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15 predictions for the digital future

Posting in Technology
Twenty-five years ago it would have been impossible to imagine all the ways the Internet would change the world. We can only imagine how the digital age will evolve and transform in the next decade.  

But that's exactly what Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and Elon University have done. To mark the 25th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web, the team solicited predictions from hundreds of experts in the technology sector about what the digital world will look like in 2025.   

Pew then synthesized their responses into 15 common predictions -- both positive and negative -- about the state of the Internet in 2025. 

And while the experts disagree about the ramifications, Pew says:

They predict mobile, wearable, and embedded computing will be tied together in the Internet of Things, allowing people and their surroundings to tap into artificial intelligence-enhanced cloud-based information storage and sharing.

Here's their full list (in no specific order):

  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.
  15. Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’
As much as I enjoy these forward-looking lists, the challenge with any technology prediction is that we just can't envision the disruptive technology that will inevitably add-to or shake-up this list. Still, that doesn't mean we shouldn't look ahead. There is real value in identifying the challenges we face as technology evolves.

Anything you would add to the list? 


Photo: Flickr/zugaldia

— By on March 11, 2014, 1:12 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure