any case, the central question is to understand that we cannot have the Metaverse until the operators themselves (users, companies) really understand what it is: a moment in which the communities will interact in new ways, accessing different experiences that are not possible in real life. I don't think it will take a long time to see mass adoption. Facebook's metaverse, Horizon, was announced in October 2021 without being developed in the slightest; from that moment to today, about 10 billion dollars in investments have been raised, the platform is in the testing phase and currently has about 300,000 users.
Will DAOs really be the organizations of the future as some claim? Could it be said that there is the possibility of living, one day, in a society in which DAOs will be extremely widespread, but will not change anything on the practical side?
Today we have seen the expansion of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in response to the banking failure of the 2008 crisis; it is likely that we will see a development of DAOs in response to the failure of centralized governance of political parties. In a certain sense, in many countries, including Italy, political experiments were born needing a solidarity policy, from below, in response to the errors committed from above. I think that the natural evolution of DAOs will be to move from a Web3 plan to a physical one, in which they are used as means of political or decision-making processes within the boards of directors of many companies. I am convinced that this will be the development: every day we see more and more people using DAOs and entering this world.
What are Central Bank Digital Currencies? Do you think they could pose, in the future, a threat to traditional cryptocurrencies?
CBDCs represent the most ridiculous response of central banks to the proliferation of cryptocurrencies to date. According to central banks, CBDCs could represent a barrier to the advancement of cryptocurrencies, whereas in reality, they will only represent a boost in demand for them. If institutions such as central banks oblige citizens to use digital currencies, those who approach for the first time to this world will instead use the most established cryptocurrencies already on the market. CBDCs are nothing more than cash in a digital legal tender, which allows anyone to make payments and exchange currency even without having access to a bank account. It makes me smile that they have been announcing this for many years: 2023 was the year scheduled for the launch of the CBDCs; however, we are now talking about 2024, the year in which a trial lasting 2-3 years will begin, and in which citizens will have a maximum spending limit of € 1000 in digital currency. This is a slow move, considering that in 2028 we could safely have all our assets in Bitcoin, the cadaster will be based on the blockchain, and we will all own virtual lands. To date, in 2022, the ECB's digital euro, the Fed's dollar, the digital rupee in India, and the digital renminbi in China have all been announced, but only China has already launched the program and implemented its state blockchain. For the rest, the other countries that have announced that they will release their CBDC are all countries that have had enormous monetary crises lately or in the past decades. Recently, in Argentina, the minister of economy resigned, and there was a boom of Argentine citizens shifting their resources to cryptocurrencies. The only possible answer to a monetary and fiduciary crisis now is the blockchain. It seems difficult to me that central banks manage to direct people to CBDCs and not to, for example, Bitcoin. People invest in blockchain protocols as they are decentralized, while a central bank will never lose its centrality. Central banks will never compete with cryptocurrencies, it is a lost battle.
Considering the bear market we are experiencing in this period, do you think there will be consequences for the next technological developments? Also, what do you think are the projects that are most likely to survive?
As for today's bear market, in the last ten years, I have seen at least six or seven similar, not to mention the phrase "Bitcoin is dead" heard hundreds of times. Bear markets of this kind are welcome because they clean up the crypto market from scams. To date, we have more than 18000 existing cryptocurrency protocols. At least 90% of them do things that Bitcoin and other protocols already do better. The moment the crypto bubble will burst, liquidity will shift from useless protocols to those that will make sense to exist. At the moment, there are very few relevant and sound projects. In addition to Bitcoin, I would like to mention Algorand, which is Italian excellence, led by the most important cryptographer in the world. Then we have Solana, which is doing great. IOTA is also very interesting, as it is the only quantum-resistant blockchain, which will allow it to resist the quantum computer that in 10-15 years will be the basis of all blockchain protocols. So, we have many intriguing situations; however, we do not have the market that understands them and users that can exploit them. To date, unfortunately, most investors see cryptocurrencies just as a means for speculation and marketing.
What advice do you feel you can give to students like us on how to deal with this revolution?
You have to carry this revolution forward. To quote Nassim Taleb, do not be resilient, but antifragile and curious. Understand what is happening, study how the world is changing, adapt and use it to drive innovation, and not be afraid to take risks. Often, world evolution and technological innovation have been predicted by science fiction writers; reading and having an open mind is the only way to guess the future.
Authors: Luca Piunti, Matteo Giovannelli, Carlotta Rosselli, Andrea Tundo