What will the techies of 2025 take for granted? Will technology trump personal privacy?
Take a look around. The fact may have snuck up on you, but we live in a science fiction world. The way technology has completely saturated our daily lives is simply taken for granted. Sure, there are still those who ask when we’ll get flying cars and hoverboards, but the world has already changed in nearly unbelievable ways just since the turn of the century.
My great-grandparents were born in a home without electricity or running water. My grandparents were born into a world without commercial air travel or radio. My parents were born before the advent of television. Heck, I was born before man walked on the moon or the invention of the Internet.
These days, all of those things are taken for granted without anyone really thinking about how, historically speaking, the rate of progress has been nothing short of miraculous. It is almost impossible to even think about a world without the Internet, we’ve become so used to the near-instantaneous communication and access to information that has utterly changed the way we live, work and play.
And there’s no reason to think the rate of progress is going to slow down.
What will the online world be like for our children and grandchildren when they are our age now? That is the question the Pew Internet Project asked of nearly 2,000 experts. The Digital Life in 2025 report, issued in association with Elon University’s Imaging the Internet Center, is absolutely fascinating reading.
One of the main predictions the vast majority of the experts agreed upon was how the Internet would grow into a totally immersive and nearly invisible global network. It will be made up of smart sensors, cameras, intuitive software of near artificial-intelligence levels, massive databases that know more about you than you do yourself, enormous data centers that contain all the minutia and knowledge of the world, all combined in what is being called the “Internet of Things”.
Yet, while the experts agree on the future, there is great debate about the wisdom of this progress. There are grave concerns raised about the continued erosion of personal privacy, not just by governments but by businesses as well. It’s already amazing how much Google and Amazon know about you. Think about how nearly impossible it will be to keep anything private by 2025.
Sure, it’s highly likely that the average citizen of 2025 will have all sorts of devices and gadgets that keep them not only connected to the “Internet of Things” but also monitor their health, physical activity, whereabouts, and so forth. But is this really a good thing?
There will be many benefits, especially when it comes to your personal health—but there are just as many concerns. Where do we draw the line on privacy? Where do we draw the line on the freedom to make our own decisions, be they good or bad?
I love technology. I just love freedom more. Hopefully, the people of 2025 will love freedom just as much. What I worry about is they will love something they no longer have.