Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 27th 2014 Contents BG24 COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MARCH 2014 • WEEK FOUR
To mark the 25th anniversary
of the creation of the World
Wide Web, a new report can-
vassing the views of more than
2,000 experts, outlines how
digital technology will evolve
over the next decade.
The Pew Research Centre report, part of a
series titled, Digital Life in 2025, compiles
imaginings by 2,558 experts who were asked
an open-ended question about how technology
will impact life by the year 2025. The respon-
dents weighed in on the future of such con-
cerns as privacy, cybersecurity, the "Internet
of things," and net neutrality.
The study found that many experts agreed
on the general outlines of the technological
change that lies ahead, which is expected to
create "a global, immersive, invisible, ambient
networked computing environment," by 2025.
Internet will become 'like electricity'
The biggest prediction from the responses
is that a decade from now the Internet will
be as ubiquitous as electricity---we won't even
notice it's there---"augmented reality" and
sharing information through wearable devices
will become the norm.
Fortunately, most experts surveyed believe
the result of this connectivity will be positive.
The experts pointed to a number of promising
trends, like "intelligent analytical mapping of
the physical and social realms," that would
make information, education and entertain-
ment much more widely available.
But they also argued that the Internet would
continue to disrupt traditional business models,
and will make it more difficult for the world
to ignore massive disparities and social prob-
Of course, not all the predictions about
what our connected world will bring are rosy.
The experts warn that "abuses and abusers"
will have an even larger playground. Some
experts expressed concern about how expand-
ing connectivity might foster increased sur-
veillance, terror, inequality, crime, and other
violations of personal and interpersonal ethics.
Representative of this alarm is John Markoff,
a senior writer for the Science section of the
New York Times, who warns of the "potential
of a very dystopian world that is also pro-
However, most respondents agreed on the
general trajectory. In their eyes, humanity is
A global, immersive, invisible, ambient net-
worked computing environment built through
the continued proliferation of smart sensors,
cameras, software, databases, and massive
data centers in a world-spanning information
fabric known as the Internet of Things.
"Augmented reality" enhancements to the
real-world input that people perceive through
the use of portable/wearable/implantable tech-
Disruption of business models established
in the 20th century (most notably impacting
finance, entertainment, publishers of all sorts,
Tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical
mapping of the physical and social realms.
Inventing the future today
"All seven-plus billion humans on this planet
will sooner or later be 'connected' to each
other and fixed destinations, via the Uber-
(not Inter-) net. That can lead to the diminished
power over people's lives within nation-states,"
Internet pioneer David Hughes 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 dimin-
Of course, as computer scientist Alan Kay
once declared: "The best way to predict the
future is to invent it." Robert Cannon, an
Internet law and policy expert, told Pew, "It
is a very good time to start inventing the
For emerging markets like those in the
Caribbean, Latin American and Africa, the
imperative is to play an active, not passive,
role in shaping this digital future.
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge
officer of Congress WBN (www.congress-
wbn.org), a values-based, international charity
and the executive director of BrightPath
Foundation, a technology education non-
profit organization. Reach him on Twitter
@bevilwooding or on facebook.com/bevil-
wooding or contact via email at technol-
A view of our
Pew reported these 15 theses about the
digital future in 2025:
1. Information sharing over the Internet
will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily
life that it will become invisible, flowing like
electricity, often through machine interme-
2. The spread of the Internet will enhance
global connectivity that fosters more plane-
tary relationships and less ignorance.
3. The Internet of Things, artificial intelli-
gence, and big data will make people more
aware of their world and their own behav-
4. Augmented reality and wearable de-
vices will be implemented to monitor and
give quick feedback on daily life, especially
tied to personal health.
5. Political awareness and action will be
facilitated and more peaceful changeand
public uprisings, like the Arab Spring, will
6. The spread of the Ubernet will diminish
the meaning of borders, and new nations of
those with shared interests may emerge
and exist beyond the capacity of current na-
tion-states to control.
7. The Internet will become the Internets
as access, systems, and principles are rene-
8. An Internet-enabled revolution in edu-
cation will spread more opportunities, with
less money spent on real estate and teach-
ers.9. Dangerous divides between haves and
have-nots may expand, resulting in resent-
ment and possible violence.
10. Abuses and abusers will evolve and
scale. Human nature isn't changing; there's
laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornog-
raphy, dirty tricks, crime, and those who
practice them have new capacity to make
life miserable for others.
11. Pressured by these changes, govern-
ments and corporations will try to assert
power---and at times succeed---as they in-
voke security and cultural norms.
12. People will continue---sometimes
grudgingly---to make trade-offs favouring
convenience and perceived immediate
gains over privacy; and privacy will be
something only the upscale will enjoy.
13. Humans and their current organisa-
tions may not respond quickly enough to
challenges presented by complex networks.
14. Most people are not yet noticing the
profound changes today's communications
networks are already bringing about; these
networks will be even more disruptive in
15. Foresight and accurate predictions can
make a difference; the best way to predict
the future is to invent it.
Source: Pew Internet:
The Pew study (available at:
http://bit.ly/1nEvSoK) breaks down
each of its 15 theses in detail and in-
cludes a summary roundup of
thoughts and forecasts that don't slot
as neatly into the theses.
Experts predict the Internet will become 'like electricity' --- less
visible, yet more deeply embedded in people's lives for good and ill
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