Where Are We Going?

I like smart people and I really like when smart people get together and have a think about things which interest me.

Internet!

(Photo credit: LarsZi)

That happened recently as the folks at the Pew Research Center, and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center set up an online survey to look at the future of the Internet, the Web, and other digital activities. This is the first of eight reports based on a canvassing of hundreds of experts about the future of such things as privacy, cybersecurity, the “Internet of things,” and net neutrality. In this case they asked experts to make their own predictions about the state of digital life by the year 2025.  It’s an interesting document, an overview of which you can read here and which is available in its entirety at this link.

This is a summary of what they found:

To a notable extent, the experts agree on the technology change that lies ahead, even as they disagree about its ramifications. Most believe there will be:

  • A global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked 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 technologies.
  • Disruption of business models established in the 20th century (most notably impacting  finance, entertainment, publishers of all sorts, and education).
  • Tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social realms.

As one expert summed it up rather elegantly, information sharing over the Internet will be so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.  But is that a good thing?

I consider myself pretty “wired.”  To the extent I’m not using a technology or am blocking data access, it’s by choice.  I’m not entirely comfortable with the value proposition – my data/personal information/behavioral habits in exchange for whatever it is you’re selling.  Of course I know that proposition is just an extension of the media value proposition – my attention in exchange for entertainment.  But if you’ve read anything about the data collection business (never mind what governments are doing!) you know that there is way too much room for abuse and error, both of which will have a negative impact that negates any value received in my mind.

I recognize I might be of a generation that doesn’t “get it.”  Or maybe we do, since “1984″ was required reading long before the year 1984.  While one of the slogans of the Party is “Ignorance Is Strength” I don’t believe that for a second.  It’s all a matter of what knowledge – data – is owned by whom.  And that, dear readers, is something to ponder.  Will you?

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Filed under Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

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