WebsiteCompass 9 that are microscopic in nature) may be plugged directly into the brain for full-immersion virtual reality, and there could be eye implants allowing us to see the digital world without the need for a display. If you’re not crazy about the idea of adding objects to your brain or eyes, “future you” will have the non-invasive option of augmented reality glasses with display capabilities. Looking through augmented reality glasses will activate a digital overlay with information about your surroundings—the type of information that you now do a Google search for on your phone. For example, you could use this capability to find a nearby place to eat or look up a store owner’s contact information. But the possibilities don’t stop there. These glasses could enable you to swap out the view so you could see what your surroundings looked like in the past. Imagine walking through Rome, and after giving a simple command, being able to view it the way it was during Julius Caesar’s time. Internet Everywhere Leonard Kleinrock, the UCLA professor who networked the first computers in the early packet-switching network, had this to say about the internet’s future: “I predict that the internet will evolve into a pervasive global nervous system. The internet will be everywhere, available on a continuous basis, and will be invisible in the sense that it will disappear into the infrastructure, just as electricity is, in many ways, invisible. The Internet of Things will be an embedded world of the Internet of Invisible Things. We will be able to interact with its capabilities via human-friendly interfaces such as speech, gestures, haptics, holograms, displays, and so on.” While these internet predictions may seem like science fiction to us now, monumental progress in technology has already taken place compared to our grandparents’ lifetimes. Prepare for an adventure ahead! Reasons for Hope, Reasons for Worry Several years ago, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked hundreds of technology experts how individuals’ lives might be affected by the evolution of the internet in the next five decades. Their hopeful predictions included: • Internet-enabled technology will help people live longer and healthier lives. Scientific advances will continue to blur the line between human and machine. • Artificial intelligence (AI) tools will take over repetitive, unsafe, and physically taxing labor, leaving humans with more time for leisure. • A fully networked world will enhance opportunities for global collaboration, cooperation, and community development—unhindered by distance, language, or time. • Expanded internet access could potentially reduce inequality and empower individuals. Their worrisome predictions included: • The divide between haves and havenots will grow as a privileged few hoard the economic, health, and educational benefits of digital expansion. • The hyperconnected future will be populated by isolated users who will struggle to form and maintain human relationships. • Personal privacy will be an archaic, outdated concept, as humans willingly trade discretion for improved health care, entertainment opportunities, and promises of security. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the internet?