The Evolution of Cyberspace – Progression or Regression?

Ever wondered where the future of internet will take us? How far its capabilities might stretch? If it will even benefit us? I hadn’t, well, not until this week at least.

mobile-phone-426559_960_720During the course of this week I’ve been getting to grips with the past, the present and the future of the web. How it has changed, and how it is expected to change in the future. Numerous acronyms later (Honestly, who didn’t think the web was complex enough?) and I’m left with one question. Whilst all the discoveries I’ve made are mind blowingly impressive, I can’t help but wonder – is this really a good idea?

Lets take it back to beginning..

Web 1.0 went live to world back in the early 1990’s, introduced by Tim Berners-Lee as a static web. It’s main purpose was publishing information, similar to the web we see now in some ways, however Web 1.0 wasn’t interactive. Users had to manually update pages to see if new information had been added, very different from the functions of Web 2.0 that we all know and use today.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s and Web 2.0 was born. Broadband became a thing and the internet took a huge leap into the future. Websites are now more than just information sources, they allow users to interact, create and update web pages and content. Web 2.0 has also been a big contributor to the huge web phenomenon, SOCIAL MEDIA. Without web 2.0, what would social media would look like?

Social media and Web 2.0, the platform of today.

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Web 2.0 and social media combined go hand in hand. Many of Web 2.0 capabilities are reflected throughout social media. For example, web 2.0 enables users to tag content, allowing for information to be easily categorised and located. Tagging is common on Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

RSS is also commonly used to continually update information, removing the need to endlessly check for updates. Think about your Facebook page, you can see comments posted in real time without the need to refresh the page. More benefits such as type and form assist are present in web 2.0. Both of these functions see the web memorise certain details, for example your name or email address.

Before we jump forward into the future, lets take a brief look at Information architecture. This is the key to the future of the web, it assists in the design and build of websites to include new and updated features, without it, we would probably still be looking at web 1.0.

Fast forward into the not so distant future..

arrow-27070_960_720Web 3.0. It doesn’t exist yet but that’s what makes the speculation all the more exciting. There are numerous ideas for web 3.0, one idea is to make the discovery of data more effective, along with improved automation and enhanced customer interaction. When I hear this,  I think web 2.0 but better, almost like the release of a new iPhone, its not ground breaking but it doesn’t usually disappoint.

There are a few more futuristic suggestions too.

The Semantic Web

The term came from the inventor of the web itself, Tim Berners-Lee . The idea behind the Semantic Web is to introduce an element of artificial intelligence, not quite in a Terminator sense but by using large amounts of data to increase the usability of the browser. The aim is for computers to store such vast amounts of data that they are able to interact with humans more efficiently. There have even been suggestions that Web 3.0 could work as a personal assistant by learning your interests and behaviours. The Semantic Web is increasingly known as the ‘Web of Data’ and I can see why. The amount of data required to allow such things to work is mind blowing.

The Internet of Things

According to Neil Gershenfeld in Web 2.0 and beyond the internet of things could be the most important development in the history of the internet. The idea is that instead of connecting people, we begin to connect things.

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For example, take a wireless heat pump unit. I can control my unit from an app on my phone. I don’t have to physically touch the unit at all, I can make it maintain a  temperature or make it switch off at a specific time. But far more impressive things are possible. What if the unit could self regulate? Reducing the temperature on hot days, absorbing all moisture on wet days or increasing the temperature on colder days without any prompting from us? There are many possibilities around the Internet of Things, but I guess we will have to wait and see how that eventuates.

 

The very distant future..

arrow-27070_960_720Web 4.0 doesn’t yet exist and is only really speculation at this stage. One idea according to International Journal of Web & Semantic Technology is the Symbiotic web.

The Symbiotic web gets intense, creating mind controlled interfaces and the like. There is a lot of suggestions leading towards artificial intelligence, who knows perhaps Web 5.0 will have a conscious mind?

But this brings me to a question that I’ve been mulling over all week.

These technologies are fascinating and the possibilities are nothing less than amazing, but, are these ideas really good for us?

Regression?

The more technology advances the more likely it is that we’ll become redundant beings. Will there be any need for human beings when a more efficient being has been created? Your browser doesn’t need sleep, or have emotions to affect its mood. It can run at an almost constant rate as instructed with minimal disruptions and errors.

Decisions would be made by beings so much more advanced than you or I, so what would happen to us? This isn’t to say it wouldn’t benefit us in many ways, but would it make us inadequate beings?

Over the past 30 years the internet has evolved and progressed in phenomenal ways, but will giving the technology to much power, or a conscious mind for that matter, leave human beings in the past?

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Images have been obtained from Pixabay, and are free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.

 

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