Information gathered for the 1990 to 1995 Elon University/Pew Internet Imagining the Internet Predictions Database was a partial inspiration for the formulation of the questions for the 2004 Experts Survey. The 2004 questions were purposely constructed in a many-layered manner to spur discussion, and while they are rooted in some previous predictive statements they do not represent the beliefs or research conclusions of any of the researchers. This page offers some background – a backstory of sorts – tied to the 2004 questions that helps put things in context.
Prediction on social networks
By 2014, use of the internet will increase the size of people’s social networks far beyond what has traditionally been the case. This will enhance trust in society, as people have a wider range of sources from which to discover and verify information about job opportunities, personal services, common interests, and products.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the general drift of the commentary skews in agreement with this prediction on social networks. However, some predictors saw problems with the potential for a digital divide, overt commercialism and/or the evils associated with life in a high-speed world to spoil this dream. Here are a few selections:
– In his 1995 book “Democracy and Technology,” Richard Sclove writes: “One function of democratic community is to provide a social foundation for self-governance and individual political empowerment. This suggests that community boundaries ought normally to remain roughly contiguous with the territorial boundaries defining formal political accountability and agency. Yet the criterion of local self-governance is breached if involvement in spatially dispersed social networks grows to subvert a collective capacity to govern the locales people physically inhabit. And the criterion of egalitarian empowerment is breached if coveys of technorich cronies are empowered to telelobby senators, while technopoor neighbors are excluded from the circuit.”
– In a 1995 online essay, Justin Hall makes the following statement: “I encourage all my friends in the commercial sector to be generous, and trust that their product is worth talking about. Leave the channels open for people to do so. Otherwise, the Internet will accelerate the self-loathing and dissatisfaction that comes with advertising’s endless call for immediate gratification. Identified by and targeted for our product consumption, we will find ourselves receiving more personalized mail from products than from people. They will know us, and they will manipulate us. We will end up hating the Internet, and ourselves.”
– In a 1995 article for The Nation, adapted from his book “Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution,” Kirkpatrick Sale urges people to step back and question technology: “This transformation is, without anyone being prepared for it, overwhelming the communities and institutions and customs that once were the familiar stanchions of our lives … No wonder there are some people who are Just Saying No. They have a great variety of stances and tactics, but the technophobes and technoresisters out there are increasingly coming together under the banner that dates to those attackers of technology of two centuries ago, the Luddites … These would include those several million people in all the industrial nations whose jobs have simply been automated out from under them or have been sent overseas as part of the multinationals’ global network, itself built on high-tech communications … They may include, too, quite a number of those whose experience with high technology in the home or office has left them confused or demeaned, or frustrated by machines too complex to understand, much less to repair, or assaulted and angered by systems that deftly invade their privacy, or deny them credit, or turn them into ciphers. Whereever … neo-Luddites may be found, they are attempting to bear witness to the secret little truth that lies at the heart of modern experience: Whatever its presumed benefits, of speed, or ease, or power, or wealth, industrial technology comes at a price, and in the contemporary world that price is ever rising and ever threatening.”
Prediction on attacks on network infrastructure
At least one devastating attack will occur in the next 10 years on the networked information infrastructure or the country’s power grid.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary skews in agreement with the prediction that malicious attacks could be launched on the system. Individuals who discounted the likelihood of attacks tended to be people who spoke out against government regulation (through key-escrow encryption, etc.) that could take away civil liberties. Here are a few examples:
– In a 1995 article for The New York Times, John Markoff talks with Eric Schmidt, chief technology officer for Sun Microsystems, regarding computer viruses. Markoff writes: “‘I think [viruses] will be an extraordinarily serious problem over the next few years,’ said Eric Schmidt, chief technical officer at Sun Microsystems Inc. ‘If you believe the theory that nearly all personal computers will be on corporate networks or online services in the next two or three years, then this is a problem that could touch all PC users worldwide … There are criminals in the world, and some of them are programmers. With computer networks, they have an amplifying effect that they’ve never had before. If I were a criminal with a gun, I might attack one person. But with a computer network, I can attack a million people at a time. It’s like an atomic bomb.'”
– In their 1994 book “Firewalls and Internet Security,” Steven Bellovin and William Cheswick write: “The advent of mobile computing will also stress traditional security architectures. We see this today, to some extent, with the need to pass X11 through the firewall. It will be more important in the future. How does one create a firewall that can protect a portable computer, one that talks to its home network via a public IP network? Certainly, all communication can be encrypted, but how is the portable machine itself to be protected from network-based attacks? What services must it offer, in order to function as a mobile host? What about interactions with local facilities, such as printers or disk space? The face of the network security problem will certainly change over the years. But we?re certain of one thing: it won?t go away.”
– In a 1995 article for Wired magazine, Peter Schwartz, co-founder and president of Global Business Network and author of “The Art of the Long View,” interviews Andrew Marshall, a national security researcher/consultant whose work included stints at the RAND think tank in 1949 and 22 years at the Pentagon, under six presidents. Schwartz quotes Marshall saying: “There may well be an increase in guerrilla warfare because new technologies may increase our vulnerability to it. We are living in the equivalent of the early 1920s, when tanks, airplanes, and later radar and radio were new, and people weren’t sure what they were or how to use them. We have only preliminary ideas about how today’s technology is going to change warfare. But it will. In the old world, if I wanted to attack something physical, there was one way to get there. You could put guards and guns around it, you could protect it. But a database – or a control system – usually has multiple pathways, unpredictable routes to it, and seems intrinsically impossible to protect. That’s why most efforts at computer security have been defeated.”
Prediction on digital products
In 2014, it will still be the case that the vast majority of internet users will easily be able to copy and distribute digital products freely through anonymous peer-to-peer networks.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary skews in agreement with the prediction on freedom to copy digital products. Kelly, Dyson and Barlow were the big names speaking out on this topic, but there were others. Here are a few:
– In an article she wrote in 1995 for Wired magazine, Esther Dyson comments on intellectual property rights in the future on the Internet: “In the new communities of the Net, the intrinsic value of content generally will remain high, but most individual items will have a short commercial half-life. Creators will have to fight to attract attention and get paid. Creativity will proliferate, but quality will be scarce and hard to recognize. The problem for providers of intellectual property in the future is this: Although under law they will be able to control the pricing of their own products, they will operate in an increasingly competitive marketplace where much of the intellectual property is distributed free and suppliers explode in number.”
– In a 1994 article he wrote for newspaper The Guardian of London, Wired magazine editor Kevin Kelly says: “Let the copies breed. Whatever it is that we are constructing by connecting everything to everything, we know the big thing will copy effortlessly. The I-way is a gigantic copy machine. It is a law of the digital realm: anything digital will be copied, and anything copied once will fill the universe. Further, every effort to restrict copying is doomed to failure … Controlling copies is futile. This presents a problem for all holders of intellectual property who adhere to the notion of copyright – such as Hollywood moguls and authors. Copyright law as we know it will be dead in 50 years. A legal system that shifts the focus from the ‘copy’ to the ‘use’ must take its place, letting copies proliferate, and tracking only how and when an item is used. Copy this article, please!”
