3 internet trends for the near future

2014-03-17 13:41
Future expansion of the internet will be driven by more connected devices and machine to machine communication. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Future expansion of the internet will be driven by more connected devices and machine to machine communication. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The internet is at a crossroads: On the one hand it is growing to connect more people to the world wide web, but on the other hand, concerns about privacy grow.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) opened the internet to new domain names in the most expansive move since the inception of the web.

But many are concerned about cyber squatting and crime as the internet grows and worry that the future may be more Orwellian - a far cry from the open nature of the web envisioned by creator Tim Berners-Lee 25 years ago.

Nathaniel Borenstein shares three of his top internet trends for the near future.

1. Healthcare:

The ever growing power of our computing devices will have profound implications for healthcare. For instance, we could see implantable networked devices become commonplace.

These devices will offer great benefits, such as detecting and preventing diseases by alerting individuals and their medical professionals of vitamin deficiencies, irregular cell counts, degrading organ functions, or even early-stage cancer.

These same devices, however, could do more harm than good - from revealing personal medical information to triggering a heart attack - if they fall under the control of malicious actors.

2. Crime Prevention:

Surveillance technology and its regulation are already a hot topic today. But we will have much more to contend with in another quarter century, as internet capabilities continue to advance.

Continuing miniaturisation will probably mean that we'll have effectively invisible cameras nearly everywhere - even embedded in our clothing.

On the one hand, recording the daily actions of citizens worldwide may bring a major decrease in crime, as visible crime becomes less likely to succeed.

But on the other hand, uncontrolled surveillance may bring forth a rise in intrusive snooping from government agencies, corporations, and other entities.

As such, we'll need to continually and carefully consider how such surveillance technologies should be used, and to consider measures such as mandated transparency to allow us to "watch the watchers".

3. Technology's Impact on Manufacturing:

Technological advances over the next 25 years are likely to result in widespread adoption of 3D printing, allowing people to print things at home that would otherwise require whole industries.

This could result in a boom for home invention, with things like new design innovations coming more quickly to light. It's possible that the internet will once again rewrite supply chains, likely to the detriment of traditional manufacturing.

We could experience a further shift to an economy based not on the supply of physical objects, but digital ones.

Borenstein is Mimecast's Chief Scientist and the co-creator of the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) standard and the developer of several widely-used software systems.
Read more on:    internet  |  online privacy

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