• SBTs: Personal CVs in NFT-like form
• SBTs are designed to merge our analog and digital personalities
• Success for the SBTs will depend on the characteristics of the metaverse
Soulbound tokens (SBTs), like NFTs (non-fungible tokens), may soon go through the roof, Buterin speculates. But what is behind this new cryptoid?
SBTs – the latest hit from crypto mastermind Buterin?
Vitalik Butterin is the best known proponent of the new token-class SBTs. Buterin has become known as the mastermind behind the Ethereum blockchain and the associated cryptocurrency Ether, whose market value is surpassed only by the original cyber currency Bitcoin. Buterin has thus proven its originality sufficiently – it is therefore not surprising that the crypto scene looks very closely at what innovations the crypto entrepreneur is planning next time. On May 10, 2022, the Ethereum founder described his latest idea in a 37-page research paper he co-published with Microsoft specialists E. Glen Weyl and Flashbots Puja Ohlhaver.
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What is an SBT?
Buterin, Weyl and Ohlhaver present the introduction of Soulbound Tokens (SBTs), loosely translated “tokens bound to the soul”. SBTs can best be described as NFT-like CVs (CVs), which transfer the personal achievements such as educational qualifications from “real” people to the multidimensional digital sphere (Web3). So everyone has access to their most important documents in the metaverse. Buterin emphasizes that these can neither be falsified by other users nor by larger institutions. According to “Block Builders”, Buterin’s vision is that digital identities in the future must be organized decentrally in order to be credible and at the same time enable innovation. Like NFTs, SBTs cannot be modified. The big difference between SBTs and NFTs, however, is that SBTs are not transferable, they are instead tied to a person.
SBTs are similar to CVs because – at least according to the current idea – they are mainly intended to symbolize university degrees, school degrees or prizes won. The institutions, such as universities, would themselves issue these SBTs to the graduates. This is to ensure the credibility of such documents.
However, the use of the SBTs should go beyond the documentation of educational qualifications. According to the project survey, an SBT could serve as a ballot paper in decentrally organized referendums, as “Business Insider” reports. In addition, job references and personal recommendations can be given with SBT. Environmental NGOs could issue SBTs to supporters as proof of their support. The SBTs would create an “extended curriculum vitae” documented in blockchain and stored in a “soul-purse”. Similar to a resume, people can delete individual SBTs from their “Soul Wallet”, for example, if they no longer want to highlight a previous activity.
How much personal information do we want in Metaverset?
The success of SBTs will primarily depend on the essential question of how much users want to reveal their true identity in the metaverse. Will the meta-verse become an extension of real life where we want to take our names, our family and professional situation and our life results? Or will Metaverse rather become a place of escapism, escapism, escape into a fantasy world? So far, this basic question can not be answered definitively.
If it were in fact the case that Metaverse would be a three-dimensional social network with true identities, then the SBTs would certainly have a good chance of success. Buterin, however, explicitly warns of potential dangers. SBTs can also lead to discrimination and bullying by acting as markers that “automatically weed out unpopular social groups or even target them for cyber attacks or physical attacks.” SBTs could also be used by autocratic regimes to label unpopular individuals. For this reason, it is of fundamental importance that each individual can decide for themselves which SBTs to anchor in their respective digital identities.
The latest megatrend?
Unlike NFTs, SBTs cannot be sold or bought in the digital realm. They are therefore personal and limited. As always, it will therefore depend on how the demand for the SBTs develops. The competitive situation should not be underestimated here: Big Tech companies like Meta Platforms in particular, but also Apple or Amazon will probably also try to reveal the identity of real people in Metaverset. Unlike the SBTs, however, a centralized authority will then be responsible for this, which can lead to major data protection concerns. Not surprisingly, these IT giants are also interested in profits. However, companies specifically targeting the crypto sector, such as the NFT marketplace OpenSea or the crypto exchange Coinbase, have meanwhile built up a large position of power in the cyber currency and the NFT world. The SBTs could thus offer a popular, non-profit-oriented and decentralized alternative.