– In a 1993 article for Internet World, Mike Godwin, chief counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, outlines issues in regard to law and the Internet. Godwin writes: “The law of intellectual property, which includes the law of copyright, will have to adapt to a world in which advances in technology increasingly undercut one’s ability to enforce intellectual-property rights. Only now has it become clear the extent to which copyright law has depended on the ‘bottleneck’ created by the costs of printing (and, later, of photocopying). As of today, it remains far easier simply to buy the magazine containing a short story than it is to photocopy that story, or to have a copy printed by a printshop at your own expense. But … the costs of reproducing all sorts of intellectual property are falling rapidly … It has been argued that the current copyright regime could be replaced by one based on usage fees, but that suggestion overlooks a couple of important obstacles. First of all, once someone acquires information from an online publisher, there’s little disincentive to spread that information around. (Why should you call up Nexis, for example, when I did a similar search last week and can forward my search results to you in e-mail?) The second problem is that both the Internet and the proposed infrastructural schemes that could replace it are highly decentralized. This decentralization of the Net makes billing for and tracking use of intellectual property very difficult … I have long believed that, when a law’s requirements are so unrealistic that they are routinely broken by otherwise law-abiding citizens, it’s a sign that the law needs to be changed.”
– In 1994, John Perry Barlow wrote an article for Wired that he described as, “a framework for rethinking patents and copyrights in the Digital Age.” In this section,”Information is a Life Form,” Barlow looks at how information changes and how difficult it is to copyright this evolving form: “Our system of copyright makes no accommodation whatever for expressions which don’t become fixed at some point, nor for cultural expressions which lack a specific author or inventor. Jazz improvisations, stand-up comedy routines, mime performances, developing monologues, and unrecorded broadcast transmissions all lack the Constitutional requirement of fixation as a ‘writing.’ Without being fixed by a point of publication, the liquid works of the future will all look more like these continuously adapting and changing forms, and will therefore exist beyond the reach of copyright… Soon most information will be generated collaboratively by the cyber-tribal hunter-gatherers of cyberspace. Our arrogant dismissal of the rights of ‘primitives’ will soon return to haunt us.”
– In a 1994 article for The Toronto Sun, Scott Magnish talks with Lance Hoffman about law on the Internet. Magnish writes: “The concept of ‘copyrighting’ could be lost on the information highway as the world moves closer to the free flow of information, U.S. experts said … ‘Does copyright have a chance?’ Hoffman asked rhetorically. ‘I’m increasingly leery of the pressure. The economic pressures and even some of the social pressures are such that it may not. Maybe the whole nature of intellectual property has to be reexamined.'”
– In a 1995 report from a joint hearing of the House and Senate Judiciary committees Courts and Intellectual Property subcommittees, testimony from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) includes the following statement: “We must update our copyright laws to protect the intellectual property rights of creative works available online. The future growth of computer networks, like the Internet, and of digital, electronic communications require it. Otherwise, owners of intellectual property will be unwilling to put their material online. If there is no content worth reading online, the growth of this medium will be stifled, and public accessibility will be retarded.”
Prediction on civic engagement
Civic involvement will increase substantially in the next 10 years, thanks to ever-growing use of the internet. That would include membership in groups of all kinds, including professional, social, sports, political and religious organizations – and perhaps even bowling leagues.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the general drift of the commentary skews in agreement with the prediction, but there were plenty of people concerned that online involvement would cause problems, including a reduction in important human-to-human interaction. The predictions were grouped under the subtopic of “virtual communities.” Here are a few:
– In a 1993 article he wrote for Newsweek magazine, Howard Rheingold says: “If we don’t lose the freedom to speak as we choose, and if the price of access doesn’t restrict virtual communities to the wealthy, we have the opportunity to build a grassroots electronic democracy. But first we have to understand the nature of the medium, its pitfalls as well as its benefits. Virtual communities are not utopias … There are dark sides, just as every technology cast cultural shadows. Electronic bulletin-board systems can bring people together, but the computer screen can be a way of controlling relationships, keeping people at a distance. Words on a screen help people communicate without the usual barriers of prejudice based on appearance. That same distancing of real-life identity and online persona can lead to cybercads and charlatans who use the medium to swindle others. People are cruel and rude to each other in real communities – and human nature doesn’t change because the community is mediated by a computer screen. Computer-mediated communications are particularly susceptible to deception … Every new communication technology – including the telephone – brings people together in new ways and distances them in others. If we are to make good decisions as a society about a powerful new communition medium, we must not fail to look at the human element.”
– In a 1995 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about Carnegie Mellon University’s HomeNet Project – a three-year study of how 50 families were using the Internet – Steve Creedy quotes Robert Kraut, a professor of social psychology and human-computer interaction who was involved in the study: “Will the Internet expand people’s parochialism by leading them to a wider range of people with the same interests, or will it encourage them to expand their interests to new areas? There are hints of both, but the jury’s still out, according to Kraut. ‘It makes it more efficient to be parochial, but at the same time it gets you to come across people and interests that you wouldn’t have simply by being in your small location with your previous identity,’ he says. ‘We’re seeing both things happening, and we don’t know which is going to be dominant'”
– In a 1994 article for Time Magazine, Philip Elmer-Dewitt writes about conflicting views about the development and uses of the Internet: “Now, just when it seems almost ready for prime time, the Net is being buffeted by forces that threaten to destroy the very qualities that fueled its growth. It’s being pulled from all sides: by commercial interests eager to make money on it, by veteran users who want to protect it, by pornographers who want to exploit its freedoms, by parents and teachers who want to make it a safe and useful place for kids … The danger, if this trend continues, is that people will withdraw within their walled communities and never again venture into the Internet’s public spaces. It’s a process similar to the one that created the suburbs and replaced the great cities with shopping malls and urban sprawl. The magic of the Net is that it thrusts people together in a strange, new world, one in which they get to rub virtual shoulders with characters they might otherwise never meet. The challenge for the citizens of cyberspace – as the battles to control the Internet are joined and waged – will be to carve out safe, pleasant places to work, play and raise their kids without losing touch with the freewheeling, untamable soul that attracted them to the Net in the first place.”
– In his 1995 book “Democracy and Technology,” Richard Sclove writes: “Contemporary technological reporting is rife with notions of electronic communities in which people interact across regions or entire continents. Could such ‘virtual communities’ eventually replace geographically localized social relations? There are reasons to suspect that, as the foundation for a democratic society, virtual communities will remain seriously deficient. If the prospect of a telecommunity replacing spatially localized community ought to evoke skepticism or opposition, one can nevertheless remain open to the possibility of democratically managing the evolution of telecommunications systems in ways that instead supplement more traditional forms of democratic community. Caution is in order. However, the benefits of telecommunities can potentially include combatting local parochialism; helping to establish individual memberships in a diverse range of communities, associations, and social movements; empowering isolated or marginalized groups; and facilitating transcommunity and intersocietal understanding, coordination, and accountability. Systems designed to support such uses – especially without subverting local community – are unlikely to emerge without concerted democratic struggle.”
– Kimberly Rose made the following statement in a research presentation at INET ’95, the Internet Society’s 1995 International Networking Conference. She was a researcher with Apple Computer’s Advanced Technology Group. She also worked with a consortium of schools in Southern California to develop collaborative dynamic curricula utilizing a wide-area telecommunications network. Rose remarks: “The potential the Web offers to build virtual communities is tremendous. Large and complex problems which concern us are now not only up to individuals to solve. By means of global networking on the Internet special interest groups and clubs are being formed. These groups can break down large issues into smaller ones and collaborate to solve problems.”
