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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More