Pew: It’s A Gibson, Stephanson World

Pew has released a report, Future of the Internet II, where futurists (742 of them) imagine what the world will be like in 2020. (tip) That world was envisioned by William Gibson and Neal Stephanson (as well as P.K. Dick) decades ago. From the web and report summary (pdf):

  • Human control over technology: [A] significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans’ ability to control the technology in the future.
  • Luddites, technological “refuseniks,” and violence: Tech “refuseniks” will emerge as a cultural group characterized by
    their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way
    to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of
    violence and terror against technology-inspired change.
  • Ubiquitious, low-cost networks: A majority of respondents agreed with a scenario which posited that a global, low-cost network will be thriving in 2020 and will be available to most people around the world at low cost. And they agreed that a tech-abetted “flattening” of the world will open up opportunities for success for many people who will compete globally.
  • Transparency vs. privacy: There is a widespread expectation that people will wittingly or unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy. Respondents split evenly on whether the world will be a better place in 2020 due to the greater transparency of people and institutions afforded by the internet: 46% agreed that the benefits of greater
    transparency of organizations and individuals would outweigh the privacy costs and
    49% disagreed.
  • The fate of language online: English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced.
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