For my final blog post, I felt it might be fitting to examine where the Internet is headed in the next few years. There is very little consensus on the matter – aside from the fact that the large companies will begin to monopolise the Internet more and more. Already, Google has more gidgets than even they know what to do with, and more and more people are flocking to Gtalk, Gmail and the like.
However, trying to decipher where exactly technology is heading in the next decade or two is difficult. Some people are convinced we’re heading for a fatalistic 2001: A Space Odyssey approach (or for you younger fans out there, The Matrix), where technology and artificial intelligence spin out of control and suddenly we find ourselves at the mercy of super-intelligent androids. Kinda like C3P0, only much scarier (Alright, I think I’ve exhausted all my science-fiction metaphors here).
That’s fine, but for me it falls in line with the Large Hadron Collider doomsday theories – “Ah! We’re all going to be eaten by monsters coming through the wormhole it makes in the time-space continuum” and the like.
A slightly more reliable source is the Pew Internet study conducted in 2006. Interestingly, 42% of the respondents indicated that they believe we will begin to lose control over technology in the future. “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…” (2001 again).
What interested me, and what goes back to an earlier post of mine, is the fact that many respondents felt that the potential for addiction will grow as advances are made with virtual reality, ultimately “unbalancing the workforce”. I agree with the fact that more and more people will be enter into virtual reality scenarios like Second Life as bandwidth and equipment becomes cheaper, but unbalancing the workforce? I have images of hundreds of thousands of employers tearing out their hair as their workers call in sick or stop showing up to work. Not likely, either. People need to eat, and pay their Internet connection fees. Thus, they need to work.
What the survey also indicates is that the Internet will become more widespread, a “low-cost global network”. I love this idea. I attended the Digital Citizens Indaba on September 5 and blogged about Skyrove – which as you can see I visualised as being able to provide underprivileged communities with Internet access.
I really hope some bigwig in a suit gets off his high horse and sees the virtue in providing Internet to the poor. No, it probably won’t make you a wackload of money, but at least you’ll be able to say you contributed. I would like the masses of content and experiences available online to be made available to the disadvantaged. After all, the Internet is hardly as democratic as it’s made out to be if the only people who can access it are the middle class and above.
But hey, it couldn’t be called a cyber “culture” if everyone was included, now would it?
Here’s to a couple of months well spent, and I hope I’ve given you all something to think about.