The scale of the Internet and its affect on our daily lives has grown exponentially over the last decade. In just 10 years, the Internet brought the music industry to its knees and revitalized the film industry with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. We were given smartphones which went from novelty to daily necessity in half a decade. Leaps and bounds is an understatement. Pew Research published a survey where they asked experts to weigh in on the future of the Internet just 10 years into the future. Here’s what they had to say:
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The Internet will be invisible
Not invisible, as in unseen, but rather so seamlessly connected with our daily lives that we will stop thinking of it as an entity unto itself. Sort of like how we just expect the lights to turn on when we flip the switch, with hardly any consideration to the electrical processes at work within the walls. Our jobs, homes, cars and stores will all be online all the time. Joe Touch, director at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, predicted, “The Internet will shift from the place we find cat videos to a background capability that will be a seamless part of how we live our everyday lives. We won’t think about ‘going online’ or ‘looking on the Internet’ for something — we’ll just be online, and just look.”
The Internet will reduce our ignorance
There are already more careers that work remotely than ever before. As the Internet continues to spread around the world, new types of friendships, relationships, rivalries, collaborations and industries will spawn. As the interconnected nature of the Internet invariably brings information along with it, people will have easier access to the truth, and may have less misconceptions or miseducation.
The Internet will make us better people
Humans will always be humans. There will likely always be bullying, discrimination, hatred and all the ugly things we are capable of as a species. The free flow of information, feedback and interaction will make us increasingly more aware of the consequences of our behavior, and will in turn, encourage good behavior while discouraging negative behavior.
The Internet will be fashionable
Wearable technology is already on the rise. With tech like Google Glass and Apple’s rumored iWatch, they may start to see widespread use as early as next year. Wearable tech may prove invaluable at keeping us healthy, organized, up-to-date and plugged in like never before. If they rise of the smartphone is any indication, in 10 years we may not remember life without wearables. Daren C. Brabham, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, University of Southern California, said, “We will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers. This will change a lot of social practices, such as dating, job interviewing and professional networking, and gaming, as well as policing and espionage.”
The Internet will birth nations
The idea of a “virtual state” may become a real political reality in the near future. As people are able to connect in larger numbers than any other time in history, they may merge together and separate themselves from their individual governments. The powers that be may be incapable of doing anything about it. David Hughes, an Internet pioneer, said “When every person on this planet can reach, and communicate two-way, with every other person on this planet, the power of nation-states to control every human inside its geographic boundaries may start to diminish.”
The Internet will eliminate privacy
Social media has caused a number of people to voluntarily surrender their privacy for the sake of perceived fame, popularity or perhaps just the lack of a therapist. As convenience and other immediate benefits continue to crop up, people will continue to hand over the privacy in return. The ease with which an interested user can determine many personal details about a given individual, just by the information they post about themselves publicly, is unmatched. Such trends ought only be expected to continue at least as quickly as the technology allows them to do so.
While many of these predictions stem from the observable modern day trends, they are nonetheless trends over long periods of time with fairly predictable arcs. It stands to reason, then, that barring some large, unforeseen event things will continue on their current trajectory, enhanced and evolved by the technologies on which they reside.