Technologists predict interconnected world by 2020
A global, low-cost network with billions of devices attached will be available to most people around the world by 2020 according to a survey of leading technologists undertaken by Pew Research.
Over half think the main priority should be to build up this network and bring the benefits to those already online. Author Howard Rheingold explained, ‘Without affordable access, knowledge of how to use the technology, and the legal and operating environment that permits innovation, we won’t see the creative explosion we saw with personal computers and the internet.’
At the same time a significant minority, 42 per cent of respondents, were gloomy about humanity’s ability to control the technology it is unleashing. They predicted that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in control of the mass of interconnected computers.
Paul Saffo, forecaster and director of The Institute for the Future, for example, expressed the fears of many when he said that ‘sometime after 2020 our machines will become intelligent, evolve rapidly, and end up treating us as pets.’
Also, as virtual reality improves and massively networked virtual worlds become ever more compelling, a new addiction could arise as people spend more and more time online.
In response, the survey warns of the development of a new breed of Luddite who will refuse to become involved in the technology and so drop out of society. Some of these, according to the report, may turn to violence to halt what they see as a new slavery.