– Christopher Scheer wrote the following in an essay for The Nation: “Take the future world of right-wing visionary George Gilder – please. Listening to Gilder, one might get the impression that the only thing keeping us from being happy is all these other people: If we could only live ‘virtually,’ we’d be safe from all the bad stuff out there and stimulated by all the good. His future is sort of an intellectual’s version of the survivalist dream: Leave the now-irrelevant cities, hole up in your crime-free Utah faux ranch with your wall-size interactive TV and call up the world of high culture in Sensurround sound … I’m the goddamn wannabe Luddite who wonders what America will look like if every rich person has a sprawling compound in some gloriously beautiful – and ecologically fragile – state like Utah while cities are abandoned to the poor. And yet, I’m actually living the ‘electronic cottage’ dream of the Gilders, Gingriches and Tofflers. I’m turning on, logging in and crashing out here in my own little nest. I’m a ‘prosumer’ in the infoweb, absorbing great gobs of data and disgorging a little of my own every day … I’m human, a social animal. I’m not a god, I’m a hairless chimp with a messianic complex and a mouse. I need human contact and simple pleasures. I need to eat, poop and see people smile. I need some sun, some rain and the pleasures of someday holding the tiny paw of my own child. But instead of returning to the basics, I, like many of us, am spending more and more of my time with my face bathed in monitorglow, getting my fix of digital junk. Won’t someone please unwire me before it’s too late?”
Prediction on embedded networks
As computing devices become embedded in everything from clothes to appliances to cars to phones, these networked devices will allow greater surveillance by governments and businesses. By 2014, there will be increasing numbers of arrests based on this kind of surveillance by democratic governments as well as by authoritarian regimes.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary skews in agreement with the prediction on the rise in tracking by governments and business, and many activists were deeply concerned. In the database, the keyword “surveillance” conjures up dozens of hits. Among them are:
– In a 1995 article for Wired magazine, John Whalen does a bit of surveillance at the American Society for Industrial Security’s annual convention, and quotes Roy Want, an inventor of ‘active badges’ and a scientist at Xerox PARC. Whalen writes: “Roy Want hails from England, the former empire that gave the world Jeremy Bentham, philosopher of utilitarianism and author of Panopticon, or ‘The Inspection House.’ Published in 1791, Bentham’s treatise described a polygonal prison workhouse that placed the penal/industrial overseers in a central tower with glass-walled cells radiating outward. Mirrors placed around the central tower allowed the guards to peer into each cell while remaining invisible to the prisoners … More than 200 years later, Want, a computer engineer, has essentially reinvented the Panopticon. More accurately, his brainchild, known as the ‘Active Badge,’ would have made Bentham proud … Clipped to a shirt pocket or belt and powered by a lithium battery, the black box emits an infrared signal – just like a TV remote – every 15 seconds. Throughout the computer lab at the PARC, infrared detectors are velcro-mounted to the ceiling and networked into a Sun workstation … While privacy tribunes see active badges as an ominous new development in the brave new workplace, Want and his colleagues see them as ‘a double-edged sword,’ with the potential for both benign and malignant uses … Want sees the tabs getting thinner and lighter. Each of us would have dozens scattered around the office, in the car, and at home. Detector ‘cells will start appearing in public places or the home,’ he says. ‘The device will tell you where you are, wherever you are.’ Of course, it might also tell them where you are …. ‘There are always these trade-offs between what’s useful and what could be done to us,’ says Want from the belly of the kinder, gentler Panopticon. ‘The benefits to be had are so great; we just have to be sure that the people who are in control respect our privacy.'”
– In a 1994 article for Computer-Mediated Communication magazine, Stephen Doheny-Farina, a professor of technical communication at Clarkson University, writes: “Active badges should scare the daylights out of anyone. When it comes to connectivity, the employer must justify the surveillance. Everyone must assume that only extraordinary conditions merit surveillance. The requisite argument must not be, ‘Why do you not want to wear the badge?’ The requisite argument must be ‘Why do you want me to wear it?’ We must demand that the burden of proof is on the watcher, not the watched.”
– In his 1994 book “City of Bits,” MIT computer scientist William J. Mitchell writes: “Life in cyberspace generates electronic trails as inevitably as soft ground retains footprints; that, in itself, is not the worrisome thing. But where will digital information about your contacts and activities reside? Who will have access to it and under what circumstances? Will information of different kinds be kept separately, or will there be ways to assemble it electronically to create close and detailed pictures of your life? These are the questions that we will face with increasing urgency as we shift more and more of our daily activities into the digital, electronic sphere. Contention about the limits of privacy and surveillance is not new, but the terms and stakes of the central questions are rapidly being redefined. Isolated hermits can keep to themselves and don’t have to keep up appearances, but city dwellers have always had to accept that they will see and be seen. In return for the benefits of urban life, they tolerate some level of visibility and some possibility of surveillance – some erosion of their privacy. Architecture, laws, and customs maintain and represent whatever balance has been struck. As we construct and inhabit cyberspace communities, we will have to make and maintain similar bargains – though they will be embodied in software structures and electronic access controls rather than in architectural arrangements. And we had better get them right; since electronic data collection and digital collation techniques are so much more powerful than any that could be deployed in the past, they provide the means to create the ultimate Foucaultian dystopia.”
– In his 1992 book “Privacy for Sale,” Jeffrey Rothfeder writes: “In time, high-tech snooping and databanking could make earlier-generation activities seem naively old-fashioned, as innocent as child’s play. When that occurs, our failure to legislate controls over surveillance equipment as they evolved – already a problem today – could overwhelm us, as could our failure to prescribe adequate civil and criminal penalties for abuses of individual privacy committed by government agencies and U.S. corporations.”
– Jim Warren made the following statement in reaction to the fast-track passage of H.R. 4922 the “Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act” (called by some the “digital telephony bill” and labeled by its opponents as the “FBI’s wire-tap bill”) which provided rules for the “interception of digital and other communications,” in 1994. The law directed that all telecommunications companies make their networks tappable withing in the next four years. The intent of the legislation, passed by the Senate and signed by President Clinton, was to aid law enforcement, but it included the phrase “and other lawful authorization,” raising privacy questions. “How many tens of thousands of … [officials] will have authorized access to this pervasive surveillance power? How many thousands of political appointees control those agencies – and are controlled by incumbent politicians? How many hick sheriffs or local party bosses or nosy night staff are likely to make unauthorized use of this Congressionally mandated snoop-n-peep technology against boy – and girlfriends, family members, personal enemies, business competitors, and – most dangerously – political opponents?”
Prediction on formal education
Enabled by information technologies, the pace of learning in the next decade will increasingly be set by student choices. In ten years, most students will spend at least part of their “school days” in virtual classes, grouped online with others who share their interests, mastery, and skills.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary was enthusiastic about positive changes, as people projected the internet to be a tremendous step forward in education. But they also warned that the new tool had to be seen in a different light, rather than just being swallowed up by the old system. Nearly 200 of the predictions in the database fall under the education/schools category. Here are a few:
– In a 1993 Wired magazine interview with Connie Guglielmo about his election to the Colorado State Board of Education, Ed Lyell discusses his vision of the future of computers and education. Guglielmo writes: “In Ed Lyell’s hopeful vision of the near future, by age 18 everyone in this country is literate, semi-skilled and as comfortable using computers and telecommunications technology as they are using pencils. The main thing clouding that vision is the current educational system. ‘Children are born learning machines,’ says the Denver resident. ‘… But if you had a school out there today to teach children to walk, one-third of the population would not be walking … It would be easier to get the Pope to become a Buddhist than to get the schools to change.’ Lyell has plans for an educational system where students are treated as individuals with differing interests and learning skills. He hopes to build interactive learning devices that students can peruse at their own pace and that present information in a variety of ways. These computer-based learning systems are part of a concept he calls ‘Just-in-Time Learning.’ ‘It’s analogous to just-in-time manufacturing, which holds that efficiency comes when things happen just at the right time, when you have all the proper resources in place,’ says Lyell. ‘In the case of education, it means a student is able to log onto a computer to learn about whatever he or she is interested in learning about at that particular point in time.’ … ‘I think we should have learning centers, neighborhood electronic cottages,’ Lyell says.
