The Future of the Internet, 2013 Update


The internet continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Over the past three years we have seen its continued proliferation across the globe and increasing use of social media. This post updates the initial post in this blog on the future.

Security continues to be a significant internet issue and has been discussed previously in the blog. Internet freedom continues also to be an issue with governments having attempted over the last couple of years to curtail it and, in many developed countries, legislation intended to reduce internet freedoms has failed to gain the support of lawmakers. It is unlcear whether attempts to introduce these will reappear but, for now, internet freedoms remain.

However, attempts from Internet Service Providers and others to charge for premium access to content and users continue. The highest profile attempt is from Verizon and Google and this looks set to reappear in the summer of 2013 when a decision is due on a lawsuit that they are pursuing against US federal regulators:

Al Gore shares the concerns expressed by many and argues that government action is needed to protect net neutrality:

Jonathan Zittrain’s efforts to crowdsource information on internet censorship continues with his initiative called Herdict. It is an interesting tool that helps create understanding of the extent of censorship:

The web continues to evolve towards Web 3.0 and the following video defines the three stages of internet development:

One of the features of Web 3.0 is said by many to be the “semantic web” – the development of web functionality that will enable better searching capability. There is increasing debate over whether this is likely to happen and, if it did, whether it would be of value. Jimmy Wales expresses his sceptical opinion:

The other main aspect of Web 3.0 is the “internet of things”. The following video from Europe describes how this will work:

Predictions of what the future will look like continue to appear. Three are of particular interest. First, Corning Glass have updated a video that they produced a few years ago to provide their vision of life in the near future:

Next, IBM illustrate their focus on Cognitive Computing and the impact that they think that will have:

Finally, Microsoft provide their vision of life in 2019:

Doomsters continue to see possible disaster looming with a possible catastrophic failure of the internet. Danny Hillis articulated this view in a recent TED Talk:

and Vint Cerf provided an alternative, more positive view:

This post has summarised updates on the future of the internet since the initial post on this topic was created in March 2011.

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