In Digital Life in 2025, Janna Anderson and Lee Rainie summarize the positive and negative ramifications of technological progress. Keep in mind 2025 is only 8 years in the future, but experts agree the changes will be influential. Experts predict that the Internet will become “like electricity,” so less visible but more deeply embedded in people’s lives.
For better or for worse, we will never be able to escape technology because we will be completely dependent on it. I don’t know about you, but this terrifies me. Every sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen plays through my head when I imagine this. I’m picturing trackers embedded in our arms and all humans under mind control by our computers. Experts don’t predict this happening, but most believe there will be:
- A global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment in a world-spanning information fabric known as the Internet of Things.
- “Augmented reality” enhancements to the real-world input that people perceive through the use of portable/wearable/implantable technologies.
- Disruption of business models established in the 20th century (most notably impacting finance, entertainment, publishers of all sorts, and education).
- Tagging, databasing, and intelligent analytical mapping of the physical and social realms.
Basically, all of our communication patterns will change, even more than they have already. In addition, we will be completely dependent on technology and it will be interwoven in every aspect of our lives. Some positives of this new connectivity are: revolutionizing most human interaction, especially affecting health, education, work, politics, economics, and entertainment. But, some negatives of this new connectivity are: heightened concerns over interpersonal ethics, surveillance, terror, and crime, may lead societies to question how best to establish security and trust while retaining civil liberties.
Expert predictions can be grouped into 15 identifiable theses: 8 characterized as hopeful, 6 as concerned, and another as neutral. In summary, information sharing will be effortlessly interwoven into daily life, it will act like electricity. The Internet will enhance global connectivity, change personal health and social practices, increase awareness of massive global disparities, encourage political action and peaceful change. Norms, laws, manners, and regulations will emerge and evolve in terms of the internet. Most importantly, knowledge is power.
On the downside, social media will amplify inequality and increase tension. The world will become less and less safe as privacy becomes a thing of the past. Most people will lose their grounding in reality, interactions will become more superficial, and less face-to-face contact will lead to less respect and integrity.
So, how do we adjust? By making good choices today, and acknowledging our actions have consequences. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to turn into a mindless technology-driven robot.