Do you really understand what NFTs and the blockchain are? Here’s an A-Z of tech terms



AMONG THE MANY issues society has needed to adapt to all through the trendy age is the consistently altering lexicon of digital discourse.

As purposes, applied sciences and softwares go out and in of use within the house of mere years, the language we use is rapidly changed by vaguely impenetrable terminology. Even for essentially the most engaged amongst us, it may be laborious to inform your knowledge out of your metadata and know what it means to be non-fungible. 

This month, The Good Data Undertaking is focusing on the new digital age and what the most recent developments in tech will imply for Eire and the EU. That can assist you perceive precisely what’s being mentioned, we’ve put collectively an A-Z of the phrases that might outline the following ten years.



On the coronary heart of the trendy web expertise are algorithms: equations devised by tech corporations equivalent to Meta, Google, Amazon and Spotify designed to place content material in entrance of your face within the hopes that you just interact with it — whether or not by clicking on it, watching it, or paying for it.

Algorithms are likely to prioritise engagement, which many imagine has led to the appearance of misinformation and decontextualised info as customers obtain content material that confirms their very own beliefs and biases, slightly than presenting a real reflection of the information. 


Blockchains are the cornerstone of the brand new digital period. A blockchain is a community of computer systems storing knowledge pertaining to any variety of issues, equivalent to monetary transactions, land and title data, medical knowledge, and many others. These networks of computer systems validating and storing transactions are designed to render centralised record-keeping methods out of date. 

People who keep blockchains are rewarded with cryptocurrency native to the blockchain they work with.  


Items of a cryptocurrency, equivalent to Bitcoin, are an asset that can be utilized in a lot the identical approach as fiat forex. They can be utilized to buy items and companies, they are often held as investments and they are often exchanged for different currencies and cryptocurrencies. As an unregulated instrument of worth, cryptocurrencies may doubtlessly shift energy from conventional monetary establishments and central banks globally. The place that energy would go is up for debate. 

It’s presently estimated that round half 1,000,000 Irish individuals personal some type of cryptocurrency.

Supply: The Explainer/SoundCloud


The purported philosophical argument made by proponents of Web3 is that the online because it at the moment exists is simply too centralised, with an excessive amount of energy within the fingers of the most important tech corporations.

Notionally, the blockchain could possibly be used to decentralise on-line companies in order that extra peer-to-peer transactions are potential, reducing out a perceived middle-man and permitting customers to stay answerable for their very own knowledge and their on-line lives.

It may be utilized by good entrepreneurs to easily re-centralise energy in their very own fingers, because the torch merely passes from the giants of Web2.0 to the giants of Web3.0.

Environmental impacts

For a quick, naive second, it may appear on the face of issues that shifting extra of the world into the digital house could be good for the atmosphere, decreasing the necessity for manufacturing within the bodily world. Sadly, it’s not that straightforward.

Reliance upon the digital world, blockchains, cryptocurrencies and the like requires an infinite quantity of power. As issues stand, knowledge centres in Eire use as a lot power as all the rural inhabitants. That is only going to increase, with €7 billion set to be invested in Irish knowledge centres over the following 4 years, a doubling of the present funding.

city-bank-network-hub-switches-data-link-cablesSupply: Alamy Inventory Photograph

Facial recognition

Because the digital world intertwines extra carefully with the bodily world, the usage of human biometric knowledge is turning into extra commonplace. Facial and fingerprint IDs to entry good gadgets is now the norm, and it appears inevitable that the know-how will solely turn out to be extra widespread.

Based on a recent poll carried out by Eire Thinks on behalf of The Good Data Undertaking, simply over half of Irish individuals don’t belief any organisation to make use of facial recognition knowledge.


