The World Wide Web (WWW) turned 25 on March 12th. With 87% of Americans using the Internet today, a large majority say it’s been a good thing both for them personally and for society. The next 25 years could go one of two ways for the Web: evolving into a better Internet or a worse Internet. We can help the Internet evolve for the better with a coordinated international effort of Internet governance. Unfortunately, every forecast about the future of the internet has, more or less, turned out either to be an outrageous underestimate or a hopeless overestimate. The internet “bubble” that burst in 2000 was concrete monetary proof of this, as was the rise of Google as a service that would empower everybody and imperil the world’s media industries.
It is at least possible to make educated guesses from the pathway of technological evolution and understanding the laws of nature along with globalization. Determining how the Internet will be governed in the future is likely to be the single most important issue in determining whether we receive the internet we hope for or an internet we fear.
To ensure that we get the kind of internet we want, we need to worry about two aspects of governance: technical and political. We are well on our way on the technical side, where the IETF (The Internet Engineering Task Force) functions as a remarkably open mechanism guiding the technical evolution of the Internet. The political side will surely be more difficult, but every Internet user should care about the governance of something so important and personal. There are several foreseeable issues here. For one, many people won’t want (and will be frightened by) anything that seems like a global government. But, ultimately, there has to be a global policy or doctrine since there’s only one Internet. All-in-all, we all need to start thinking about how to shape the next 25 years of the Web, especially when it comes to healthcare, surveillance and emerging technologies.
There are three broad technology trends playing out, each of which will shift the future of healthcare.
One is size. The sheer scale of digital technology is astonishing. In 2015 alone, the world will produce data equal to 120,000 times the total of all previously written words in history. This data will be generated by exponentially more powerful computing, and then stored in the cloud, to be accessible there from a growing range of devices. Europeans now have, on average, more than one cell phone per person. Locals in Dubai tote nearly two.
The second is a shift towards personalization. All consumer trends point towards greater customization for individual needs. Websites like Amazon track your shopping habits and recommend goods accordingly, while other online services only display content or updates relevant to your specific needs.
Third is that technology is more social than ever before. Networks such as Facebook, the most visited site in the US, have helped establish online communities of engaged users. Consumers increasingly create their own content and access what has been created by others. Social networks are not just a place to find friends. They are becoming platforms for content creation, idea sharing, and self-service. Some government agencies and technology companies have even deployed social software platforms for users to take over certain government functions and to provide each other first-level help desk functions. These networks, not only lower business costs, but also make users feel more engaged and in control, creating a feeling of ownership within the larger organization.
What can we expect to see in the future of surveillance?
In light of the NSA scandal and data privacy debates, surveillance technology regulations have become a hot topic. In the paranoid world of the spy/surveillance agencies, networks will become impossibly entangled – much more so than in the current geopolitical/security maze. If there are 4000 domestic agencies in the U.S. currently involved in covert surveillance, how many more are there internationally and how many will there be involved in the surveillance game when the cyber-espionage paranoia really explodes?
With microscopic technology, it’s more probable than possible that we’ll have cameras virtually everywhere in the world, even embedded in our clothing. Much of this will be at our request to augment our daily lives – as with Google Glass– or to improve our personal safety. As major advancements continue to escalate, perhaps we must consider or even insist on reciprocal transparency. So, for example, if the police can watch us, we should be able to watch them too. Our loss of privacy would be traded not just for a decrease in crime, but also in police brutality. But, how do we get to this hybrid state? This is a common question that only time can answer.
We see these ideas all over the news, social media, and movies. 3D-printers, self driving cars, mini hovercraft vehicles, implanted mind chips… the list goes on and on. I just saw on the news this morning a story about a new phone App that allows people to trade leftovers… yes, trading leftover food!!! Now that might be a little excessive but the internet is creating a platform that allows group collaboration, instant product to consumer introduction, and overnight sensations/failures. trends like Beanie Babies and Slap Bracelets lasted a decade where the Wii was taken over by PS3 and X-Box in a little over a year!!! The movement of fades are being replaced at crazy speeds. We can view this as a further shift from an economy based on physical objects to one based almost solely on digital ones
So, now that we having you thinking about what is next to come… Go out into the world and share your ideas for a better world. Remember, there is no such thing as a delete button anymore!!!
Thank you Forbes and Google for helping my research.
HTC Communications, llc