What will the Internet look like by year 2025? This was precisely the question to The Pew Research Center when asked by a group of "thinkers in science and technology," as reported by The Wall Street Journal. This question came at the right juncture when the Internet turned 25 years on Wednesday.
As a head start, below is a concise explanation by The Pew Research Center of what can be expected from the research:
"Experts predict the Internet will become 'like electricity' - less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people's lives for good and bad." Here are some of the responses from "Digital Life in 2025" as reported by WSJ. The complete report can be found on The Pew Research Center's site.
Devices might have their own patterns of communication, "social networks,' which they use to share information. As David Clark, senior research scientist at MIT puts it, "more and more, humans will be in a world in which decisions are being made by an active set of cooperating devices. The Internet (and computer-mediated communication in general) will become more pervasive but less explicit and visible."
Uninterrupted Connectivity 24/7
"There will be increased franchise and information sharing. There will be changes to business models to adapt to the economics of digital communication and storage. We may finally get to Internet voting, but only if we have really strong authentication methods available. Privacy must be improved but transparency about what information is retained about users also has to increase. More business will be born online with a global market from the beginning. Massive open online courses will become important revenue streams," Vint Cerf, Google vice president, wrote.
Wearable Devices Doubling as Personal Medical Assistant
According to Aron Roberts, software developer at the University of California, Berkeley, "We may well see wearable devices and/or home and workplace sensors that can help us make ongoing lifestyle changes and provide early detection for disease risks, not just disease." He writes, "We may literally be able to adjust both medications and lifestyle changes on a day-by-day basis or even an hour-by-hour basis, thus enormously magnifying the effectiveness of an ever more understaffed medical delivery system."
Education as a Powerful Tool
According to Hal Varian, chief economist for Google, "The biggest impact on the world will be universal access to all human knowledge. The smartest person in the world currently could well be stuck behind a plough in India or China. Enabling that person - and the millions like him or her - will have a profound impact on the development of the human race. Cheap mobile devices will be available worldwide, and educational tools like the Khan Academy will be available to everyone. This will have a huge impact on literacy and numeracy and will lead to a more informed and more educated world population."
The World That we Might 'Not' Want to Live in
Llewellyn Kriel, CEO of TopEditor International Media Services, wrote, "Everything - everything - will be available online with price tags attached. Cyber-terrorism will become commonplace. Privacy and confidentiality of any and all personal will become a thing of the past. Online 'diseases' - mental, physical, social, addictions (psycho-cyber drugs) - will affect families and communities and spread willy-nilly across borders. The digital divide will grow and worsen beyond the control of nations or global organizations such as the UN. This will increasingly polarize the planet between haves and have-nots. Global companies will exploit this polarization. Digital criminal networks will become realities of the new frontiers. Terrorism, both by organizations and individuals, will be daily realities. The world will become less and less safe, and only personal skills and insights will protect individuals."
Switch from 'Conservative' to 'Connected and Well-Informed' Government
Paul Babbitt, an associate professor at Southern Arkansas University, said, "Governments will become much more effective in using the Internet as an instrument of political and social control. That is, filters will be increasingly valuable and important, and effective and useful filters will be able to charge for their services. People will be more than happy to trade the free-wheeling aspect common to many Internet sites for more structured and regulated environments."
"What happens the first time you answer the phone and hear from your mother or a close friend, but it's actually not, and instead, it's a piece of malware that is designed to social engineer you. What kind of a world will we have crossed over into? I basically began as an Internet Utopian (think John Perry Barlow), but I have since realized that the technical and social forces that have been unleashed by the microprocessor hold out the potential of a very Dystopian world that is also profoundly in egalitarian. I often find myself thinking, 'Who said it would get better?'" John Markoff, the senior Science writer at the New York Times, said.
What do you think will 2025 and beyond be like?