– Kimberly Rose made the following statement in a research presentation at INET ’95, the Internet Society’s 1995 International Networking Conference. Rose worked with a consortium of schools in Southern California to develop collaborative dynamic curricula using a wide-area telecommunications network: “We must be careful not to look to this technology with hopes that it will be the next band aid for education. Installing computers, software, networking hardware, telephone lines and cabling in our schools will not change the way our children think unless we use these tools in new ways which take advantage of the possibilities the new tools have to offer. It is more likely that these new technologies will be used in ways which just mimic the old media and therefore not gain us any new insights into creating better learning environments.”
– In a 1993 article he wrote for Wired magazine, Seymour Papert remarks: “In the past, education adapted the mind to a very restricted set of available media; in the future, it will adapt media to serve the needs and tastes of each individual mind ? Demoting reading from its privileged position in the school curriculum is only one of many consequences of Knowledge Machines … What follows from imagining a Knowledge Machine is a certainty that school will either change very radically or simply collapse. It is predictable that the education establishment cannot see farther than using new technologies to do what it has always done in the past, teach the same curriculum … The possibility of freely exploring worlds of knowledge calls into question the very idea of an administered curriculum.”
– In a 1991 article for The Whole Earth Review, a quarterly magazine of access to tools and ideas, Roger Karraker discusses the Internet, quoting George Gilder. Karraker writes: “What would a real Network Nation be like? Conservative theorist/author George Gilder … foresees a renaissance in education … ‘The telecomputer could revitalize public education by bringing the best teachers in the country to classrooms everywhere,’ Gilder says. ‘More important, the telecomputer could encourage competition because it could make home schooling both feasible and attractive. To learn social skills, neighborhood children could gather in micro-schools run by parents, churches or other local institutions. The competition of home schooling would either destroy the public school system or force it to become competitive with rival systems.'”
– Craig Lyndes was a teacher from Champlain Valley Union High School in Vermont who was a representative of his school in its membership in the National School Network Testbed (NSNT), funded by the National Science Foundation to encourage the effective promulgation of the Internet in education. This statement was quoted in a research presentation made by Beverly Hunter, a NSNT official, at INET ’95, the Internet Society’s 1995 International Networking Conference. Lyndes reports: “Eventually we want to allow the students to access all of the school’s resources from home. This is part of our long-range goal to blow the walls off the school, bring the world into the school, and put the school out in the world.”
– In a 1993 article for The Christian Science Monitor, Romolo Gondolfo interviews Perelman, senior researcher at the Discovery Institute in Washington, D.C. Gondolofo quotes Perelman saying: “All bureaucracies, as we know, are rooted in the idea of controlling people’s access to knowledge by concentrating it at the top and distributing it very parimoniously to those at lower levels. But this is precisely what is becoming more and more difficult to do in this new Age of Knowledge which we are right now entering … A fundamental implication of this revolution is that the creation and transmission of knowledge will no longer move vertically, from the top down. It will move horizontally, among many people, at a tremendous speed. This will undermine the foundation of every bureaucracy, including schools ? I propose to abolish all public grants for schools and colleges and instead give the money directly to families in the form of ‘micro-vouchers’ to be spent on anything that nurtures the spirit and teaches new skills.”
– In his 1995 book “Silicon Snake Oil,” writer Clifford Stoll shares his take on the Internet’s future implications for education: “All of us want children to experience warmth, human interaction, the thrill of discovery, and solid grounding in essentials: reading, getting along with others, training in civic values. Only a teacher, live in the classroom, can bring about this inspiration. This can’t happen over a speaker, a television or a computer screen. Yet everywhere I hear parents and principals clamoring for interactive computer instruction. What is wrong with this picture? … At the same time that school librarians, art instructors, and music teachers are being fired, we’re spending thousands on computers. What’s wrong with this picture? … ‘I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.’ – Thomas Edison, 1922. In the past, schools tried instructional filmstrips, movies and television; some are still in use, but think of your own experience: Name three multimedia programs that actually inspired you. Now name three teachers that made a difference in your life.”
Prediction on democratic processes
By 2014, network security concerns will be solved and more than half of American votes will be cast online, resulting in increased voter turnout.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the general drift of the commentary splits in regard to this prediction when considering the concept of network security. Many people of the 1990s said security is not possible; some believed that a secure system would eventually be built; some said that a foolproof, secure system would ensure so much privacy that it would put the world?s societies at the mercy of criminals and terrorists, shielding them from law enforcement; and some said that perfect encryption would make it impossible for governments to collect taxes. Here is a sample:
– In an interview for InfoWorld in 1994, Jayne Levin, editor of The Internet Letter, asks Daniel C. Lynch, “How can companies best protect their networks from intruders?” Lynch replies: “Ah, yes. Security. Networking. Let’s see: secrecy and sharing. All together. Seems kinda contradictory. Network security will remain the hardest nut to crack (bad pun) for many years to come. Why? Because security itself is a perpetual problem. As long as we have humans around, anyway. The Internet was created without much security included. We relied on the security of the individual operating systems residing on the hosts that were connected to the Internet. Then along came PCs and Macs. No concept of security was built into them? Many vendors and researchers are working on ways to extend the firewall concept to full-function Internetworking. They will not be done tomorrow.”
– In their 1994 book “Firewalls and Internet Security,” Steven Bellovin and William Cheswick write: “It might seem that we are unduly pessimistic about the state of computer security. This is half-true: we are pessimistic, but not, we think, unduly so. Nothing in the recent history of either network security or software engineering gives us any reason to believe otherwise. Nor are we alone in feeling this way.”
– In a 1994 article about digital democracy for Wired magazine, Evan I. Schwartz writes: “The very thought of living in an electronic democracy raises fundamental issues … Won’t it be harder than ever for Congress and the President to stand up for what’s right, rather than what’s popular? Can voter privacy be maintained, or will marketers get hold of everyone’s voting records? Will everyone have access to the latest technology? Will the people really be getting their say, or will the whole process by controlled by moguls like Malone? And perhaps most important, what would happen if votes somehow became binding, rather than just advisory?”
– In a 1995 essay for Newsweek magazine, Jonathan Alter quotes Neil Postman. Alter writes: “Although the technology already exists for a full-scale teledemocracy, no one has yet figured out a way to guarantee the integrity of the balloting. In fact, even computerized voting at polling places remains surprisingly suspect. ‘The opportunities for rigging elections [are] child’s play for vendors and knowledgeable election officials,’ writes Peter G. Neumann in ‘Computer-Related Risks.’ (Neumann runs the Internet newsgroup The Risks Forum.) Short-term technical problems – like the disastous pileup last November in Canada when the Liberal Party tried a teleconvention with delegates voting from home by phone – can be fixed. But the larger problem of essentially turning over vote-counting to unaccountable computer experts will be unresolved for years. At least when Boss Tweed stole votes, everyone knew it. Computer vote fraud can be extraodinarily difficult to trace.”
