News / Science & Technology

    Experts Share Visions for Future Web, Tech

    FILE - A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw.
    FILE - A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw.
    As the Internet celebrates its 25th anniversary, a group of experts is trying to imagine how technology will influence our lives 10 years down the road.

    The report, which was done by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, combines the “imaginings” of some 1,500 experts.

    “It is striking how much consensus there is among these experts on what will change, and equally striking how varied their answers are when they are asked how those changes will impact and influence users in good and bad ways,” said Elon University Professor Janna Anderson, a primary author of the report.

    One recurring theme among the experts was the notion that the Internet may become less visible in daily life, becoming, instead, “like electricity.”

    This, the report said, could “produce vastly greater human and machine connectivity that will change everything from personal interactions to the decisions made by governments around the world.”

    Many of the predictions foreshadow positive developments, but there are certainly some concerns, according to the experts.

    Pew and Elon have been doing similar surveys since 2004, and Anderson said it was interesting to see how excitement over technology has become tempered over that time.

    She said in 2004, most experts talked about how technological advancement was going to be great.

    “We hear enthusiasm now, but also more about the negative, more so than ever before,” she said. “People are starting to realize that the power of communication can be used by anyone, good or bad.”

    On the hopeful side, the increasing reach of the Internet will enhance global connectivity, which could foster “more positive relationships among societies,” according to the report.

    The report also said the so-called Internet of Things, when all kinds of devices from coffee makers to toothbrushes will be connected to the web, big data and artificial intelligence “will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.”

    “Devices will more and more have their own patterns of communication, their own ‘social networks,’ which they use to share and aggregate information, and undertake automatic control and activation,” said David Clark, a senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in a statement.  “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. It will, to some extent, blend into the background of all we do.”

    Experts also see increased use of augmented reality and wearable devices which can monitor aspects of your daily life, giving a user feedback to improve, for example, personal health.

    Pew and Elon will soon be publishing another report on wearables.
    Lastly, and more of a mixed bag, the experts also saw the potential for more “Arab Spring” type uprisings, some peaceful and some not.

    On the negative side, the experts cautioned that the increasing divides between haves and have-nots that could result in violence.

    In 10 years, experts said the net will continue to be plagued by “abuses and abusers” involved in pornography, crime and bullying, but that these people will “evolve to scale,” with “new capacity to make life miserable for others.”

    The report also warned that Internet freedom could face threats from governments and corporations “as they invoke security and cultural norms.”

    “I hope there will be greater openness, more democratic participation, less centralized control, and greater freedom,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “But there is nothing predetermined about that outcome. Economic and political forces in the United States are pulling in the opposite direction. So, we are left with a central challenge: will the Internet of 2025 be—a network of freedom and opportunity or the infrastructure of social control?”

    Finally, the report said privacy will continue to erode and that it “will be something only the upscale will enjoy.”

    “Over the past decade, it’s the people who have power and control that can protect their privacy,” said Anderson. “The rich will be able to find ways to keep their data private.”

    Of course, predictions are fraught with perils, but Anderson researched thousands of predictions made in the 1990s, saying many of them were “incredibly prescient” and “right on the mark.”

    You May Like

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.