2,558 experts and technology builders were canvassed about where they think digital will be by the year 2025. Their collective thoughts were perhaps surprisingly coherent, and have been distilled down to this tantalising soundbite:
“the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ over the next decade–less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives, with many good and potentially bad results.”
These ‘good and potentially bad results’ comprise the 15 theses, which were sorted into eight ‘hopeful’ and six ‘concerned’ predictions, with one “neutral, sensible piece of advice that the choices that are made now will shape the future.”
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Without any further ado, here are the predictions as they appear in the Digital Life report:
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 intermediaries.
2) The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity that fosters
more planetary relationships and less ignorance.
3) The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.
4) Augmented reality and wearable devices 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 change and public uprisings like the Arab Spring will emerge.
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 nation-states to control.
7) The Internet will become ‘the Internets’ as access, systems, and principles are renegotiated.
8) An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities, with less money spent on real estate and teachers.
9) Dangerous divides between haves and have-nots may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence.
10) Abuses and abusers will ‘evolve and scale.’ Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have new capacity to make life miserable for others.
11) Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power — and at times succeed — as they invoke security and cultural norms.
12) People will continue — sometimes grudgingly — to make tradeoffs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upscale will enjoy.
13) Humans and their current organizations 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 the future.
Advice: Make good choices today
15) Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’