– In his 1994 book “City of Bits,” MIT computer scientist William J. Mitchell writes: “As telecommunications networks have developed, there has been growing flirtation with the idea of replacing old-fashioned voting booths and ballot boxes with electronic polling. In a cyberspace election, you might find the policies of candidates posted online, you might use your personal computer to go to a virtual polling place to cast your vote, and the votes might be tallied automatically in real time … There are, of course, potential problems with electronic stuffing of ballot boxes, but these can be handled through password control of access to the virtual ballot box or (better) through use of encryption technology to verify a voter’s identity … Electronic feedback can even be swift enough, potentially, to support real-time (or at least very fast) direct democracy on a large scale. Populist demagogues like Ross Perot have proffered visions of sitting in front of your two-way television, watching debates, and bypassing the politicians by immediately, electronically recording your response. The network presents the packaged alternatives. Vote with your remote! ”
– In his 1995 book “Silicon Snake Oil,” writer Clifford Stoll shares his take on the Internet’s future implications: “The myth holds that our networks are the ultimate in democracy – all voices can be heard. Bytes have no race, gender, age, or religion. What effects will we see when the government comes online? Computer access will let us send messages to government officials, and get quick responses from them. We’ll know what’s happening in the back rooms of our legislatures. We could read committees’ reports the same day they’re written and get fast responses to our queries. The myth grows: Elections will change, too. Politicians will be available through electronic forums, with less emphasis on expensive television ads. They’ll upload position papers to the net, and reply to e-mail from their constituents. Eventually, we’ll see electronic voting – a way to further democratic participation, with polls giving near-instant feedback for representatives. The reality? Anyone can post messages to the Net. Practically everyone does. The resulting cacaphony drowns out serious discussion. Online debates of tough issues are often polarized by messages taking extreme positions. It’s a great medium for trivia and hobbies, but not the place for reasoned, reflective judgment.”
– In an interview that aired on PBS-TV in 1995, Internet pioneer Stewart Brand said: “If total public cryptography and lots of financial transactions come to the Net, will you pay taxes in the future? You won’t. This is one terrifying fantasy from the government standpoint. It may not be a fantasy, because if lots of transactions go onto the Net and they’re completely encrypted in a way that they can’t be tracked, a whole lot of financial activity basically goes black, goes underground. And then you can’t tax transactions, you can’t track transactions. All you’ve got left to tax basically is possessions at that point and so you may see … property taxes going up and sales taxes disappearing.”
Prediction on families
By 2014, as telework and home-schooling expand, the boundaries between work and leisure will diminish significantly. This will sharply alter everyday family dynamics.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the general drift of the commentary skewed in agreement with the prediction. While rosy statements were made at the time about the abundant choices to be made by families in a world of telecommuting and home schooling, there were also notes of caution sounded about the impact of networked life in the home. Here are a few:
– In a 1995 article for The Guardian in London, Christopher Reed quotes Wired magazine editor/publisher Louis Rossetto. Reed writes: “What Wired is doing, in the words of co-founder and editor/publisher Louis Rossetto, is launching the ‘digital revolution,’ the ‘creation and implementation of new electronic technology, what it means to our lives, and how it will change everything: business, politics, culture, education, art and personal relationships.’ The computers and the international networks, Rossetto believes, are media with such powerful messages that in a generation, the world will be a different place. Digitally doomed are mammoth corporations, political parties, the conventional school, the commute to the workplace, orthodox finances including national budgets, and popular entertainment ? Even the family will change. ‘What happens when families come back together because work is done at home?’ asks Rossetto. ‘What neuroses will that expose?'”
– In this 1995 online essay, Justin Hall makes the statement: “For the jobs of tomorrow, in the service sector, the home is the workplace. They already have a catchphrase for it – telecommuting … You can be near your kids, your pets, your garden, in the comfort of your own home, work on your computer and video teleconference to your meetings. Each office I have worked in has sucked up hours of my day. Dealing with other people’s crises, lounging by the coffee machine, pointless meetings, getting from one place to the other. Home working, the time you waste is your own, around your family and friends. Set your own schedule, in your own environment, no commuting. If we abandon the concept of the inner-city office workplace, we can begin to unpave this country … people will be rooted in their local communities while maintaining global presence. Home cooking and home improvement; the family structure will be bolstered by the presence of parents, in communities of energized folk.”
– In his 1995 book “Silicon Snake Oil,” writer Clifford Stoll shares his take on the Internet’s future implications: “Networks hold out the promise of telecommuting. One day, many of us will be able to work at home, any hour of the day or night. We’ll save gas, have closer family ties, and have a happier workplace. Oh? I doubt our offices will be replaced by minions working from home. The lack of meetings and personal interaction isolates workers and reduces loyalty. Nor is a house necessarily an efficient place to work, what with the constant interruptions and lack of office fixtures. Perhaps it’ll work for jobs where one never has to meet anyone else, like data entry or telephone sales. What a way to turn a home into a prison.”
– The 1995 book “The Information Revolution,” edited by Donald Altschiller, carries a reprint of the Fall 1994, New Perspectives Quarterly article “Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age,” by social critics Esther Dyson, George Gilder, Jay Keyworth and Alvin Toffler. They write: “No one knows what the Third Wave communities of the future will look like, or where demassification will ultimately lead. It is clear, however, that cyberspace will play an important role in knitting together the diverse communities of tomorrow, facilitating the creation of electronic neighborhoods bound together not by geography but by shared interests. Socially, putting advanced computing in the hands of entire populations will alleviate pressure on highways, reduce air pollution, allow people to live further away from crowded or dangerous urban areas, and expand family time.”
Prediction on the rise of extreme communities
Groups of zealots in politics, in religion, and in groups advocating violence will solidify, and their numbers will increase by 2014 as tight personal networks flourish online.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary skews in agreement with the prediction. Of course, if the internet can build up positive social networks, there is no reason to assume it could do anything but the identical thing for negative social networks. Here are a few selections:
– In a 1993 article for Wired magazine, futurist Peter Schwartz, a co-founder of the Global Business Network, discusses the high-tech future that will develop out of a knowledge-based world with futurist Alvin Toffler, the co-author (with his wife Heidi Toffler) of “Future Shock,” “The Third Wave” and “War and Anti-War.” Schwartz quotes Toffler saying: “The world system is splitting into three parts – three different layers or tiers – or more accurately three different civilizations. Of course, you’ll continue to have agrarian countries and you’ll continue to have the mass-manufacturing cheap-labor suppliers, at least for a transitional period. But we are … rapidly developing a chain of info-intensive countries whose economics depend not on the hoe or the assembly-line but on brainpower … The emerging third-wave civilization is going to collide head-on with the old first and second civilizations. One of the things we ought to learn from history is that when waves of change collide they create countercurrents. When the first and the second wave collided we had civil wars, upheavals, political revolutions, forced migrations. The master conflict of the 21st century will not be between cultures but between the three supercivilizations – between agrarianism and industrialism and post-industrialism.”
– In a 1995 article in Government Technology, Blake Harris writes: “The dark side of cyberspace harbors hackers pirating software and exchanging hacking techniques, drug smugglers using e-mail, political extremists advocating racism, hate and violence, predators seeking to seduce children, pornographers with modems, and maybe even terrorist networks plotting atrocities – in fact, almost every form of evil that already exists in our society. It is a little terrifying, at times, to think that virtually anyone, armed simply with a computer, modem and telephone line, can, at least in theory, reach a worldwide audience with whatever communication he or she wishes. This fact, coupled with the anarchic freedom of the Internet, has brought to a head a number of fundamental issues that may have significant ramifications on how the Information Age unfolds: surveillance and public safety vs. privacy through encryption and anonymity, censorship vs. free expression, more control vs. a decentralized anarchy of information.”
