Semantic-rich NFTs: Circulatory Lifeline of Internet 3.0 Data Elements插图

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On October 25, 2023, the National Bureau of Statistics was officially unveiled, marking data as the fifth crucial factor of production following land, labor, capital, and technology. Data has become a pivotal factor driving economic and social development, linking trillion-dollar markets in commerce, taxation, finance, human resources, and more. In the wave of the data element market, how does Web3.0 aid in connecting myriad scenarios for myriad enterprises and individuals?

On November 1, 2023, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and a tech innovator, questioned Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) during the latest episode of a podcast hosted by Joe Rogan. His query sparked widespread attention, highlighting that these blockchain-stored NFTs are essentially URLs pointing to JPEGs rather than digital assets directly encoded on the blockchain. Similar to a pawn ticket being tightly linked to a pawnshop, where the ticket is the sole proof for redeeming the pledged item, an NFT bound to a specific blockchain holds its value only within that binding. Once the binding blockchain ceases to exist or becomes inaccessible, the ownership of the NFT dissipates.

It’s evident that current iterations of NFTs face significant limitations in market logic and security. This raises the question: How can NFTs be strengthened to become more practical, carry greater value, demonstrate more utility, and align better with the forms of digital economic markets?

The unbound NFT patent, “A method for unbound naming semantic integrated representation NFT and its working method,” authorized by Peking University’s Shenzhen Graduate School’s “Shenzhen Content-Centric Networking and Blockchain Key Laboratory (ICNLAB)” in 2022, provides a unique perspective on addressing the challenges mentioned above within its conceptual framework. This patented invention combines the semantic capabilities of data entity NFTs and Named Data Networking (NDN), enabling semantic information carried by data to be parsed and facilitating data circulation across multiple chains at the network layer. This innovation achieves openness, fluidity, and inclusivity of digital assets, establishing interactions without dependency on a specific blockchain. The Internet 3.0 architecture based on the principles of IEN (Intelligent Ecosystem Network) potentially opens a gateway to resolving the prevailing limitations of NFTs, envisioning an open, unbound, multi-party, multi-level data element transaction application market. (For more about IEN NFT extensions, refer to the extended reading under the Baidu entry “Intelligent Ecosystem Network”.)

1. Unbound NFTs: Loosening the dependency on ‘chains’

Traditional NFTs are typically bound to specific blockchains, restricting the free circulation of digital assets and the value circulation of associated data elements. Is “centralization” versus “decentralization” also a set of paradoxes? Unbound NFTs intriguingly break this limitation by no longer relying on a specific blockchain but circulating across multiple chains. This lack of binding implies that digital assets are no longer restricted by the risks of a single blockchain, exploring solutions to the dominance of a single logic in blockchain. This innovation brings more possibilities to the market space of property rights assets, protecting data integrity, reducing single-point failures in decision-making, and avoiding the spread of distrust in networks to become multi-point distrust.

For instance, an owner of a digital artwork wishes to trade or showcase it across different blockchains. Unbound NFTs allow this digital artwork to move seamlessly from one blockchain to another (similar to how a book listed on Jingdong can seamlessly be sold on Taobao), without concerns about the compatibility issues among different chains. The lack of binding resembles the internet, allowing cross-domain circulation between various circulation domains, providing greater freedom for owners and creators of digital artworks.

2. Encapsulated NFTs: Decoupling the tight relationship between on-chain and off-chain

The IEN NFT principle introduces the design concept of encapsulated NFTs, which holds significance for identification, certification, exchange, and other operations involving digital assets. Traditional NFTs are usually bound to their native chains and, as Musk mentioned, merely serve as mappings of ownership. Encapsulated NFTs, grounded in “autonomous distributed computing,” employ a protocol design centered around the data itself, enabling a native distributed nature that enhances flexibility in the relationship between on-chain and off-chain data, supporting various operational semantics.

Encapsulated NFTs directly package metadata and the digital asset itself into an independent, semantically attributed, and irreplaceable digital entity, freely circulating both on-chain and off-chain. This reduces constraints on cross-chain interoperability, ensuring that data asset owners can exercise greater autonomy over their assets without worrying about choosing a specific blockchain. Encapsulated NFTs can accommodate rich metadata, making digital assets more compatible with other data or services. This provides more scalability for applications in identity verification, data management, and other fields.

3. Semantic-rich NFTs: New heights in the circulation of valuable data elements

The most striking aspect is the semantic-rich NFT design implied within the Intelligent Ecosystem Network. This novel NFT not only preserves the unique value attribute of digital assets but also supports the integration of rich semantic information. For instance, users’ identities, content, and data could be envisaged as integrated data asset entities with rich semantic information in the future TrustVerse era, accommodating valuable data elements and digital assets, flexibly expanding more characteristic information. This establishes a certain technical architectural prototype for the property-based AIGC digital civilization in the Web 3.0 era, where property rights are a prerequisite.

Semantic-rich NFTs: Circulatory Lifeline of Internet 3.0 Data Elements插图

Schematic diagram of the evolution of rich semantic NFT

For example, one could store their identity information as a semantic-rich NFT, including their ID, driver’s license, passport, and associated verification data. This enhances security and convenience for identity verification while ensuring the safety of personal data.

Additionally, semantic-rich NFTs offer more innovative opportunities in digital content, artwork, media, and other fields. Digital content can carry information about its creators, copyright details, and additional metadata, providing increased value and traceability.

In summary, the advent of IEN NFTs brings revolutionary improvements to the NFT domain. The concepts of unbound, encapsulated, and semantic-rich NFTs make NFTs more advanced and practical while addressing the limitations and challenges faced by current NFTs. With the gradual application of these innovations, digital assets will embrace a more open and secure future, paving the way for broader paths in the development of the digital economy. This is poised to transform NFTs from merely being “URLs pointing to JPEGs” into genuine digital assets, bringing forth more opportunities and possibilities for the digital world.

As Academician Wang Jian stated, infrastructure should be inclusive and affordable. NFTs going “on-chain” shouldn’t give the impression of falling into a trap. Semantic-rich NFTs become the “lifeline” supporting the circulation of data elements in the new world of Web 3.0, offering new strategies for solving the challenges of future network rights, quantity rights, and responsibility, providing a digital era Chinese-style modernization.

Article copyright © Shenzhen Content-Centric Networking and Blockchain Key Laboratory ICNLab

作者 ienlab2023

IEN-"Intelligent Eco Networking"