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Pew Report: The Internet of Things

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May 30, 2014
CTOvision
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By ShannonPerry

The Pew Research Center Internet Project, one of the current initiatives overseen by Pew Research, is attempting to mark the World Wide Web’s 25th anniversary with a thorough look at the Internet’s future. The most recent report is called the Internet of Things, a phrase for modern devices that feed data back and forth – including wearables, smartphones, appliances, vehicles, and computers. The report contains both unequivocally optimistic predictions and very cautious predictions about technology’s future.

1,606 technology experts were asked, “The evolution of embedded devices and the Internet/Cloud of Things—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?” 83% answered “Yes”; 17% answered “No.” After asking the experts to elaborate, Pew identified several common trends among the responses.

These themes include: the use of wearable devices will grow significantly; the digitalization and datafication of nearly every human action will pose immense challenges to privacy; brain-to-network connectivity will probably not exist by 2025; the ballooning dependence on technology will have unintended and complex consequences; individuals outside the digitalized world will be seriously disadvantaged – separated by “digital divides”, and the nature of interpersonal relationships will likely undergo significant changes. The report provides long quotes elaborating on these trends from the surveyed experts, which include a research scientist at MIT and a vice president at Google.

The quotes offer interesting – and sometimes frightening – predictions about the future of information technology and the Internet of Things. The report is lengthy but worth the read for individuals interested in what connectivity might mean ten years from now.