-In his 1994 book “City of Bits,” MIT computer scientist William J. Mitchell writes: “Network pimps will offer ways to do something sordid (but safe) with lubriciously programmed telehookers. (This is an obvious extrapolation of the telephone’s transformation of the whorehouse into the call-girl operation.) Telemolesters will lurk. Telethugs will reach out and punch someone.”
– In a 1995 article for Computerworld, Gary Anthes writes about the statements made by attendees at a recent conference on information warfare, quoting Stephen Kent of Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. Anthes writes: “Problems and threats: ‘It’s clear that we have lots of vulnerable systems that the country depends on. Terrorist organizations are especially worrisome. They are eager for the kind of notoriety that would attend their knocking out the telephone system or air traffic control system.’ – Stephen Kent, chief scientist for security technology at Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., Cambridge, Mass.”
-The 1994 book “The Information Revolution,” edited by Donald Altschiller, carries a reprint of the Jan. 23, 1995, U.S. News & World Report article “Policing Cyberspace” by Vince Sussman. Sussman explores First Amendment rights in cyberspace. The article includes an interview with FBI Special Agent William Tafoya. Sussman quotes Tafoya, writing: “Crime involving high technology is going to be off the boards,’ predicts FBI Special Agent William Tafoya, the man who created the bureau’s home page on the Internet, the worldwide computer network. ‘It won’t be long before the bad guys outstrip our ability to keep up with them. ‘”
– In his 1994 book “Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World,” Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired magazine, quotes Tim May in a discussion of the future impact of encryption and anonymous remailers: “I confess my misgivings about the potential market for anonymity to Tim: ‘Seems like the perfect thing for ransom notes, extortion threats, bribes, blackmail, insider trading and terrorism.’ ‘Well,’ Tim answers. ‘what about selling information that isn’t viewed as legal, say about pot growing, do-it-yourself abortion, cryonics, or even peddling alternative medical information without a license? What about the anonymity wanted for whistleblowers, confessionals and dating personals?”
– The 1995 book “The Information Revolution,” edited by Donald Altschiller, carries a reprint of the Jan. 23, 1995, U.S. News & World Report article “Policing Cyberspace” by Vince Sussman. Sussman explores First Amendment rights in cyberspace. In the article, he interviews Carlton Fitzpatrick, branch chief of FLETC’s Financial Fraud Institute. Sussman writes: “‘Cyberspace is like a neighborhood without a police department,’ says FLETC’s [Carlton] Fitzpatrick. One of the most pressing dangers, says Fitzpatrick, is that people bound by hate and racism are no longer separated by time and distance. They can share their frustrations at nightly computerized meetings. ‘What some people call hate crimes are going to increase, and the networks are going to feed them,’ predicts Fitzpatrick, [branch chief of FLETC’s Financial Fraud Institute]. ‘I believe in the First Amendment. But sometimes it can be a noose society hangs itself with.”
– In a 1995 article in New Scientist, Kurt Kleiner reports on what Mike Godwin and David Banisar are saying about fears that the government may try to control or acquire the ability to tap into secure communications on the Internet. Kleiner writes: “Users of the Internet are afraid that there will be some sort of clampdown on them because of the wave of paranoia that has swept the country after the Oklahoma City bombing. Newspapers and TV shows have carried stories about the sort of information that is available over the Internet. For instance, they point out that ‘The Terrorist’s Handbook’ is easy to find, complete with detailed information on how to mix and detonate more than a dozen kinds of explosives, including the one used in the Oklahoma City bombing. It also became clear after the bombing that members of militia groups, such as the one the bomber belonged to, communicate via the Internet. Godwin points out that so far no one in a government position has called for censorship of the Internet. And David Banisar, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, thinks such censorship is unlikely. ‘What can they do? Say no political organizing over the Internet? That’s clearly unconstitutional.'”
– In May 1995, Wired magazine ran an article that was excerpted from a transcript of a speech Bruce Sterling delivered at the High Technology Crime Investigation Association conference in November 1994. Sterling says: “Countries that have offshore money laundries are gonna have offshore data laundries. Countries that now have lousy oppressive governments and smart, determined terrorist revolutionaries are gonna have lousy oppressive governments and smart determined terrorist revolutionaries with computers. Not too long after that, they’re going to have tyrannical revolutionary governments run by zealots with computers; then we’re likely to see just how close to Big Brother a government can really get. Dealing with these people is going to be a big problem for us.”
Prediction on politics
By 2014, most people will use the internet in a way that filters out information that challenges their viewpoints on political and social issues. This will further polarize political discourse and make it difficult or impossible to develop meaningful consensus on public problems.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), some commentary is in agreement with this prediction. There were also some people who projected that the internet could bring about a new pluralism. Here are some examples from both sides:
– For a 1995 article for Wired magazine, Jay Kinney, publisher and editor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions, writes: “One gets the sense that, given half a chance, the electorate would love to ditch the old left/right horseshoe match and take on some new paradigms altogether … Some techno-optimists, entranced with the rapid expansion of cyberspace, are convinced that the rough contours of the future can be spotted in the shadowy forms dancing across their computer screens. The pounding drums of cypherpunks, Usenet orators, civil-liberties activists, and venture capitalists, all undulating together in the flickering RGB glow, seem to whisper alluring promises of power, privacy, and pluralism in the politics to come ? When all is said and done, is there a new politics emerging in the Net/cyberspace/digital culture? Short answer: Yes, if by ‘new politics’ one means an increased visibility for certain strains of ideology, like libertarianism, that have not generally made it through the mass media’s bozo-filters. Libertarianism – with its zealous advocacy of laissez-faire capitalism, deregulation, and privatization – is a ready-made ‘killer app’ for high-tech start-ups, would-be millionaires, and the rest of the ‘don’t tread on me’ cybercrew. Mix this in with the current impatience toward half-failed liberal solutions and mammoth government and we may see some unusually radical proposals enacted in Washington.”
– A paper titled “Computer-Mediated Communication and the American Collectivity: The Dimensions of Community Within Cyberspace,” by Jan Fernback and Brad Thompson, was presented at the annual convention of the International Communication Association, Albuquerque, N.M., May 1995. It was reprinted in full form on Howard Rheingold’s Web site. This is an excerpt: “CMC [Computer-Mediated Communication] does not, at this point, hold the promise of enhancing democracy because it promotes communities of interest that are just as narrowly defined as current public factions defined by identity (whether it be racial, sexual, or religious). Public discourse ends when identities become the last, unyielding basis for argumentation that strives ideally to achieve consensus based on a common good.”
-In a 1994 article for Wilson Quarterly, Edward Tenner writes: “Yes, networks can help people strengthen neighborhoods and communities. But they also encourage people to find ways out. Unhappy with your schools? Join the parents who have turned to home schooling. Teaching materials and mutual support are already available online, and home educators have been using electronic mail effectively to organize and lobby for their rights. Their children may learn all they need to, but the economist Albert O. Hirschman has pointed out that when the most quality-conscious users are free to leave a troubled system, whether railroads or schools, the system suffers further by losing its most vocal critics. Any future information network will help unhappy people secede, at least mentally, from institutions they do not like, much as the interstate highway system allowed the affluent to flee the cities for the suburbs and exurbs. Prescribing mobility, whether automotive or electronic, as an antidote to society’s fragmentation is like recommending champagne as a hangover remedy.”
