Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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Need to minimise downsides to web proliferation

Everyone knows that the internet has been a force of change in the 25 years that it has been around. An overwhelming majority are saying that it has been a good thing for society at large, going by the findings of Elon University and the Pew Research Centre.

While 76 per cent of respondents agreed it was good for society, 90 per cent said it impacted favourably on them as individuals. The exchange of information via the internet will be so integrated into daily life that by 2025 it will be invisible, flowing like electricity to serve as intermediaries, the report, titled ‘Digital Life in 2025’ states.

Web-enabled sensors will give us faster feedback, especially with regard to personal health, detect diseases or what we can do to avoid them.

Another trend that could emerge is of heightened political consciousness that would facilitate peaceful change.

Some of the other trends:

* The word “border” will lose meaning as new “nations” emerge online among people who share the same interests outside the control of states.

* The ‘Internet of Things’ will add mobile computing, dressing and devices embedded in appliances; artificial intelligence and analysis of large databases will make more people better aware of themselves.

Connectivity will increase and relationships will be established on a global scale. This phenomenon will improve education levels which would translate into a more aware population.

But there are potential risks too — “abuse and abusers will evolve and scale“, the research warns. “Human nature is not changing… There is laziness, harassment, stalking, stupidity, porn, dirty tricks, crime, and those who practice them have a new ability to make others’ lives miserable.”

Phenomena such as cyber terrorism and violation of user privacy reveal the fragility of the future of online navigation. Experts argue that privacy will be exclusive to an elite who can buy it.

To celebrate its 25th birthday, Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, called for a global online bill of rights to keep the internet free and open. In interview to The Guardian, he says he believes in an online ‘Magna Carta’ to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium.