From the first message sent from a room at UCLA to a computer terminal at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park (California), in 1969, nearly 51 years have passed until today. The Synonym sent in that message was Login, but midway through the process the sending system broke down and the console only received the first two letters: Lo. It was the first step of the network that was the basis of the Internet: Arpanet . From then until now, the Internet has evolved a brilliant deal, transforming a large part of society, and even human existence itself.
Although the Internet has made fantastic strides, it still has a long way to go, and many wonder what the Internet will be like in a few decades . For example, in 50 years. Also how will the challenges that we now have at hand be solved: security, privacy, data protection, etc. How will they be solved? Will it be possible to solve these problems and others that will appear over time in a digital world that is constantly changing? The answer is not simple, although some experts are already trying to outline what the Internet will be like in 2070 and what solutions will be given to these problems and even some that have not even been considered yet.
A few months ago, in November of last year, the Pew Research Center published a study on what a group of experts thought digital life would be like in the future. Lee Rainie , Director of Internet and Technology Research at Pew , and one of the study’s authors, paper money that responses to questions asked of experts about how our digital presence would come to further define our existence in the future were very revealing.
Internet will be more integrated into our lives
Rainie points out that in their responses, the experts even spoke of ” the definition of a human being at any given time contemplating the technology available to our bodies and brains .” Also, remember that many of the experts you’ve talked to are convinced that today’s internet-enabled devices won’t exist, but will be preloaded into our consciousness .
This, according to these experts, will come sooner than later. In just the next 25 years, the systems we use today to search or use the Internet will be considered nothing short of antediluvian. So thinks Judith Donath , Researcher at the Berkman Klein Center at the University of Harvard . Donath points out that our digital presence will not be independent of the physical world either, but will be integrated into it. By then we will have forgotten about keyboards, mouse and screens.
According to Toby Negrin , CPO of the Wikimedia Foundation , the Network of the future can be compared to electricity, since it will become ” an omnipresent supply, something that we expect to be always available and around us, interrelated with our daily lives “.
The world that we will have around us in the future will be a mixture of “conventional” reality and virtual reality. Moreover, sometimes it will be impossible to differentiate which is which. As Mike Liebhold sees it, a Researcher at the Future Institute who was part of Apple’s Advanced Technology Lab in the 1980s, he says that in the very near future, everyone will wear augmented reality glasses and use them to interact with their surroundings. For him, the information will be displayed anywhere, it will even float on the water. The web will appear in the real world, not just on screens.
Donath also joins this opinion, and stresses that the information will be present in everything , and in everyone, with whom we come across. Thus, for example, strangers can be identified and information about them obtained. Moreover, in the same way that nowadays we subscribe to magazines, in the future it will be possible to subscribe to different augmented realities.
New forms of communication
The very idea of a brain interface , very popular among experts, suggests that, whether it happens, all you have to do is think and then the interface will take care of the task automatically , which will probably make communication much easier. The experts who participated in the Pew Center study agree that we are still evolving in terms of forms of communication. In the short term, written messages will disappear in favor, among others, of verbal communications and those established with assistants, such as Siri or Alexa . This will lead to not being searched, but asking attendees and devices questions and the process will be more similar to that followed in a conversation.
For Donath, technological advances will accommodate this new era of voice communications. Thus, ” the headphones will be replaced by invisible implants that will be in charge of modulating everything that is heard, and that will sometimes close the real ambient sound in favor of the virtual one, and others will serve to amplify a nearby voice “.
Both she and Jones have pointed out that predictive technologies, such as the ubiquitous autocorrect, will be more accurate, making communications faster and requiring less time to think. In addition, due to our ability to mix speech with augmented reality, doors will open that will allow us to understand everyone and communicate with them. For Jillian York , Director of international freedom of expression at the EFF , ” instead of learning new languages, we will install a translation app that will allow us to translate what we say in real time “.
Except this, according to Donath, both the small gestures and the gaze will provide us with ways to convey and interact with our environment in a more dynamic way. This will also be the beginning of what is known as ‘neurointeraction’, described as technology first developed for those who cannot communicate verbally and eventually adopted by all. In his opinion it will be a mesh of connectivity between devices and human communication in which matters will happen through sight and thoughts.
The end of privacy on the Internet
Every time you are asking a virtual assistant for something, you are giving more information about yourself to the company bum said assistant. Everyone who does sacrifices some of their privacy for more convenience. This, far from being reduced, is going to increase, and the technologies used for this will be more and more capable of knowing what we want. They will learn from our habits and even anticipate our wishes. This is how companies will earn more and more money: with our data about our person, habits and needs.
This will lead to a change in the advertising and marketing of products and services. Ads will be much more personalized and detailed. Of course, this will have a price, and experts believe that we will sacrifice our autonomy increasingly. All in favor of having more amenities.
Advances in health data
The beginning of the organic data revolution has already begun with wearables and connected devices that collect information about our health. Many believe that this is to the benefit of society, as having huge amounts of health data can lead to the ability to generate better health practices. The ability that doctors will have to know what we eat, the exercise we do and what we do in our daily lives will allow them to implement more and more personalized programs to meet our health needs.
But as it happens in other fields, the most important thing in this field will be who has the data and how they use it. In general, the experts who have answered the questions posed for the preparation of the study are optimistic in this regard, but they also warn that there is a feeling that this can be harmful at an individual level. There are increasing predictions that information about our health and genetics could be used to divide us as a species.
Increasingly pessimistic about the future of the Internet
Numerous force themselves to be optimistic about the future of the web. Everyone wants to believe that in the future the Internet will bring concord, better communication, a free flow of information and a healthier world. But all this is accompanied by many doubts and warnings. And with the fact that first we have to solve problems that we already have today so that they are not bigger in the future.
To accomplish this, among other things, you have to take the time to understand the implications of each new technology and how to deal with it in the best possible way. And since, according to Negrin, “ we are still at least in the adolescence of the Internet ”, there is still much to know and understand all that it implies. For many it may still be a decade or more before we have a total picture of all its complexities, both positive and negative.
There are also concerns about the ability of governments to manage what comes next in relation to the Internet. Fairly a few raise issues that governments lack the technical sophistication to regulate, compensate, or find appropriate solutions to emerging problems. The answers to the questions and problems that occur, in addition, must be global in many cases, and unified answers must be given. Local responses will not work, but international agreements and global treaties will have to be put in place.
On the other hand, it is widely feared that governments , particularly the most authoritarian ones, will use new technologies for their own benefit . Furthermore, there is less and less hope that information can remain free. Notwithstanding, in the end, how we relate to new technologies and what the future holds in the new digital age can affect how we behave as humans.
Thus, technology, and thus the Internet, can be used to improve the human condition, but Rainie stresses that ” there is evidence that numerous will want to use this and other tools to do what humans have always done to those they don’t like. ” . Therefore, there is much to be done to ensure that the Internet is used for good and not just for the benefit of a few.