The future of the Internet is definitely no longer an abstract concept. It has arrived and society has long been heavily immersed with the tangible benefits (and drawbacks!) it has to offer. However, as time forges ahead, Internet capabilities continue to evolve and become more streamlined into daily living.
If you've grown up in an era where color television was pretty new, video games were not yet invented and microwaves were an abstract concept, it is truly mind boggling to think of the possibilities of the future since even cellphones were in their infancy. Yet they all of them came to fruition.
Future evolution where the Internet is concerned often seems limitless. Today's generation is used to rapid technological progress so the Millennial generation may not be as astounded to new changes since they have pretty much grown up in an Internet-centric evolution. However, to many of the older gen X, Baby Boomers and Veterans, this fast pace of development is probably an interesting ride.
As the Internet grows, it continues to transform social life, the business environment and other facets of life, including things such as global economics and even ethics. Who would have thought a mere decade or two ago that people would be talking simultaneously via the computer across the world through text, sound and images? Not to mention mobile technology growing at a staggering rate with new devices, such as wearable electronics, cropping up each year.
The Internet has completely changed the way people interact and communicate with one another. No more waiting for the mailman to deliver a letter or the once a week (or month!) expensive long-distance phone call. Email has long been the norm and social media has also been rapidly integrated into daily routines. Messages can be sent and received in an instant, using a number of different mediums, regardless of global location.
Over time it is possible there will be an even higher interaction of conversation between people. Instead of relying on typed communications through email, messenger, social network space or chatrooms, is it too farfetched to envision people talking at their computer monitor screens and carrying on a life conversation face-to-face?
I'm not talking Skype or other video types of chat, but why need a keyboard or mouse at all? Technology is designed to make things easier and with each progressive concept; more and more simplification is taking place. It's not hard to imagine hand motions and voice commands will become the norm at some point to accomplish what a mouse or keyboard currently does. It already has to some extent with gaming.
Could science-fiction become reality through the power of the Internet. Will it eventually be unleashed to include digital transportation to far off destinations? Or at least see holograms of people ala Star Wars?
While it sounds incredulous, could it might just be possible someday. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported researchers in The Netherlands successfully teleported information a distance of 10 feet. 1 One of the researchers said there is nothing in the laws of physics that indicates human teleportation isn't possible. This WaPo article then led to mention of a quantum Internet, stating,
"Other innovators see quantum mechanics as the key to creating a quantum Internet, in which packets of information are securely exchanged vast distances without actually having to travel those distances."
If this comes to fruition, it's amazing to think about what might be accomplished some time down the road.
Less than a decade ago you couldn't order take-out on the Internet, but now this has become the norm. Imagine all the other kinds of services which can be offered through the Internet and other peripheral technologies which also can be used jointly with the web.
E-commerce has thrived. Today people can shop, place orders, and make arrangements to have products delivered all without any human interaction; that is until the delivery point, currently, a life person handles this aspect. However, what if the Internet was linked up with robotics to handle this aspect of customer service as well? The consumer clicks the mouse, types in (or simply speaks into a microphone) the order, and through robotics products are delivered immediately. Through the power of wireless, is anything possible? Driverless cars are on the horizon, with Google and a number of other carmakers pursuing autonomous vehicles which could fill some of these tasks.
The Internet has also highly transformed how people work. Who would have thought you could work in one continent with your company and boss be working in another? Telecommuting has thrived due to the tremendous benefits the Internet offers and today it is entirely possible to work thousands of miles away from your employer and share real-time information. The only thing missing is the actual face-to-face interaction in person.
Is it possible the aforementioned teleportation (or other technology) will eventually emerge? Will someday people essentially be able to commute through the web to land at their places of business? Far-fetched as it sounds, as tech development moves forward, it's interesting to think about what might just be possible.
The Internet plays a pivotal role in developing economic growth, but with all the positives, there are always tradeoffs. In this case some of the tradeoffs relate to ethics. In a world which has already established real-time tracking through embedded electronic chips, the possibilities of where this path could lead could be dangerous.
Businesses are already heavily digitally tracking consumer habits over the Internet, is it too far-fetched to think products or people will contain tracking devices where the web is used as one of the main components? In many ways, it is not hard to envision a world with embedded tracking chips, seamless communication and an increased "big brother" mentality. To some extent this has already arrived, but the potential for a darker future is there.
With integrated tracking, people are likely to not even realize the privacy which has been lost through the transition of processes. As each generation becomes adjusted to the norm of less privacy, confidentiality and privacy will likely continue to erode. All tech predictions indicate the Internet will become more seamless and people won't even "feel" as if they are using it. Yet the data contained will be used in some shape or form. The big question is who will be using it?
A century from now the world will likely be a very different place as the Internet continues to thrive with the limitless possibilities. What used to be wired is now wireless, and as the use of mobile devices continues to boom with bringing along its own risks, this reason alone demonstrates the immeasurable potential the future holds.
Using the Internet, humans have the amazing ability to create phenomenal growth, but by the same token humans also possess the ability to destroy. If we are not careful and look at the bigger picture instead of just the smaller and "cooler" possibilities, the ethical and foundational philosophies many societies are founded upon may no longer be recognized in the same form in which they were born.
Just because we can, does it mean we should? With tech's progress will come big responsibility. There will undoubtedly be pros and cons of the future Internet, not unlike we have now, just very different uses of the technology.
The perhaps bigger question is, are we up to the task? Once we travel down certain paths, there may be no turning back.
What kinds of things would you like to see? What about things that should never be?