Elon University

Digital Life in 2025 – the 2014 survey

Researchers at Elon University and the Pew Internet Project canvassed technology innovators, entrepreneurs and analysts, digital professionals, and the highly engaged public, asking them to assess today’s trends and imagine what may evolve. They were offered a series of questions and encouraged to elaborate in written responses.

The links below lead to seven 2014 reports based on a survey fielded from late November 2013 through early January 2014.

A Report on the Future of Privacy, Control Over Personal Data

Report released Dec. 18, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: Will policy makers and technology innovators create a secure, popularly accepted, and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025 that allows for business innovation and monetization while also offering individuals choices for protecting their personal information in easy-to-use formats? Describe what you think the reality will be in 2025 when it comes to the overall public perception about whether policy makers and corporations have struck the right balance between personal privacy, secure data, and compelling content and apps that emerge from consumer tracking and analytics. 

A Report on the Potential for Major Cyber Attacks

Report released Oct. 29, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: By 2025, will a major cyber attack have caused widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people? (By “widespread harm” we mean significant loss of life or property losses/damage/theft at the levels of tens of billions of dollars.) Explain what vulnerabilities nations have to their sovereignty in the coming decade and whether major economic enterprises can or cannot thwart determined opponents. Or explain why you think the level of threat has been hyped and/or why you believe attacks can be successfully thwarted. 

A Report on Possible 2025 Advances: Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age

Report released October 9, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: New killer apps in the gigabit age: Will there be new, distinctive, and uniquely compelling technology applications that capitalize upon significant increases in bandwidth in the US between now and 2025? Please elaborate on your answer. Explain why you think there will be hardly any change or tell what new tools and applications will excite people in the next decade and envision the kinds of personal connectivity and immersive media experiences that will seize the public imagination.

A Report on Digital Agents, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

Report released August 6, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: Self-driving cars, intelligent digital agents that can act for you, and robots are advancing rapidly. Will networked, automated, artificial intelligence (AI) applications and robotic devices have displaced more jobs than they have created by 2025? Describe your expectation about the degree to which robots, digital agents, and AI tools will have disrupted white collar and blue collar jobs by 2025 and the social consequences emerging from that.

A Report on Net Threats – Future of Access, Trust, Net Neutrality, Copyright

Report released July 3, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: By 2025, will there be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online compared with the way globally networked people can operate online today? Describe what you believe are the most serious threats to the most effective accessing and sharing of content on the Internet. What steps are necessary to block changes that would limit people’s optimal future capabilities in using the Internet? 

A Report on the Internet of Things and Embedded and Wearable Connectivity

Report released May 14, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: As billions of devices, artifacts, and accessories are networked, will the Internet of Things have widespread and beneficial effects on the everyday lives of the public by 2025? Describe the evolution of embedded devices, “wearables,” and “scannables” by 2025 – where will commercial and social applications of the Internet of Things most commonly and vividly be felt? What social and political difficulties will accompany its rise?  

A Report on Digital Life in 2025: An Overview of the Positives, Negatives

Report released March 11, 2014: This survey question asked respondents to share their answer to the following: Make your prediction about the role of the Internet in people’s lives in 2025 and the impact it will have on social, economic, and political processes. Good and/or bad, what do you expect to be the most significant overall impacts of our uses of the Internet on humanity between now and 2025? 

Below are select Internet future predictions made by anonymous participants in the first Elon/Pew “Future of the Internet” survey in 2004.

“The world will get a nervous system, and that is a big deal.”

“Peddlers of wares and services, hucksters of all descriptions and general riff-raff will make these larger social networks somewhat less than useful.”

“Global distribution of information and knowledge over the Internet at lower and lower cost will continue to lift the world community for generations to come.”

“Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy. The Net will wear away institutions that have forgotten how to sound human.”

“In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes in their own reality show.”

“You’ll get more information, but much of it will be contradictory.”

“Entirely new technologies and societal coping mechanisms will need to be developed to process data into information (and who knows if wisdom will follow).”

“Losses from Internet-related crime and terror will exceed losses from all natural disasters.”

“There will be a move toward networked individualism … in work, neighborhoods, kinship and even households.”

“Government will be forced to become increasingly transparent, accessible over the Net, and almost impenetrable if you’re not on the Net.”

“The greatest changes will occur in the arena of trust and human relations.”

“New methods of securing the true from the false will emerge. The source will become more important than the message.”

“The digital divide will grow ever deeper.”

“(We will see) the rise of the sovereignty of the individual (and) the rise in impact of groups of individuals.”

“Knowledge (will be) knowable by impetus of the individual… A new role for teachers will emerge.”

“Transportation will be refined through massive substitution of communication. The current flight to cities will be reversed.”

“We’ll probably see more attempts at control of the Internet, both by business and governments around the world.”

“Connection and automatic sharing of contact information … will foster digital tribes and a stronger sense of ‘family.'”

“Children will grow up with the knowledge that their every move is being watched. This is a recipe for killing the kind of independent thinking that creates innovation.”

“Creativity may bloom but that does not mean it will be seen or appreciated by all.”

“Virtual communities of interest will exercise episodic political power … like a swarm of angry bees!”

“The Internet is like graffiti, only it can be targeted to the right niche.”

“Enhanced communications and access to information are on the evolutionary path to freedom.”

“It is better to be actively, thoughtfully and humanly adapting technology than to be creating inertia to resist it.”