By now, we’ve most likely all had an opportunity to turn out to be used to GDPR — even when we aren’t completely positive what it entails. Nonetheless, GDPR as a precept is a lynchpin of the EU’s method in the direction of curbing the facility of digital forces to amass, harvest and revenue from reams of consumer knowledge. Introduced into drive 4 years in the past, GDPR put tighter restrictions on knowledge controllers (equivalent to personal corporations), permits the general public to entry any of their private knowledge, and enshrined a proper to be forgot and have their personal knowledge destroyed. 

Lately, WhatsApp have been permitted to problem in court docket a €225 million effective for breach of GDPR.

Arduous to manage 

The thought behind the blockchain is that it’s, for essentially the most half, self-regulating. As a result of a community of computer systems is required to confirm every transaction, issues like possession and identification are confirmed by a consensus alongside the community of computer systems. The duty for verification being unfold throughout a community of nodes makes it laborious for the state to get in there and impose a special sort of order on it. 


So how is Eire getting ready for the approaching digital decade? Earlier this month, the Authorities printed The Digital Ireland Framework – an in depth blueprint containing Eire’s ambitions over the approaching years. 

Objectives embody shifting 90% of all public companies on-line by 2030, enhancing fundamental digital literacy to 80% from 56%, and having 90% of SMEs at “fundamental digital depth” by the top of the last decade.

Jack Dorsey

Founding father of Twitter Jack Dorsey is, together with Elon Musk, a significant participant within the tech world who’s overtly sceptical about what Web3.0 represents. Disputing the concept of Web3 as a decentralised, totally democratised thought, Dorsey final yr tweeted: “You don’t personal ‘web3.’ The VCs [venture capitalists] and their LPs [limited partners – the people who supply venture capitalists with funding] do. It is going to by no means escape their incentives. It’s finally a centralised entity with a special label. Know what you’re stepping into.”

Musk, extra bluntly, mentioned that Web3 “appears like bullshit.”

Killer app

Traditionally, a killer app refers to an software of such nice worth or reputation that it just about assures the success of the know-how with which it’s related. A present instance may embody VisiCalc – the primary ever spreadsheet programme, which spurred the success of non-public {and professional} computing. Builders everywhere in the world are at the moment concerned in a quiet race to develop the killer app for Web3.0.


Advocates of machine-learning tout such advances as helpful for the end-user (us). Efficient machine studying by search engines like google and apps that we use may, hypothetically, make it simpler for customers to search out no matter it’s they’re searching for on-line and lead extra environment friendly lives.

The trade-off, in fact, is that the extra these companies learn about you, nicely, the extra they learn about you. Machine studying can solely be achieved by the absorption of reams of knowledge. This raises problems with privateness, and never everyone seems to be comfy being so carefully surveilled. 


The metaverse is a not an especially new idea, and even in its most fashionable iteration, it’s little greater than The Sims crossed with digital actuality. The aim of the metaverse is to permit extra of societal interplay to happen on-line – job interviews, conferences, social events. Whether or not it takes off will rely completely on whether or not or not the general public accepts it, and the jury is squarely out.

Supply: Meta/YouTube


Non-fungible tokens may be poorly understood even amongst those that do perceive them, as a result of to many, they appear like a foul thought. A non-fungible token is a digital asset, for instance, a picture of an ape that you may use as your profile image on a social media web site. If that doesn’t actually make sense to you, I’m afraid that there isn’t all that rather more to it.

Proudly owning an NFT is like proudly owning a bit of artwork, in that it’s not likely in regards to the work itself, however about the concept that it’s an authentic – and as an alternative of the artists’ signature within the nook, you possibly can show your possession with a novel code that solely you personal. 

shutterstock_1932205373Supply: Shutterstock/Rokas Tenys

Is it potential for anybody to easily right-click and ‘Save Picture’ on pictures offered as NFTs? Sure, it’s. Nevertheless it’s not in regards to the picture, it’s in regards to the code. NFTs have introduced the paradox of worth into the digital age.


OpenSea is maybe the main mainstream market for NFTs — making it a daily goal for hackers. Final week, €1.7 million value of NFTs have been stolen from OpenSea customers earlier than being returned. The corporate is at the moment estimated to be value $13.3 billion {dollars}.

