The New York Times has been carrying a series of articles regarding the world in 2020 together with the views of it’s readers. People’s futures include a world in which individuals routinely connect their brains to the internet, a society in which most people date online and a future where people are increasingly at risk of being harmed by computer viruses due to the increasing interconnectedness of humanity and machines.
Well I may as well put in my two pennysworth. Here are just a few of the trends which I see developing in the future:
1. An increasing debate between those who wish to control what people do online and those who believe that constraints on individual’s online lives are iliberal. In particular I see a movement which will wish to stop (or, at least severely limit) the ability of people to express themselves, sexually online). As cyber sex becomes increasingly realistic citizens will wish to experiment. This will lead to a growth of people offering cyber sex in return for payment which, in turn will cause a backlash from those who believe that prostitution is immoral. Just as prostitution leads (in the real world) to what these people believe is exploitation, they will contend that exactly the same pertains in the virtual world and will, therefore seek to stop virtual brothels and a plethora of other activities associated with sex. This will provoke a backlash from those who believe that what consenting adults do in private is no concern of the state and could lead to attempts to regulate sexual expression, on the internet being challenged on human rights grounds.
If (at some future stage) artifically created persons can offer sexual experiences, over the internet which approximate to the real thing then a new dimention will be added. Doubtless some will argue that indulging in sex with virtual persons demeans those who avail themselves of such cyber services. However others will argue that as the “sex workers” are not real people there can be no exploitation, therefore there is no problem because no human being is being demeaned. Irrespective of the morality or otherwise of such a future state of affairs I predict that it will be very difficult (if not impossible) for governments to police/control such activities.
2. I see a growing group of people who value the real over the virtual. For example beautifully produced paper books will retail at a premium. Some will collect works of literature to enhance their social status by demonstrating that they own a “real” as opposed to a “virtual” work of literature, while others will want books, on their bookshelves due to an inate sense that their is something intrinsically valuable in printed books which can last for centuries. This is not, necessarily an either or scinario. People who value books in their traditional printed form may well still own a Kindle or whatever succeeds it and other similar devices, however they will still wish to collect and cherish literature in it’s traditional printed form.
For the New York Time’s article please visit http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/science/imagining-2076-connect-your-brain-to-the-internet.html?_r=1