March 11, 2014

Digital Life in 2025

Pithy Additions — Trendhouses, Microjobs, Metadevices,  More

The following are additional highlights from some of the predictions that had a summary quality to them or added new thoughts to the mix that extended beyond the theses or used especially vivid language:

Bob Frankston, Internet pioneer and technology innovator, said, “Once we get past the gatekeeper-based model of funding our ability to communicate we’ll start to rethink how we create systems. We’ll just assume, for example, that a medical monitor will ‘just work’ wherever we are and if we show symptoms of a heart attack in the next hour an ambulance will be there to meet us. We’ll continue to define new topologies for social relationships and trust that they are less tied to geography. We’ll also see the rise of metadevices and understandings, some of which is latent in the terms big data and Internet of Things — terms that will fade away because reality will be far more interesting.”

Jerry Michalski, founder of REX, the Relationship Economy eXpedition, observed, “The Internet gives us Persistence — the ability to leave things for one another in cyberspace, freely. This is a big deal we haven’t yet comprehended. Right now, we are obsessed with flow, with the immediate, with the evanescent. Persistence lets us collaborate for the long term, which is what we’ll slowly learn to do … We will begin to design institutions from a basis of trust of the average person, instead of mistrust, the way we’ve been designing for a few centuries. This will let us build very different institutions for learning, culture, creativity, and more.”

Gamification sees the workplace change to microjobs, measured and monitored. Personal reputation is quantified by scoring systems and algorithms so complicated that only the bots that change them by the microsecond can understand them. The current walls that separate humanity (demographics, psychographics) will diminish, and after a massive trolling war, value systems will be re-established with people fearful to say what they really think, in case their personal reputation score — online, viewable, actionable  — diminishes. X Factor 2025 continues to rate well.Laurel Papworth, social media educator

Andrew Chen, associate professor of computer science at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MN), responded, “The Internet is a dangerous place — it spreads vice easily.  The Internet is a powerful place — it enables oppressed peoples to gather together and achieve power through a shared voice. The Internet is a seductive place — it provides multiple opportunities for people to ignore the rest of their lives. The Internet is a chimera — it starts out seeming powerful, then it becomes seductive, and then it becomes dangerous. The Internet is the fullest expression of human nature — and how you see it reflects you more than anything else. The Internet has already impacted too much. The seductive aspects are the worst. As people forsake the rest of their lives, it becomes a drain on humanity that transforms humans into just small parts of the Internet, whereas it should be that the Internet is a small part of human life.”

Mikey O’Connor, an elected representative to ICANN’s GNSO Council, representing the ISP and Connectivity Provider Constituency, wrote, “The Internet will be used as the most effective force of mind control the planet has ever seen, leaving the Madison Avenue revolution as a piddling, small thing by comparison.”

Andrew Bridges, partner, Internet law litigator and policy analyst at Fenwick & West LLP, wrote, “The Internet will facilitate the fundamental threat of governmental control — the threats to free speech, free association and assembly resulting from governmental surveillance and control; the loss of any sense of a private sphere of conduct as a result, with psychological, social, and political consequences; and the division of citizen bodies into the watchers and the watched. It will happen because of the power of governments to hide their actions while exposing the actions of all others to their own scrutiny; the abandonment of the rule of law, which should but will not apply impartially to all sectors of society, politics, and the economy; and the willing sacrifice of Constitutional values by those who unpatriotically value their own short-term physical security over our long-term bedrock political principles.”

Marcel Bullinga, futurist and author of author of Welcome to the Future Cloud — 2025 in 100 Predictions, responded, “The future will be cheap — due to the fact we can print everything, know almost everything, and share everything: knowledge, innovation, infrastructure. The future will also be highly competitive, raising much social distress, and we will suffer from a massive lack of focus and mindfulness. The key to the future is not ownership but access. We need trendhouses: houses that we do not own, but that we are subscribed to. We need a subscription to health-, living-, and energy services. Spotify-houses and Ikea-homes in one.

Evan Michelson, a researcher exploring the societal and policy implications of emerging technologies, wrote, “The biggest impact of the Internet is that it will no longer allow for reasoned consideration of complex social challenges. What the Internet will do is make it more difficult to contemplate the longer-term implications of decisions made today. The future will, unfortunately, suffer in service of the present.”

Andrew Nachison, co-founder of We Media, said, “There will be more communication, more education, more media, more economic activity, more dissent, more entertainment, more convenience, more angst, more inequality and more conflict. Ideas will spread everywhere, but people will continue to clash over beliefs and values.

David Solomonoff, president of the New York chapter of the Internet Society, “I think that digital currencies and 3D printing (with open source designs distributed via the Internet) are two areas where the roles of government and large commercial/industrial entities will be challenged.  Again, those that accommodate these changes will succeed, those that don’t will be in a state of decline. The relationships between citizen/consumer and government/corporation will need to be more consensual and based on trust rather than coercion.”