– In a 1995 article in Le Monde Diplomatique, Paul Virilio, the emblematic French theorist of technology and author of “Pure War, Speed and Politics,” and “War and Cinema: the Logistics of Perception,” writes: “The dictatorship of speed at the limit will increasingly clash with representative democracy. When some essayists address us in terms of ‘cyber-democracy,’ of virtual democracy; when others state that ‘opinion democracy’ is going to replace ‘political parties democracy,’ one cannot fail to see anything but this loss of orientation in matters political, of which the March 1994 ‘media-coup’ by Mr. Silvio Berlusconi was an Italian-style prefiguration. The advent of the age of viewer-counts and opinion polls reigning supreme will necessarily be advanced by this type of technology.”
– In a 1995 article for Governing, Christopher Conte quotes Andrew Blau of the Benton Foundation. Conte writes: “The ease and sheer speed of new communications technologies give the information superhighway its appeal. But those same qualities provoke fears among people who see it as a threat to representative democracy. ‘Real democracy is slow and deliberative,’ notes Andrew Blau, director of the communications policy project for the Benton Foundation, a Washington, D.C., group that promotes the use of the information superhighway. ‘It’s so easy to imagine a scenario in which technology is used to get instant judgments from people. If it is used that way, we haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to high-tech lynchings.'”
– In his 1995 book “The Electronic Republic: Reshaping Democracy in the Information Age,” Lawrence Grossman, former president of NBC News and PBS, writes: “‘Boiler room’ organizations, hired by special interests, will seek to manufacture and mobilize ‘grassroots’ opinion and stimulate the outpouring of selected messages and votes – to make sure that particular viewpoints are heard. They do that now. In the next century, it will become a mainstream business. Computerized political advertising, promotion, and marketing campaigns, targeted with as much intensity as legislators, regulators, and public officials are lobbied today, because public opinion – the fourth branch of government – will play an even more pivotal role in major government decisions.”
– In the July 1994 issue of The Network Observer online newsletter, Barbara Welling Hall writes about networking, democracy and computers: “Inequitable access to these technologies at present and in the foreseeable future profoundly diminishes the diversity of opinions that are vetted electronically. Electronic communities may provide genuine benefits to isolated individuals, but if these communities are to be presented as providing global rather than partial access to political discourse, this promise may be squandered. Finally, although freedom of information may hamper some dangerous actions, more information alone is not a substitute for the development of critical or compassionate faculties. Data may reveal the existence of injustice, but data alone rarely generate the political will either to make difficult trade-offs or to discover creative solutions to perennial problems.”
Prediction on health system change
In 10 years, the increasing use of online medical resources will yield substantial improvement in many of the pervasive problems now facing healthcare-including rising healthcare costs, poor customer service, the high prevalence of medical mistakes, malpractice concerns, and lack of access to medical care for many Americans.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the general drift of the commentary skews in agreement with the prediction. The internet was seen as a way to streamline the connection between consumers and health-care providers, and the availability of health-education data was seen as a key to improving millions of lives in Third World nations. Here are some examples:
– In a 1994 article for Wired magazine, Joe Flower explains the types of changes that could come in health care through the use of networked computing. Flower writes: “The coming American health care system has everything to do with smart cards and dumb terminals, big bandwidth and microprobes, genetic markers and info-markets. And it doesn’t look like anything you’ve read in the paper … Over the next decade, we will see health care become less doctor-centered, and more community- and family-centered. Medicine itself will become less of an art and more fact-based. Yet at the same time it will come to feel more humane ? Eventually all health records, from insurance information to X-rays and MRI scans will go digital – and eventually you will carry all that information with you on a card ? The very discoveries and inventions that will continue to transform medical practice will push it to be less about hardware, less about vast and powerful machines watched over by highly trained acolytes, and more about shared information ? They carry the possibility of providing major assistance in revolutionizing health care, making it both cheaper and better, spreading it wider, involving people in making decisions about their own lives, helping America (and eventually the world) build truly healthier communities.”
– The 1995 book “The Information Revolution,” edited by Donald Altschiller, carries a reprint of the 1993 report of the Information Infrastructure Task Force. In “The National Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Action,” members of the commission report: “Experts estimate that telecommunications applications could reduce health care costs by $36 to $100 billion each year while improving quality and increasing access. Below are some of the existing and potential applications. – Telemedicine: By using telemedicine, doctors and other care givers can consult with specialists thousands of miles away; continually upgrade their education and skills; and share medical records and x-rays … – Unified Electronic Claims: More than 4 billion health care claims are submitted annually from health care providers to reimbursement organizations such as insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, and HMOs – The administrative costs of the U.S. health care systems could be dramatically reduced by moving towards standardized electronic submission and processing of claims. – Personal Health Information Systems: The United States can use computers and networks to promote self-care and prevention by making health care information available 24 hours a day in a form that aids decision making. – Michael McDonald, chairman of the Communications and computer Applications in Public Health (CCAPH) estimates that even if personal health information systems were used only 25 to 35 percent of the time, $40 to $60 billion could be saved. – Computer-Based Patient Records: Computer-Based Patient Records are critical to improving the quality and reducing the cost of health care.”
– A research group representing The Global Health Network, an international group with the hope of using the Internet to establish a better world of medicine and prevention, made the following statement in a research presentation at INET ’95, the Internet Society’s 1995 International Networking Conference. The group reports: “We should be able to monitor and forecast diseases as well as we monitor the weather if we take on new technologies. Having an Internet backbone to national and global-disease monitoring can yield accurate and timely information concerning disease conditions ? At the time of a disaster one of the – if not the most critical – needs is that of communication.”
Prediction on personal media environment
By 2014, all media, including audio, video, print, and voice, will stream in and out of the home or office via the internet. Computers that coordinate and control video games, audio, and video will become the centerpiece of the living room and will link to networked devices around the household, replacing the television’s central place in the home.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the general drift of the commentary skews in agreement with this prediction. At the time, whether they called it a television, a computer or a teleputer, most experts were saying that our homes would be tied to a network of information flowing inward and outward. Here are some examples:
– In a 1994 article for Wilson Quarterly, Douglas Gomery writes: “The basic device serving consumers at home will almost certainly be some sort of hybrid telecomputer that marries a computer processor and a television screen. It will display wide-screen images, easily accommodating all of Hollywood’s CinemaScope-like images without lopping off the sides … Telecomputers of the sort described here will cost thousands of dollars each. When they finally become widely available, for example, digital high-definition television (HDTV) sets are likely to cost in the neighborhood of $5,000. To wire the nation with fiber-optic cable, add at least $1,000 per household, or a cool $100 billion for the whole country. That is not to mention the cost of wiring businesses, government of and nonprofit institutions. Sums of this size serve as reminders that, much as we like to think of the infohighway as the centerpiece of a ‘postindustrial’ era, building it will be a very old-fashioned capital-intensive undertaking. It will take a long time, and it will be very expensive.”
– In a 1995 article for Time, reporter Barrett Seaman writes about future technologies. He quotes Mark Weiser. He writes: “At Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center in California, where the PC, on-screen icons and the laser printer originated, Mark Weiser, manager of the computer science laboratory, envisions a world in which flat-panel screens bearing a multitude of images will be household regulars. They will range from tiny ones, costing perhaps $5 each and plastered everywhere, to wall-size ones for viewing video. The smaller ones, says Weiser, are ‘where you’ll plan your grocery list or do your homework. They’ll be the equivalent of Post-it notes on the refrigerator or the crumpled-up notepaper in your pocket.’ In Weiser’s world, people will wake up to a tiny bedside screen that gives the time and the weather forecast and even displays news headlines or sports scores. Pocket-size screens would also serve as remote controls for larger screens in the bedroom or living room, where family members will use them variously to watch TV, read the newspaper (which will be customized for each member’s personal interests) or draw up the family grocery list.”
