The Future of the Internet

PI_2018.04.17_Future-of-Well-Being_quoteCards_Varian

The Internet has come a long way in what feels like a short time.

There isn’t much we can’t do online. Every day millions of people hop on the Internet to shop, bank, study, meet new people, catch up with old friends, complete work tasks, play games, and much, much more. What started as a communications tool for the military has become a tool many rely on for far more than electronic mail.

It’s hard to even think of how much more we could integrate the Internet into our daily lives. I recently watched episodes of Black Mirror and thought many of the stories about technology in the near-future seem outlandish at first. But…maybe they’re not. Social media that ranks everyone by a score that dictates where you can eat, shop, work, and live? Memory implants? A miniature, digital you managing everything in your house so that the real you doesn’t have to make so many decisions?

Ok, maybe not. But I think the functions of the Internet will continue to grow and improve. Some of the Internet’s challenges – i.e. privacy issues and technology replacing real life interactions with other humans – will possibly be addressed by more technology. I also think the Internet has more to offer the education and health spaces. Online learning and telehealth will continue to grow. Students and patients will have more access to people and services not available in their physical communities.

And as the Internet’s influence continues to grow, I think legislation controlling it isn’t far down the road.

It’s my hope that part of the future of the Internet includes access for everyone. And this should happen sooner rather than later. There’s no question that access to the Internet can help with school, business, and connecting with others personally. It’s a vital tool for success in the 21st Century.

According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, minorities, those who are low-income, and those living in rural areas often had less access to the Internet, including broadband access at home and smartphones.

If we’re not using the Internet and associated innovations to make life better for everyone, what are we doing?

Overall, I think the future of the Internet includes more access for everyone and more collaboration. We’ll rely on the Internet more to automate our lives even more than we do now. (Seriously, checkout the White Christmas episode of Black Mirror) And the gaps between our digital life and our real life will get smaller and smaller.

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