Digital Future a Fragile Mix of Promise and Uncertainty, Says Global Internet Report
The study, from The Internet Society, highlights the need to do more to prepare the Internet for the future.
Sep 18, 2017—
The Internet Society (ISOC), a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet, today released a first-of-its-kind report aimed at exploring the future of the Internet. Entitled "Paths to our Digital Future," the 2017 Global Internet Report examines the Internet over the next five to seven years and identifies the factors that will shape its future. The report uncovers a mix of challenges and opportunities in safeguarding the Internet for the next generation and makes recommendations on the steps that can be taken today to realize the Internet's promise for everyone, everywhere.
The 2017 Global Internet Report considers the many forces that are shaping the Internet today, from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cyber threats, Internet standards and the Internet of Things (IoT), to the Internet economy and the rising role of government. It explores how these forces will impact key areas including digital divides, personal freedoms and rights, as well as media and society. Taken together, these forces will change the Internet in dramatic ways over the coming years.
Some of the key findings contained in the report include:
Outlined in the report are key recommendations (insert hyperlink) for businesses, advocacy organizations, governments and other stakeholders to help ensure that the future Internet remains user-centric and that it continues to work for the benefit of all.
The report notes that advanced deployment of the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence will transform whole economies and societies in the coming years through automation and the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. This transformation will change the nature of the digital divide as it has been historically defined – i.e. those that have access to the Internet versus those that do not.
While many in the Internet Society's global community shared the view that the Internet is facing a period of unprecedented change, they also reaffirmed their belief in the core ideas that have shaped the Internet to date.
"Our extensive research clearly shows that just as when the Internet Society was founded 25 years ago, people believe that the Internet's core values still remain valid— that it must be global, open, secure, and used for the benefit of people everywhere in the world," said Sally Wentworth, Vice President of Global Policy for the Internet Society.
Many of the thoughts expressed in the report illustrate a strong, commonly-held belief in the potential of the Internet to continue to bring positive change to people's lives. Respondents –particularly youth in developing countries--pointed to growth in new technologies and applications as evidence that the Internet continues to fuel innovation, and to the benefits that connectivity can deliver for education, health, economic prosperity and social change.
However, these hopes and beliefs are countered by wide-ranging fears that there are significant forces at work that may undermine the promise of the Internet for future generations . For example, many believe that Internet freedom will continue to decline around the world due to widespread surveillance, Internet shutdowns and content regulation. There is also the view that the media landscape will become more difficult to navigate and that separating fact from fiction will become ever harder.
Some are worried about the threat of new divides and how these will not only deepen existing gaps between countries, but also across society as a whole. In particular, the report explores the emergence of a new security and trust divide characterized by cyber threats that continue to multiply, and a growing rift between users who are security-aware and those who lack the skills, knowledge and resources to protect themselves online.
"We found that people share a sense of both optimism and disillusionment for the Internet's future in equal measure. While there are no guarantees of what lies ahead, we know that humanity must be at the center of tomorrow's Internet. The Internet must continue to benefit people and create new social and economic possibilities to fulfill the premise on which it was built. We should heed the warnings in this report and begin to take the actions today that will help to keep the Internet working for everyone, everywhere far into the future," added Wentworth.
To download or browse the 2017 Global Internet Report online, please visit: https://www.internetsociety.org/globalinternetreport/2017.
As part of its 25-year anniversary celebration, the Internet Society is hosting a forum discussing the Global Internet Report findings at the Luskin Conference Center, University of California at Los Angeles on Sept. 18 at 11AM Pacific/2PM Eastern. The discussion will be streamed at https://livestream.com/internetsociety/isocreport2017.
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