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

    Wife of IS Leader Charged in Death of US Hostage

    Suspect allegedly admitted to being responsible for American aid worker Kayla Mueller, who officials say was sexually abused and ‘owned’ by one IS member

    Year of the Monkey Could Prove Economic Balancing Act for China

    China is up against a tricky situation on the financial front, facing the need to fight capital flight while also stopping a further slide of foreign currency reserves

    Runners Attempt 26-mile South Pole Marathon in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    How alluring is running 26.2 miles at 10,000 feet when it’s minus 31 Celsius out?

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    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 '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 New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    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 Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    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 Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    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.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.