The internet has certainly come a long way since its inception. No longer is it limited to military or corporate use, with most people in today’s industrialized countries owning at least one, if not several, electronic devices capable of connecting to the World Wide Web.
Many services and knowledge bases that just ten years ago we could never imagine obtainable from the internet are now ubiquitous. And with the advent and subsequent prevalence of social media, privacy has taken on a whole new definition. Instead of keeping our own secrets, we now expect the social networking sites to keep them for us. We get angry when personal information we shouldn’t really be sharing in the first place becomes leaked to strangers. (Of course, I’m not condoning the constant changes in Facebook’s privacy settings – I find that a gross invasion. I’m just saying that we should also take responsibility for what we say and do on SNSs, making sure that we don’t share anything we don’t want outsiders to become privy to.)
The main trend that bears watching pertaining to the future of the internet is Web 3.0, also known as the semantic web. In this version of the internet, the computer, rather than humans, is generating new information, and users will thus be able to sit back and let the machine do everything for them. While this may sound appealing to some, I cannot help but be reminded of the scenario portrayed in the movie I Robot. Set in 2035, anthropomorphic robots used widely as servants for various public services are controlled by V.I.K.I., a supercomputer whose artificial intelligence eventually grows to the extent that it gains independent consciousness. V.I.K.I comes to believe that humans are incompetent of taking care of themselves, and should be protected at all costs, even if said protection involves killing some of the people.
Thereupon arises a question – will Web 3.0 follow in the footsteps of V.I.K.I? Is such a situation really a distinct possibility in the near future?
I guess one can only wait and see.