Web3 represents a chance to reimagine the internet and rebuild platforms from fresh principles. But in order to do that, we need to agree on what those principles should be and why. The social and political philosopher John Rawls’s thought experiment known as the “veil of ignorance,” proposed in his influential 1971 work A Theory of Justice, is an apropos exercise for this moment as we set forth to build a new internet and design new economies. Rawls’s principles of justice would have us approach this as if we don’t know our positions in society: which family we were born into, how much wealth we have, and the like. Lacking such knowledge, builders are more likely to design systems rooted in fairness and consideration for all.
One of the most powerful narratives surrounding Web3 — a decentralized, blockchain-based internet ecosystem owned and operated by its users — is that it is a movement toward a better, fairer internet. Specifically, Web3 proponents envision an internet in which users can wrest back power from a small number of extractive, centralized institutions, and in which everyone with an internet connection can participate on a level playing field.