With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Now that we are all pumped and are talking about the new Spider-Man movie why don’t we pay tribute to one of the iconic dialogues by Uncle Ben — “With great power comes great responsibility”. Although growing up I loved a lot of things about the Spider-Man comic books and movies, this dialogue is something that has fascinated me the most as a grown-up.
Don’t worry I’m not here to spoil anything from the latest movie because, to be honest, I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet 😐 In this post, I will just try to decipher the meaning of this famous dialogue and its relevance to the crypto ecosystem when it comes to freedom and the self-sovereignty. However simple and a cliche this dialogue may sound, we can’t ignore its applicability everywhere in reality. In this modern era with so many opportunities and freedom to do whatever we want, at least in most parts of the world, everyone can be a superhero in one or the other way if they wanted to. But everyone isn’t a superhero, right? What could be the reason? One of the plausible arguments is that — it’s not the desire to gain the power that we lack but it’s the fear of handling the responsibility that comes with the power. Even the famous neurologist Sigmund Freud pointed out why many fear freedom:
“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility”
— Sigmund Freud
And this is true for most things in general. Let us now focus on its relevance to the crypto or web3 ecosystem.
We can all agree that the key innovation that’s offered by the web3 space is achieving censorship resistance by taking the power away from authority and redistributing it to the individuals — the power to make decisions, perform desired actions, and most importantly to own our data and identity. As pointed earlier, just as we gain all these powers there comes the responsibility to make rational decisions, perform rational actions and preserve the data and identity.
Since the crypto offers so much power to the user? Does that mean everyone is a superhero? And perhaps the most important question here is that are we ready to take the responsibility that comes with this power? Let’s try to answer this in a little more detail using the following question of why, what, and how concerning responsibility.
Why do we need to be responsible?
Being responsible is an important factor in any social activity. The activity will be successful when all the actors are responsible. When it comes to modern-day economic activity the majority of the responsibility is moved to a single party or a trusted party to make the activity efficient and to bring convenience. As we know that the key innovation in the web3 was to remove the reliance on a single party and transfer it to the trustless network, which means a majority of the responsibility is transferred to the individuals of the network. This is why a successful web3 protocol or network will require its participants to own the responsibility to collectively secure the decentralized network.
What is the responsibility?
Just like any successful society, a web3 ecosystem, even with the absence of authority should establish a social contract that is agreed collectively to govern the protocol in the most optimal way possible. Along with this collective responsibility, a common requirement for the user is to be entirely responsible for their identity through self custody wallets.
Self custody wallets are what are responsible for initiating independent transactions without relying on any third-party authentication services. Self custody or non-custodial wallets are also responsible for giving back the ownership of identity and data to the user. This is what makes each user powerful in the web3 ecosystem and helps to achieve self-sovereignty. But as we know the responsibility is immense here to safeguard these non-custodial wallets — to make sure that unauthorized actors don’t have access to the secrets of our wallets and to guarantee that there is a recovery plan in case of any tragic accidental events. These self-custodial responsibilities are one of the reasons why many are scared to put their wealth into the web3 space. This is not just a theory as various reports show that close to 20% of bitcoins are out of supply and the major reason is loss of access to the wallets.
How do we handle the responsibility?
Yes, the responsibilities of self custody are overwhelming to many even though it offers freedom and power. So, don’t we have a solution yet? We have come a long way in the crypto space and along the way we have found many solutions to handle this responsibility. But no one solution fits all our responsibility problems, and the available solutions may feel like ad-hoc at times. One of those prominent solutions is to use custodial services to provide wallet services and thus rely on trusted institutions in time for recovery. This may sound contradictory to the principles of crypto to eliminate trust but this is a popular choice at the moment to bring convenience to the user. So, is that it? Do we give up the freedom and power again for convenience to the trusted institutions? At this moment it may feel like it’s hard to bring convenience to crypto users without trusted parties but we are finding ways to find the right amount of convenience so that they can also enjoy the power of complete self custody.
There are plenty of solutions trying to find the best ways for users to handle this self custody responsibility. Multisig wallets, hardware wallets, password managers, and other custodial backup solutions are a few of them. Again, the problem is no one solution that fits all requirements.
This is why we are building Safient protocol to bring convenience for self custody with utmost priority yet preserving user safety. Safient provides a secure and convenient way to backup, and inherit crypto wallets without any trust in the custodial services. We achieve this with our trustless protocol guarded by the incentivized actors who ensure the safe backup of the crypto wallets and enable easy inheritance by beneficiaries. This is how Safient promises to give power back to the users by taking care of self custody responsibilities. Ultimately our goal at Safient is to make each user a superhero without bowing down to the responsibility fear.
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Resources and roadmap: https://resources.safient.io