Internet @ 2020: A Peep into the Future

DUBAI – Hearing people yell into their mobile phones without any concern for others in the vicinity may soon be a thing of the past. If the fast-paced technological advances being made each day are any indication, it is time to prepare for some more strange behavioural patterns.

By Aruna Urs

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Published: Sun 21 Dec 2008, 12:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:14 AM

If one of these days you come across people ‘air-typing’ while sitting in a restaurant or, for that matter, anywhere, do not assume that they are suffering from somnambulism. The fact is that they are typing on a virtual keyboard that is visible to them only.

According to a survey covering 578 leading Internet analysts, activists and thought leaders, by the end of next decade, the mobile phones will be the primary connection tool to the Internet for most people in the world.

The results of the survey on Evolution of Internet by 2020 were released recently by Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The trend is already visible, with increasing popularity of web-enabled phones like iPhone and Black Berry.

According to Wireless Intelligence, there will be about 4 billion mobile phones by the end of this year and about 15 per cent of those will be Internet-enabled.

However, according to Pew, future devices will be more of a multi-tasking handheld computer than mobile phone which will be used for more tasks than just voice communication.

The experts agreed that the well-equipped Internet users will spend a major part of their ‘waking’ hours — at work and at play — at least partially linked to augmentations of the real world or alternate worlds. This lifestyle involves seamless transitions between virtual reality and real life. There will be few lines dividing professional time from personal time as work and play will be seamlessly integrated in most workers’ lives.

While some respondents were hopeful about a hyper-connected future with more freedom, flexibility and life enhancements, others expressed fears that mobility and ubiquity of networked computing devices will be harmful for most people by adding to stress and challenging domestic and social life.

The Pew study also reveals that the transparency of people and organisations will increase as they will be more open to sharing personal information, opinions and emotions than they are now.

But wider exposure to others may not lead to greater social tolerance, the survey report noted.

Of course, apart from the benefits there would be bad news for media companies. Three out of five experts opined that laws and regulations will not be able to rein in the blatant copyright violations on cyber world and they said that “cracking” technology will stay ahead of technology to control intellectual property (IP) or policy regulating IP.

Many experts think that new economic models will have to be implemented with an assumption what was classified as paid content will have to be offered for free or in exchange for attention or some other unit of value.

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