Bryan Cantrill and Adam Leventhal recently hosted a Twitter Spaces discussion (guest starring my colleague Steve O’Grady) where they invited people to make industry predictions. While I wasn’t able to participate live, I enjoyed the format and wanted to weigh in.
The rules were: make a one year, three year, and six year prediction, only one of which can be related to Web3.
1 and 3 Years
My one and three year predictions are intertwined.
My one year prediction is that in the short-term, AWS in particular and the top three US-based hyperscale cloud providers more broadly, will do little about their current egress pricing structure.
In three years, however, I expect that the mounting pressure from CDN/edge providers (notably Cloudflare, who has been publicly aggressive in attacking AWS’ egress pricing) and competitive clouds (like Oracle) will force a response. My prediction is that in the next three years, we will see lower egress prices from AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, and I predict that Google will move first.
Six years from now, I suspect that politics will increasingly be at the forefront of how we build technology, and there will be a limited number of places where developers can “just build” without the political ramifications of what and how they build being key considerations of their work. There will be fewer chances for software to be perceived as agnostic.
I think there are three things that signal that direction of travel.
We already see a rise of techno-nationalism. This is already apparent in areas like data residency requirements and GDPR-esque regulations, but also one thing in particular that caught my eye was China’s response to Alibaba’s handling of the Log4j vulnerability. I think it is increasingly likely that we will see sovereign nations taking interest in software as part of their national interests. As Kelsey Hightower phrased it in the Twitter Spaces chat, one pending trend is “technology as sovereignty.”
The increasing importance and use of AI/ML throughout society will increase the technologists’ obligation to think through impacts of what’s being built and how it might be used. Discussions around the neutrality (or lack thereof) of data and models will become more commonplace, and there will be a rising demand for accountability for outcomes around what is built.
The rise of Web3 is inherently political. I have been deeply skeptical of both the technology and social merits of the trend. (Biases on the table: as someone who worked as a DBA in the past, it’s really hard for me to get excited about blockchain as a solution, and as someone who worked in finance in the past, it’s even harder for me to quell the “THERE IS A REASON WE HAVE FINANCIAL REGULATIONS” voice in my head. Societally, we moved away from bearer-based assets for a reason.) I might be skeptical, but I am also of the opinion that the horse has left the barn; Web3 isn’t going anywhere. There are too many technologists around the world working on it (including some people I very much respect), there are too many people invested in it, and there are too many global use cases to reasonably expect this genie to ever go back in the bottle.
Politics are inherently tied to Web3 because of the motives of the players in the space. The clearest motivation for people in the Web3 / decentralized apps space is financial incentivization. (Some of this is VC-driven ‘market making to drive my investment value.’ Some of it is people who live in places where their centralized currencies have collapsed and this is the only viable alternate store of value. Some of it is flat out grifters. Some of it is gambling. Some of it people making a good-faith bet in hopes of finding a path to financial stability.) In a world where the desperate and the Machiavellian collide, you can expect conversations about regulation. (The need for it. The reason why people don’t want it. The reasons “it will never work.” The ways people get around it. etc) Regulation is inherently political.
The other reason people are interested in decentralized apps is because they want more power over what is built and who controls it; there is a great deal of hand-wringing about Facebook and Twitter in particular. The political motivations for building a new kind of decentralized application are often a front and center consideration to building it in the first place, and the politics are often the reason for the technology choice. (There are plenty of arguments to be made about whether decentralized apps actually change the existing power structure in any meaningful way, but that’s an argument for another day.)
All of which is to say: for pretty much any motive one might have for being in the Web3 space, politics is going to be a part of it.
So there you have it: I predict that some vendors might change their pricing and there will be a sociopolitical reckoning of how we build technology. Totally proportional predictions.
Disclosure: AWS, Cloudflare, Google Cloud, Microsoft, and Oracle are RedMonk clients.
Image credit: Licensed from Dmitriy – stock.adobe.com