– In his 1995 book “The Road Ahead,” Microsoft CEO Bill Gates writes: “Your television set will not look like a computer and won’t have a keyboard, but the additional electronics inside or attached will make it architecturally a computer like a PC. Television sets will connect to the highway via a set-top box similar to ones supplied today by most cable TV companies. But these new set-top boxes will include a very powerful general-purpose computer. The box may be located inside a television, behind a television, on top of a television, on a basement wall, or even outside the house. Both the PC and the set-top box will connect to the information highway and conduct a ‘dialogue’ with the switches and servers of the network, retrieving information and programming and relaying the subscriber’s choices.”
– In a 1994 article he wrote for National Review, George Gilder, a fellow of the Discovery Institute in Seattle and author of “Life After Television,” expounds on his views of future communications. He writes: “Within the next 10 years, this explosive technological advance in both networks and processors virtually guarantees that the personal-computer model of distributed intelligence and control will unseat the emperors of the mass media and blow away the television model of centralization. The teleputer – a revolutionary PC of the next decade – will give every household hacker the productive potential of a factory czar of the industrial era and the communications power of a broadcast tycoon of the television age. Broadcasting hierarchies will give way to computer heterarchies – peer networks in which the terminals are essentially equal in power and there is no center at all.”
Prediction on creativity
Pervasive high-speed information networks will usher in an age of creativity in which people use the internet to collaborate with others and take advantage of digital libraries to make more music, art, and literature. A large body of independently-produced creative works will be freely circulated online and will command widespread attention from the public.
In the data in the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary followed in agreement with this prediction. At the time the digital libraries were mostly in the early planning stages, but the internet was born from the desire for human collaboration, so it was natural to assume that creative people would be able to mimic the successes found in collaborations on the internet by researchers in the network community. Here are some examples:
– In an excerpt from his 1994 book “Life After Television,” George Gilder addresses the future: “The new law of networks exalts the smallest coherent system: the individual human mind and spirit. A healthy culture reflects not the psychology of crowds but the creativity and inspiration of millions of individuals reaching for high goals. In place of the broadcast pyramid, a peer network will emerge in which all the terminals will be smart.”
– In a 1994 article for Wired magazine, Daniel Pinchbeck, a New York-based writer and the editor of Open City, a literary and art journal, writes: “Eventually, computers and the Internet may force artists out of the increasingly esoteric discourse of the art world. A broader audience may demand that they reintegrate their work with larger issues related to science, technology, and humanism. ‘I would like to see a return to that classical breadth of inquiry that artists were able to make in the Renaissance,’ says Michael Joaquin Grey. Computers may also force radical artists to return to a notion of craft. In the contemporary art world, painstaking studio process often seems to matter less than an up-to-the-minute ironic pose. Artists of the past had to grapple with techniques ranging from draftsmanship to fresco painting if they wanted to achieve greatness. Their creative inheritors may have to master digital tools if they hope to reach beyond the restrictive walls of galleries and museums.”
– In his 1995 book “The Road Ahead,” Microsoft CEO Bill Gates writes: “Over time we will start to create new forms and formats that will go significantly beyond what we know now. The exponential expansion of computing power will keep changing the rules and opening new possibilities that will seem as remote and farfetched then as some of the things I’ve speculated on here might seem today. Talent and creativity have always shaped advances in unpredictable ways … The information highway will open undreamed-of artistic and scientific opportunities to a new generation of geniuses.”
– In a 1991 article for The New York Times, John Markoff interviews Internet pioneer Robert Kahn as he explains the nation’s planned “national data highway.” Markoff writes: “This network of fiber-optic cables, which would completed replace existing copper lines, is viewed by many scientists and executives as both a vital research tool and an essential part of the country’s ‘information infrastructure’ for the next century … ‘[The Internet] will unleash a tremendous amount of creativity and innovation which will lead to capabilities we can’t even imagine today,’ said Robert Kahn, a scientist at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, a Reston, Va., research organization that is coordinating consortiums of corporations, research laboratories and universities developing extremely fast computer networks.”
– In a 1995 article for Wired magazine, media critic Jon Katz writes: “The explosion of energy coming from digital designers, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, and even advertisers is altering our basic notions of creativity. A new dream of the future is being born. Of course, in a half-century or so, these same digital revolutionaries will form the nostalgic material of somebody else’s ‘history.’ Imagine the writer of that book – or CD-ROM or digital bedside laptop tablet – longing for the time when clunky computers sprouted wires, modems hissed, and chips held finite memory. Think how much wonder our time might hold.”
Prediction about how people go online
By 2014, 90% of all Americans will go online from home via high-speed networks that are dramatically faster than today’s high-speed networks.
In the Predictions Database (1990-95), the commentary was firmly behind the development of high-speed networks, and the vision was that these would come sooner rather than later. Most of this came after the introduction of the World Wide Web, with its ability to display images; the prospect of being able to exchange large video files and stream live video programming drove the development of this network technology. Here are some statements on delivering large amounts of data at high speeds:
– In a 1993 paper in reaction to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s proposed goals, New York Law School Professor Michael Botein writes: “This area is fraught with perils … the U.S. government and industry should proceed with caution in entering the new digital age. High-capacity fiber systems probably will become a mainstay of all developed countries’ telecom infrastructure at some point in the next millennium. For the moment, however, it might be wise to slow the whole process down a bit. After all, the U.S. should know by now that being first into a new technology is not always a benefit; the … experience with NTSC television should be a nightly reminder to U.S. telecom policy planners of the value of letting others make the mistakes.”
– In a 1995 article for Computerworld, Gordon Bell looks ahead. Bell proposed a plan for a U.S. research and education network in a 1987 report to the Office of Science and Technology in response to a congressional request by Al Gore. He was a technology leader at Digital Equipment Corporation (where he led the development of the VAX computer) and with Microsoft: “Phone communications will evolve toward a single, pervasive digital dial tone for high-speed networks. These will offer bandwidth scalable to several hundred megabits per second for handling video over phone lines and virtual reality.”
– In his 1994 book “City of Bits,” MIT computer scientist William J. Mitchell writes: “The bondage of bandwidth is displacing the tyranny of distance, and a new economy of land use and transportation is emerging – an economy in which high-bandwidth connectivity is an increasingly crucial variable ? The most crucial task before us is not one of putting in place the digital plumbing of broadband communications links and associated electronic appliances (which we will certainly get anyway), nor even of producing electronically deliverable ‘content,’ but rather one of imagining and creating digitally mediated environments for the kinds of lives that we will want to lead and the sorts of communities that we will want to have.”
– In a 1995 article for Wired magazine, Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT’s Media Lab, writes: “In 2020, people will look back and be mighty annoyed by our profligate insistence on wiring a fiber-coax hybrid to the home rather than swallowing the cost of an all-fiber solution. They’ll ask, ‘Why didn’t our parents and grandparents plan more effectively for the future?’ As far as the American home is concerned, the phone companies have the right architecture (switched services), and the cable companies have the right bandwidth (broadband services). We need the union of these: switched broadband services. But how do we get from here to there? No one will deny that the long-term solution is to install fiber all the way, but the benefits seem diffuse and the costs acute. In the eyes of the telcos and cable companies, the question is financial – and since the near-term balance sheets don’t add up, fiber is not being laid all the way. One way around this problem is to circumvent the private market and let a telecommunications monopoly build the infrastructure, which is exactly what Telecom Italia is doing … Italy will have a far better multimedia telecommunications system than the United States by 2000.”