The Net¹s next frontier

By Ross Dawson on July 3, 2006 | Permalink

What will the Internet look like in the year 2016? In case you haven’t noticed, technology is developing exponentially so in ten years time the Internet will be something like a thousand times larger in terms of size and impact than it is today. The number of Internet users will most likely treble from 1 to 3 billion users and we will see the barriers between our physical selves and our virtual selves melt away. Our interaction with the Internet will also migrate from physical objects in fixed locations to mobile devices and devices invisibly embedded in our everyday environment.
In the future almost everything will be a computer and almost everything will be connected to everything else. Going further into the future, computers as we know them today won’t exist. They will be embedded in our clothes and even our bodies and we will be able to access the Internet just by thinking about it. We will have full sensory links to people we’ve never met and to places we’ve never been. There will also be more things (“machines”) connected to the Internet as RFID tags and sensor motes take off, creating vast sensor networks. Location tracking will also be built in to people and things, which will please some people. Search will still be big but it will include physical proximity and information will be linked to the reliability of the source. Everything will be ranked ­ including rankings. As for who owns or who controls the Internet, chances are governments will increase their interference as the Internet becomes a critical part of the global economy. This may mean that the centre of the Internet universe shifts away from the US, or it could mean the opposite if countries like China attempt to further restrict access, or the Internet becomes a government-run monopoly.