» The future of the Internet

The future of the Internet

Excellent survey of internet leaders by Pew, with the folloging predictions:

# A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new opportunities in a “flattening” world.

# Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more activity is automated and “smart agents” proliferate. However, a significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans’ ability to control the technology in the future. This significant majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major surprises in the survey.

# Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker productivity and also spawn new addiction problems.

# Tech “refuseniks” will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of violence and terror against technology-inspired change.

# People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy.

# English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence.

At the same time, there was strong dispute about those futuristic scenarios among notable numbers of 742 respondents to survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University. Those who raised challenges believe that governments and corporations will not necessarily embrace policies that will allow the network to spread to under-served populations; that serious social inequalities will persist; and that “addiction” is an inappropriate notion to attach to people’s interest in virtual environments.



  • Alicia

    Seems to me more or less like a reasonable prediction. I’m not sure how severe “addictions” will come, it seems to me like they would already have developed today. Although, did you know they have specific hospitals set up in Asia to treat addictions to video games? One guy already died from sitting in front of his TV, gaming, for hours on end, with no break…. scary!
    As much as we talk about the world becoming more and more virtual and all its negative effects, a large part of me is inclined to believe that things won’t change so much. I do believe that English will continue to spread, but so will other languages, as they gain more and more space on the internet and serve as accessible resources to those wishing to learn them.
    I recently started studying Turkish, and now I have access to Turkish newspapers, videos, songs, culture, online.
    I’ve been able to maintain my French thanks to sites like yours and other blogs/podcasts, 10 years ago that wasn’t much of an option!
    Languages will continue to grow, spread, thrive.
    There probably will remain the north/south division when it comes to technology. Developing countries often need to be concerned with more immediate needs before they turn to the internet.
    Nevertheless, interesting and pretty accurate predictions! I would be curious to see if separatist groups emerge… kind of like the Amish here in the states! They remind you of what life was like when we weren’t so addicted to virtual worlds.
    All in all, though, I think the internet is a positive thing.
    I read an article in my French Business class last year, though, that warned of the dangers of rapid globalization. I believe it was a French man who argued that although the world is becoming smaller and smaller, we may run into even more culture clashes if we don’t develop the necessary tools of human communication to deal with it. For example, I may be able to access Turkish news, but my cultural bias and miseducation will lead more to culture clash than it will to understanding.
    I disagree for the most part. I think the internet will serve to help cultures grow, rather than extinguish them.
    Any thoughts?
    I’m rambling now, it’s late… homework to do….!
    Goodnight for now

  • http://thedigitalsanctuary.textdriven.com/ Cynthia Ware

    As an avid Pew reader, I loved this wrap up. But as a blogger, I think “addiction” is an appropriate notion to attach to people’s interest in virtual environments.
    At least that’s what I’ve found.

  • http://www.experientia.com/blog/internets-future-in-2020-debated/ Putting people first

    Internets future in 2020 debated [BBC]

    The internet will be a thriving, low-cost network of billions of devices by 2020, says a major survey of leading technology thinkers.
    The Pew report on the future internet surveyed 742 experts in the fields of computing, politics and business.
    More …

  • http://www.loiclemeur.com/france Loic

    Cynthia, absolutely, addiction is clearly a danger. I changed broadband Internet supplier last week and was offline home the entire week, I was very nervous like if something key was missing, really.

  • http://www.audioster.com michel

    English will surely become the global language of this new flat world. This is not the american english or the british english but a new english language re created every day by more than 1 billion people who need one single and simple language to communicate. This is the new language every one needs to master to play globally. Please stop teaching/learning american or british english from now!

  • http://www.morteza.ir morteza

    nice blog