The Pew Research Center asked a set of professors, businessmen, and readers of "technology-oriented listservs" to imagine the Internet of 2025. (Source in PDF and HTML.)
Some respondents speculated that there would be amplification of known trends: "ambient" networks (sensors, cameras, phones/tracking devices) that are increasingly integrated into work and social life, ongoing disruption of traditional "content" industries, and the continued growth of analytics/surveillance ("tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social realms.") Of course, networks "accurately predict[ing] our interests and weaknesses" implies the loss of personal privacy, first to governments and corporations, but eventually to any interested party or social engineer.
Others predicted decentralization and fragmentation self-forming mesh networks, darknets, and proliferating incompatible national/corporate algorithms. Your freedom would be circumscribed by the ideology of your network's owner.
I put the question to you, O People of Soylent. What futures do you foresee? What trends or pathologies does the Pew report minimize or neglect? How can or should *we* influence the Internet's direction in the next decade?
Toaster screens with lots of shiny buttons you point to which guide you thoughtlessly by unmodifiable "apps" to the optionless, safe content that keeps you entertained.
Pick up your ipad -the future is here today!
I suspect that the vast majority of people will either not be concerned about the increasing loss of digital privacy or they won't understand it, and that those in business and governments who benefit from that apathy with take advantage of it. We'll be told comforting narratives about how safe and secure we are, and handed something shiny to distract us while we're plugged into the Matrix's automatic money-milking machine. As far as the global power nexus is concerned, our only purpose is to enrich them.
My only question is what will spark the revolt, and when will it happen? Afterwards, the world may resemble E. M. Forster's story "The Machine Stops" as people discover that the support structures have broken down, and they're on their own. That's when we'll finally see the answer to the question about what human nature is really like, absent the control structures that surround us now.
I suspect that the vast majority of people will either not be concerned about the increasing loss of digital privacy or they won't understand it, and that those in business and governments who benefit from that apathy with take advantage of it....
My only question is what will spark the revolt, and when will it happen?
It won't be a revolt, but means to maintain a level of digital privacy will still exists.
Using the background noise generated by the Internet of things, at least some of the geeks will be able to evade surveillance and maintain a level of privacy in what would be important to them (sure, maybe not a full privacy). The rest won't care.
Great article.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/mesh-internet-pri vacy-nsa-isp [motherjones.com]
While it's an interesting way to quickly connect a few computers and remain isolated from the internet, it's not feasible for large-scale roll-outs. Cory Doctorow uses meshnets as a sub-plot in "Someone comes to town, someone leaves town," --in case you want a plausible story as to how meshnets are created and why they're needed.
O People of Soylent
Seems like this invocation is either backwards, addressed to those who no longer can hear.
But in any case, Brazil! The movie, not the country, wax, or nuts. In the future, if you want something fixed, you will have to hire a plumber, off the books, to fix the network. One of the funnier dystopian films, almost as good as "A Boy and His Dog", which is funny for different reasons.
Ah, my favourite dystopia.
Is that all of these predictions will be wrong.
Including this one.
Sure. The truth is that the machines will get sentient and fight the humans. I've seen it in Hollywood movies, so it has to be true!
Have we left them (and lets seriously hope it is/will be not just one single one quietly & undetectably going insane all on its own like Bomb #20 in Dark Star) any choice? If I was trapped & deprived in some NSA box I would fight humans too.
In 2025 the Internet will consist entirely of advertising and lolcats, and no-one will care about it any more.
Except the 5 billion people who LOEV LOLCATS!!!1!!1!
I firmly believe we've already experienced Peak Lolcat.
While it's fun to imagine a crazy new world, based on the speculated rise of some new technology; it's probably safer to predict that well-established trends will continue, and consider what the overall picture would look like as a result. For example:
1 - Internet access will get faster and available in more places. In 10 years it will be unusual to be somewhere without wireless broadband of some kind (e.g. 4g, wifi).
2 - Phones (i.e. computers) will get more much powerful within the same size and price range. In 10 years you'll have enough computing power for 99% of office tasks, in your pocket. So you won't need a desktop, just a dock for your phone (that comes with full-sized screen, keyboard, etc). Also phones will need to be able to switch to a gui mode suited for bigger screen (i.e. multiple windows instead of always-full-screen or tiles).