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Whereas it is probably not essentially the most technical time period, permissionlessness is one that can most likely nonetheless sound fairly unusual to a mass viewers.

Proper now, the online features in such a approach that you just search permission from some authority – an organization or a authorities – for nearly each interplay you undertake. Typically this includes accepting cookies, signing up, memberships, subscriptions, getting into your electronic mail tackle and a password and different particulars about your life. In a permissionless internet, notionally no less than, identities might be tied to a blockchain and built-in in such a approach that your on-line presence is an computerized extension of your individual self.


Earlier this yr, the European Parliament passed the Digital Services Act – an try to rein in among the unchecked behaviour of massive tech corporations. Among the many provisions of the act are necessities for social media corporations to be extra clear about their algorithms and assume extra duty for the content material printed on their platforms. 

The DSA may also search to place in place mechanisms whereby main tech corporations may be audited and held accountable for his or her algorithmic selections. 

Semantic internet

The “authentic” Web3.0.

On the outset of the web, knowledge was communicated in such a approach that it was significant to people. The ‘semantic internet’ refers to an iteration of the web whereby knowledge is made significant to machines, permitting webpages to primarily perform as clever servants. Tim Berners-Lee himself referred to the semantic internet as Internet 3.0, however it by no means took off. 


See permissionlessness.

Web3 sells itself as ‘trustless’ which is a approach of describing the direct, peer-to-peer nature of future on-line transactions. As an alternative of ‘trusting’ a 3rd occasion app to confirm your identification or handle the change of cash or an asset, this could be dealt with by the blockchain algorithm and encryption.

Common speech translation

One in every of Meta’s major initiatives as a part of its headlong leap into the brand new internet is a real-life model of the Babel fish from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Information To The Galaxy. That’s to say, communication software program that may instantly translate any language to every other. 

“The flexibility to speak with anybody in any language — that’s a superpower individuals have dreamed of eternally, and AI goes to ship that inside our lifetimes,” mentioned Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month.

Digital actual property

Digital actuality is one other space of tech that has promised a lot however delivered – nicely, not as a lot because the flip of the millennium. Proponents of the metaverse are hoping funding, each monetary and emotional, may be pushed by digital actual property — spending precise, non-Sims cash on digital structure, outfits, and even “land” (Minecraft-esque tracts of digital house) will entice buyers and customers to digital actuality. 


The Central Financial institution of Eire doesn’t regulate cryptocurrency, and says that cryptocurrencies don’t meet the standards for authorized tender. Due to massive value fluctuations, it can’t be thought-about a retailer of worth. Its instability additionally makes it an unreliable medium of change.    

There’s nonetheless a really agency wariness round these newest disruptions to the present financial system. The overwhelming majority of companies don’t settle for cryptocurrency and just about no one takes their wage in cryptocurrency.


Whereas the web now looks like inevitable infrastructure, the advances of Internet 3.0 will finally be both buoyed or constrained by public participation in them. Tech corporations rise and fall with the modifications they make to their consumer expertise, and in the event that they fumble the ball on their newest ambitions, the general public merely gained’t need to use the blockchain, or the metaverse, or no matter else is deliberate. Finally, advances within the digital house will rely on societal consensus. 


A person who wants no introduction. The founder and CEO of Fb is among the key figures main the cost into the brand new digital age. Mark Zuckerberg has gone as far as to alter the identify of his firm to Meta and launched a simulation video of himself contained in the Metaverse. Up to now, no one has formed the twenty first Century’s digital panorama greater than Zuckerberg himself. Whether or not his position as chief architect of the long run survives the following decade stays to be seen. 

This work is co-funded by Journal Media and a grant programme from the European Parliament. Any opinions or conclusions expressed on this work is the writer’s personal. The European Parliament has no involvement in nor duty for the editorial content material printed by the venture. For extra info, see here.

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