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The 2017-2018 surveys

Researchers at Elon University and the Pew Internet, Science & Technology Project are canvassing technology innovators, entrepreneurs, analysts, digital professionals and the highly engaged public twice over the span between July 2017 and July 2018, asking them to answer questions about current trends and imagine what may evolve. Thousands of predictions are being shared in these reports, illuminating hopes and identifying challenges.


Report on the Future of the Information Environment - Released October 19, 2017

What is the future of trusted, verified information online?
1,116 respondents replied between July and early August 2017 to the following prompt: The rise of "fake news" and the proliferation of doctored narratives that are spread by humans and bots online are challenging publishers and platforms. Those trying to stop the spread of false information are working to design technical and human systems that can weed it out and minimize the ways in which bots and other schemes spread lies and misinformation. The question - In the next 10 years, will trusted methods emerge to block false narratives and allow the most accurate information to prevail in the overall information ecosystem? Or will the quality and veracity of information online deteriorate due to the spread of unreliable, sometimes even dangerous, socially-destabilizing ideas?

Respondents also answered the following follow-up questions:

  • Briefly explain why the information environment will improve/not improve.
  • Is there a way to create reliable, trusted, unhackable verification systems? If not, why not, and if so what might they consist of?
  • What are the consequences for society as a whole if it is not possible to prevent the coopting of public information by bad actors?
  • If changes can be made to reduce fake and misleading information, can this be done in a way that preserves civil liberties? What rights might be curtailed?
  • What do you think the penalities should be for those who are found to have created or knowingly spread false information with the intent of causing harmful effects? What role, if any, should government play in taking steps to prevent the distribution of false information?
  • What do you think will happen to trust in information online by 2027?

Share Your Ideas for Our Next Question -
Report to be released sometime in 2018  

Do you have a suggestion for our next research question? Consider today's trends and the challenges and opportunities that are likely to be looming ahead in the next decade. What is another vital question we should be considering, as we move ahead into a fascinating and sometimes frustrating or even frightening future of digital communications? Send your ideas to: predictions at elon dot edu.