Dial-up modems to high speed. Educational institutions sharing research papers to Amazon orders showing up at your door in days, sometimes hours. The internet has come a long way in the past 3o years. What started out with the purest intention of connecting people across vast distances to a privacy breaching, data gathering juggernaut, the internet is a wonderful example of how humans change and mold the world around us.
For the idealist, the internet still holds the key to a better tomorrow. And when you start thinking about how that future could be, the internet holds the key to unlocking many world empowering things. But what does the next version of the internet look like? How will we interact with our digital creation? Will we be able to regain confidence in knowing our privacy is safe? Exploring these questions will hopefully inspire the makers of the world to use this power we’ve been given in beautiful and unique ways.
What’s in Store with Internet 4.0?
The first thing that will come in the next wave of the internet, is a blanket. We will cover the world in connectivity. Facebook with it’s (now halted) Aquila program and Google’s internet spreading weather balloons, Loon are just the beginning of a ubiquitous internet.
Ubiquity could come in the form of smart devices or the internet of things, requiring different access points, but there are too many security factors and the reason that IoT will likely fail. Instead of concerning ourselves with connecting every device we own through different portals and having to provide thousands of companies access to our wifi credentials in a very insecure way, the home router will take on new life as a single connection point. However, it is likely that our home router will become our personal router. A device that we carry around, as a block, band, or implant, that provides our access to the internet blanket that surrounds us.
This device will be the gatekeeper and will require some variant of biometrics, ensuring that we are the only ones accessing our connected lives. Our devices in our home, public access points, automobiles and more, will connect to our PGK (personal gatekeeper). When the PGK is deactivated you are taken offline. Boot the PGK back up and you are open to the internet anonymously, wherever you go.
Obviously this is just one idea of an optimist, but hopefully you get the idea.
No matter what device you start on, you’ll be able to finish it on another device. With the internet everywhere, the need to continue sessions whenever and wherever you decide to will become invaluable.
The next internet will provide this ability. Google Chrome has already tackled the problem fairly well, but you are still limited to the Chrome browser.
Browser choice will be unimportant in the next internet as your session data will follow you around. You’ll be able to start on a laptop, jump over to your phone as you walk down the hallway, and then continue on your company desktop without ever needing to worry about signing in. And more importantly, without having to worry about signing out and leaving all your data on a different device!
Augmented reality, or AR, is truly the under utilized tool of our current internet and it will explode into everyday use in internet 4.0.
Although virtual reality is incredible and will have it’s place in our future, augmented reality will be the true champion over the iteration of the internet.
With the ability to use the world around you as a canvas, augmented reality provides near limitless opportunities for diagnostics and repair , education, and goods and services. In a world where everyone is connected all the time, augmented reality will take over the heavy lifting of ones imagination when encountering scenarios that are unfamiliar or were once impossible.
Diagnostics and repair will help turn everyone into a fixer. Like YouTube gave confidence to the average joe to take on a task they knew nothing about, AR will embolden the everyday user and amplify the experts abilities. Need to rewire a house? AR will walk you through the process in real time, with real data coming from your connected voltammeter.
Museums have already started benefiting by bringing history to life with the use of AR. Schools will be able to take advantage of making math problems literally leap off of the page.
Goods and services have a lot to gain from AR. Imagine walking into a store and getting to try on clothes using augmented reality. What if you were an interior designer and could show people in their own home, what your design would look like. Showcasing your event space? Have your potential walk through an AR version of the space with their own design choices or a catalogue of past designs.
The immersion of our every day with AR will quite literally change the way we view our world.
Implants are coming. Fitbits, smart watches, wearable meditation headsets that hack your brain waves are just the beginning of our self awareness and dive into cyborgism. One could argue that the smart phone and internet are already a form of cybernetics. The ability to offload brain function into a device is arguably the start of becoming a cyborg.
But keeping the device outside your body conjures fewer images of cyborgs than implants do, even if the functionality is similar. However, for internet 4.0, implants will become a normal part of life. Whether these implants are lifelong or require regular renewals is something for the future consumer to help decide.
Technology that integrates with your body is not far away from being an accepted norm. We will be able to access the internet, store our most intimate files, travel through borders, or have your entire medical history available with a consent and scan.
Privacy and security, as always, are the main concerns, but we already provide much of this information to web portals without really understanding how well our data is being stored. The only difference is that all of this takes place outside of our bodies.
Embracing the Deep Web
The Deep Web sounds scary to people who are not interested in technology. If Amazon is the place you shop for your toiletries then the deep web is nothing more than the place you shop for your illegal drugs.
If you’ve ever connected to the deep web through a TOR browser you’ll likely have seen that yes, you can get into what is a subsection of the deep web known as the dark web. And yes, here you can do anything a criminally minded person could imagine.
But the deep web as a whole, is really about anonymity. Tracking and mining your data has become the way of the web. The phrase, “if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product” has become a staple when talking about companies that gather your details in exchange for your personal information. They use this information to do many things that improve your experience online and they also make sure to show you only the most targeted ads possible.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the idea of gathering personal data to make for a better experience. This has been in practice well before google and Facebook. The problem in this day and age is how our data is being used. Fake News is a major issue of today and targeting has a big part to play in how effective and widespread fake news can be online. The other side to privacy coin is government agencies. When we open ourselves up and use services we believe are secure, only to later find out, thanks to whistleblowers like Ed Snowden, that government agencies have backdoored our private lives, the idea of a deep web seems obvious.
In the next version of the internet, there will be a shift into using more privacy protecting services like the deep web. Businesses and marketers will need to look at how they can reach their customers without the use of ad tracking and retargeting. Browsers like the Brave browser, will become more popular and our deep web fears will be replaced with a safer internet.
The idea of ownership continues to become obsolete. As car sharing apps like Uber increase in popularity, people are becoming more comfortable with the idea of not actually owning things. This will translate to a world where screens are the gateway and owning a personal device is less desirable.
Instead of having to carry around a device at all times, or multiple devices, things will be more akin to their depiction in the movie “Her”. Your files, data, information, will travel with you and become instantly accessible at terminals around the globe. Looking out the window on the train will become an interactive experience.
Maybe you’ll carry around what amounts to a deck of cards, each a screen that can be easily connected to one another so you can build your display to whatever size you need. Or your laptop will be replaced by nothing more than a piece of durable and foldable glass that connects instantly to the internet and the world at large.
Obviously shared screens everywhere will have privacy concerns. How will you be able to safely access your information on a screen shared by hundreds if not thousands of people? Won’t everyone just be able to look at what you are doing? Why not just use things like google glass for a personalized screen?
Working on a screen in your eye has it’s limitations. Doing a full blown spreadsheet or designing a graphic novel would suit this medium very well. For things like this, having a large screen makes for more productivity.
A potential solution to screen limitations of an internet accessed by glasses, which could also increase privacy, would utilize the glasses as a privacy filter. So multiple people could be looking at the same screen, but the screen responds to the glasses in what it displays. Like 3D goggles where each eye receives a different picture and then your brain puts it together. Each set of glasses would receive a different transmission which allows multiple users to access the same screen simultaneously.
Rising Tide of Change
The next wave of the internet will likely come in a slow rising tide instead of a tsunami, as many technological advancements do. Looking back it always seems as though we didn’t have something and then we did, but when you look closely, the improvements are often gradual.
What do you think will come in the next rising tide of the internet?