6 predictions for the Internet in 2025

Staff Reports
6 predictions for the Internet in 2025
If you can, think back to the year 1990. You had a television, a radio, a microwave and an automatic coffee maker. You paid your bills by check. You had never heard the term snail mail -- and you were hip.

     Fast forward to the present. You sit before your computer paying bills with a single keystroke. You download books on an e-reader and get hour-by-hour weather predictions and instant news.  Your coffee maker can produce hazelnut decaf for you and French vanilla for your significant other.  You can't remember the last time you sent snail mail -- you communicate via Skype, text and email. Even your 90-year-old grandmother is on Facebook.
     So think about it. Where will you be in 2025?
     A Pew Research Center report released March 11 asked this very question as part of efforts to mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. (See the complete Pew report, Digital Life in 2025, here.) Pew asked experts to make predictions about the future. For better or for worse, here are six:

  1. Information sharing will be “effortlessly interwoven into daily life.” 
    David Clark, senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, told Pew, “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.”

   2.  Learn to love Google's glasses.  You’re going to see more of them.

    “Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially tied to personal health,” the report predicts.

   3.  Call it the “Ubernet.”

    The rising use of the Internet “will diminish the meaning of borders,” according to the report, “and new 'nations' of those with shared interests may emerge and exist beyond the capacity of current nation-states to control.”

   4.  Governments and corporations will try to “assert power – and at times succeed – as they invoke security and cultural norms,” the report predicts.

     Paul Babbitt, an associate professor at Southern Arkansas University, told Pew, “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 freewheeling aspect common to many Internet sites for more structured and regulated environments."

   5.  As technology evolves, criminals will evolve with it.

     As put by the center, “Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others.”

   6.  We’re slow on the digital uptake. We don’t know it yet, but the changes will be more disruptive to every aspect of life.

    There will be continued impact on everything from the way we negotiate work and family to geopolitics. A librarian questioned by Pew shared a quote from Albert Einstein: "It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity."   

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