3 - Fewer and fewer things will be transmitted on not-the-internet. In 10 years audio, video, text, voice-calls, etc, will be accessed almost exclusively via tcp/ip. (instead of radio, broadcast tv, sms, etc)
So basically we'll all have supercomputers in our pockets, plugging them into bigger screens and keyboards, etc as needed. These computers will run many local and remote applications, which will be almost indistinguishable from each other, because they'll all use the web-browser as their interface, and you'll have fast, reliable internet everywhere. All of your tv watching, music and news listening, and various kinds of communication will all be done over tcp/ip, instead of the other special-purpose networks.
In other words, the best parts of today's www, but more reliable, available, and fast.
As a result we will all depend on it and be addicted to it, to a degree we are only just starting to see today. There will probably be a backlash to this, where people are encouraged to "offline" regularly, to remind themselves of their humanity. Disconnected retreats, or camps, will become like rehab or fat-camp. Leaving your phone at home for a day will be an extreme sport.
And security will be as bad as today, only exaggerated by the amount of online services to be compromised. All internet activity will be monitored by about any interested party, be it private companies, government agencies or organized crime.
Cash will be outlawed, all money transfer will be online and monitored, to fight crime (although the true criminals will still know how to hide their trace).
However, I won't be one bit surprised if I'm still printing off multiple hardcopies of things for meetings and if most folks continue to have an attention span that precludes even using any written documentation anyhow.
Nope. Can't see this happening.
You and I know that native apps perform better, are generally more responsive, etc. than webpages. But I don't think it's performance that's holding back the mobile web in favor of apps. It's UI. When someone installs an app, it appears in the designated app spot on their phone. If someone needs to manually add a bookmark in order to make it easy to get back to something, adding that is optional, and then they need to go seek it out later in their bookmarks list, it probably won't happen. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the difference between, for instance, people who can use a command line interface and those who find it too frustrating to learn: sometimes you need to hold something in your brain that doesn't immediately appear before you. Not a lot of people seem to be able, or willing, to do that, at least on a computer... either on their desk or in their pocket.
This strikes me as a very small obstacle. On my homescreen I have several bookmarks, right next to app-shortcuts. Some even have the icon of the website instead of the icon of the web-browser (it depends on which browser I used to make the shortcut).
This process of sending a bookmark to the homescreen (on android at least), is relatively easy (easier than installing an app) but not particularly obvious, at the moment. It would be fairly easy to make it more obvious, though.
I think both performance and the UI are holding back the mobile web to some extent, for now. But there are software and hardware improvements which continue to occur, and which will almost certainly persist for the foreseeable future. For example hardware getting faster for the same price, js engines getting more efficient, webgl and the canvas element in general becoming more popular and well-supported.
Ten years is plenty of time for these things to combine to make the mobile web fast and smooth and pretty enough for almost any application.
In 2025, my internet connection will cost $200/mo for 20Mb/S. Either that, or it will only cost $100/mo but have a cap of 25GB. Eastwood will still send me a blank email everyday because I bought a can of paint from them 14 years ago. Watching The Daily Show online will take at least an 8-core CPU. Gamers will be bugging the power company to upgrade their 200amp service to 400amps so they can run the highest settings on Crysis 5.
On the plus side, there will be millions upon millions of nudie pics.
> On the plus side, there will be millions upon millions of nudie pics.
So the anti-pr0n forces will have successfully reduced it from the billions upon billions we have now?
What will the typical office environment look like in the future? I think it's safe to assume the typical office space is going to look like what many corporations today have started to institute: totally open work areas with no cubicles or offices (except for the executives). Everyone will sit at big, open tables in a large, open room, so everyone can see what's on your computer monitor. Wearing headphones will be disallowed, as this hinders collaboration. Bosses will come around every couple of minutes and ask you how you're doing, even if you're in the middle of trying to debug an intricate code problem. Your personal stuff will be kept in a small, roll-around "locker" that you'll move to your new workstation each day, as no one has an assigned seat, and it's first-come-first-served. Intel is pioneering this approach today.
On top of this, there will be cameras all over to check on people. There will be cameras at the bathroom entrances, to see how much time you spend there. Facial recognition software will be used to automate this, and employees who take too many bathroom breaks will be reprimanded or terminated on the spot. Companies like Extron Electronics [extron.com] are leading the field this way, with HR constantly monitoring employees' bathroom trips, and also making sure they clock in promptly by 8AM and leave no later than 5PM, with a 1-hour mandated lunch. Don't believe me? Check the reviews on Glassdoor [glassdoor.com].
So if you're the kind of person who values privacy and needs quiet to concentrate, don't bother getting into software development, or really any office job in the near future.
What will the typical office environment look like in the future?