Visions of the Internet in 2035

Asked to ‘imagine a better world online’, experts hope for a ubiquitous – even immersive – digital environment that promotes fact-based knowledge, better defends the rights of individuals, amplifies diverse voices, and provides tools for technology breakthroughs and collaborations to to solve the problems. the wicked problems of the world

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This is the second of two reports coming out of the 13th.Future of the Internetrecruiting Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imaging the Internet Center together to gather expert opinion on key digital issues. In this report, the questions focused on the prospects for improvements in the tone and activities of the digital public sphere by 2035. This is a non-scientific recruitment based on a non-random sample; this wide range of opinions about where current trends may lead in the next decade only represents the views of those who responded to the questions.

Pew Research Center and Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center built a database of experts to recruit from a wide variety of fields, inviting professionals and policy makers from government agencies, nonprofits and foundations, technology companies and think tanks, as well as interested academics and technology innovators. The predictions reported here came in response to a series of questions in an online recruiting conducted between June 29 and August 2, 2021. A total of 434 technology innovators and developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists responded to the question addressed in this report. More about the methodology underlying this recruitment and the participants can be found in the section entitled “About this expert recruitment

This report is the second of two analyzes of the insights of hundreds of technology experts who responded in the summer of 2021 to an inventory of their predictions about the evolution of online public spaces and their role in democracy in the coming years. In response to the primary research question, many said they expect these forums will be significantly improved by 2035 as reformers, major tech companies, governments and activists tackle the problems caused by misinformation, disinformation and toxic discourse. At the same time, they expressed continued concern about the destructive forces in culture and technology that could continue to plague online life and disrupt beneficial change for years to come.

In that study, Pew Research Center and Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University posed a follow-up question inviting these experts to share their vision of what a better digital world could look like in 2035. This report covers dozens of those answers. Many envisioned a much more welcoming online environment that facilitates socially enriching relationships; the flourishing of knowledge-creating communities; growth of truth-seeking group discussions; and new kinds of interactions enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). At best, they envision technology-enabled collaborations — sometimes global in scope — that can address the world’s most pressing questions.

A total of 434 technology innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists gave candid answers to this question:

We invite you to imagine a better world online: what is an example of an aspect of digital life that you think could be different in 2035 than it is today? We invite you to create a vignette of something you would like to see take place in a “new and improved” digital realm in 2035. Your example could relate to politics or social activities or jobs or physical and mental health or community life or education. Feel free to think extensively – and specifically.

The main themes raised by these experts in their written responses are shown in the following table.

This is a non-scientific recruitment, based on a non-random sample. The results only represent the opinions of the individuals who responded to the questions and cannot be projected onto another population.

It is important to note that even those who have outlined the desired way could evolve by 2035, often recognize that bad actors and bad systems can thwart changes in online life. Indeed, when answering other questions in recruiting, they described ways in which: businesses, governments and the public can disrupt positive change in digital spaces. It’s also worth noting that responses were collected in mid-summer 2021. People’s reactions came in the cultural context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemicand in a time of rising concerns about climate changeracial justice and social inequality were particularly prominent — and half a year after the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in the wake of one of the most contentious U.S. presidential elections in recent history.

Many of the answers reported here align with the core issues raised by: Mike Liebhold, distinguished colleague, retired, at The Institute for the Future, in answering this question. He noted: “A revolution in technology education and media services is needed to help populations safely adapt to radical changes in digital experiences expected to take place in 2035. Here are some of the key questions to be asked. stated:

  • How do we develop security and privacy technologies and practices that are sufficient to protect most people and organizations in these new environments?
  • How do we develop cognitive and behavioral science-enabled, cybertech-aware pedagogies and curricula to protect (provide immunity) people from systemic vulnerabilities to epidemics of false, misleading or true-malicious persuasive data and media?
  • How do we live and thrive in a dangerous digital world of ubiquitous vulnerabilities in systems and a perpetual spiral of exploits and patches – a world with lingering potential for significant cyber failures?
  • How do we find a way to live and thrive in an environment with these three simultaneous economic systems?
    • Secure private identity and data
    • Open/Public Identity and Data
    • Surveillance data (pervasive sensing and intrusive analytics).”

Some of the more intriguing predictions from those polled were:

  • Physical spaces and virtual spaces will be seamlessly integrated, and digital technologies will disappear so completely into our lives and our surrounding environments that we will hardly notice it. Some call it a “metaverse,” but it has different meanings and manifestations to different experts.
  • Super-advanced warning systems will be widely used in many domains, including healthcare, community wellbeing, environmental assessment, housing and commercial operations; and responsive collaborative groups will be ready to address the issues identified by these alert systems. In connection with this, community service hubs will exist to handle citizen and customer issues.
  • A new class of professionals – programmers, information curators, literacy consultants – will rise to help digital platforms encourage democratic behavior. They will enable a “culture of responsibility” in parts of the Internet that are deeply trusted.
  • Networked activist groups will emerge in younger generations to push for structural political change, and much of civilian life will be shaped by “K-pop fan armies.”
  • When making legislation itself, “citizen juries” could be used to bring “collective imagination” into legislation and regulation and ultimately make their own decisions about economic and social life. This will lead to much more public involvement in everything from government budgets to environmental regulation.
  • New forms of digital ownership and a new regime of copyright and ownership will be commonplace.
  • A Human API (application programming interface) will be designed to store and enforce the rules people set about what they can become aware of, what takes their time, and what information about their activities is shared.
  • The ongoing challenges to major systems such as capitalism, representative democracy, and nation-states will push people toward hyperlocal “sovereignty” — both geographically and through personal affinities and interests.
  • A large-scale education ecosystem will emerge to meet people’s formal and informal learning needs and it will be backed up with an equally impressive certification and testing regime to provide feedback to people and employers about those who participate in the system.
  • A Digital Bill of Rights will control at least some of the activity that takes place online.
  • A sharing economy will emerge to challenge the economy based on real estate ownership; subscription models also replace ownership regimes.
  • The sensitivities of science department will emerge and be employed in communities and industries.

In his response to this recruitment, Doc Sears, Internet pioneer, co-author of “The Cluetrain Manifesto” and “The economy of intentionand co-founder and board member at Customer Commons, shared a detailed vision based on work in progress to improve the internetincluding details about Self-sovereign identityEmancipationthe Intention Bywaypersistent compute objects (or picos), ‘palgorithms’ and ‘intentrons’.

In the following section, we highlight his comments, along with the thoughts of several experts who provided some of the most comprehensive or probing answers to our request for them to describe a better world online by 2035. In response, we offer a number of additional sections of respondents’ comments, arranged under the set of themes outlined in the table above.

Respondents’ comments on this solicitation reflect their personal views and are not the views of their employers; the descriptions of their leadership roles help identify their background and the place of their expertise. Some comments have been lightly edited for style and readability.

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