What will the internet be like in 2025? This was the question asked by the Pew Research Center in a survey in recognition of the internet turning 2025.
Here we share the answers of ten of the industry’s leading experts, including researchers, academics and programmers.
President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center
I hope there will be greater openness, more democratic participation, less centralized control, and greater freedom. But there is nothing predetermined about that outcome. Economic and political forces in the United States are pulling in the opposite direction.
So, we are left with a central challenge: will the Internet of 2025 be a network of freedom and opportunity or the infrastructure of social control? In the words of Thomas Edison, “What man creates with his hand, he should control with his head.”
Lead researcher for GigaOM Research
The web will be the single most foundational aspect of people’s lives in 2025. People’s companion devices — the 2025 equivalent of today’s phones and tablets — will be the first thing they touch in the morning and the last thing they put down to sleep. In fact, some people will go so far as to have elements of their devices embedded. The AI-mediated, goggle-channeled social interactions of the near future will be as unlike what we are doing today, as today’s social web is to what came before.
Senior writer for the New York Times Science section
What happens the first time you answer the phone and hear from your mother or a close friend, but it’s actually not, and instead, it’s a piece of malware that is designed to social engineer you. What kind of a world will we have crossed over into? I basically began as an Internet utopian… but I have since realized that the technical and social forces that have been unleashed by the microprocessor hold out the potential of a very dystopian world that is also profoundly inegalitarian.
Principal researcher for Microsoft Research
The most significant impact of the Internet is that, by making so much activity visible, it exposes the gap between the way we think people behave, the way we think they ought to behave, the laws and regulations and policies and processes and conventions we have developed to guide behavior — and the way they really behave… Adjusting to this will be an unending, difficult task.
Google vice president and chief Internet evangelist
We may finally get to Internet voting, but only if we have really strong authentication methods available. Privacy must be improved but transparency about what information is retained about users also has to increase. More business will be born online with a global market from the beginning. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) will become important revenue streams.
Senior researcher and distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future
The Internet is morphing from the global library into the global supercomputer. By 2025, almost every application or service we can imagine will be enhanced by the application of enormous computation enabling widespread applications of capabilities like mining, inference, recognition, sense-making, rendering modeling as well as proactive contextual computing.
Creator of the AOL series The Future Starts Here and founder of The Webby Awards
Access to the Internet will be a international human right. The diversity of perspectives from all different parts of the globe tackling some of our biggest problems will lead to breakthroughs we can’t imagine on issues such as poverty, inequality, and the environment.
Internet pioneer and Cisco Systems Fellow
The issues in security and privacy will have been improved in important ways, but will remain threats, primarily because human nature will not have changed, and there is always a percentage of people who seek to harm others.
Managing director of Discern Analytics and consulting associate professor at Stanford
The pressures to balkanize the global Internet will continue and create new uncertainties. Governments will become more skilled at blocking access to unwelcome sites.
Prominent longtime programmer and consultant
When one combines Free Trade ideology with the ease of information flow, the entities which deal in data and content and associated items are going to need to have a set of agreements that work for the breadth of the Internet (assuming the world doesn’t fragment into isolated areas, which seems very unlikely in the modern economy).