When the internet was invented it promised to change millions of lives in the coming decades. Kleinrock working in MIT in 1961 wrote a research paper based on the theory of switching networks that revolutionised computing & communications and led the way for the invention of radios, telephone and other advanced communication technologies.
Over the years, internet has been transformed from a communication platform into a platform medium for collaboration, interaction and more importantly a marketplace. Government and private investments and efforts came together in a unique way to create today’s internet. It has, over time evolved into a platform where each individual has the power and freedom to build tools, marketplace and create value for the community. The open architecture choices made by the designers were wise and helped to create many sub networks in the grand internet.
Internet and Humans
According to Statista report, the number of connected devices will be 31 billion by 2020. The report further stated the overall Internet of Things market is going to grow at a fast pace and will be worth more than 1 billion U.S. dollars. There is already talk that the internet of things might go on to become an independent internet with no human involvement.
There is a discussion about how weakly connected special devices can impact the present internet and change the world as we know it. In this case the following factors become important as connected devices send data to cloud:
Filtering: Since the connected devices are heavy on data usage there must be a filtering algorithm to select the data which needs to be sent out.
Reaction speed: Computing and intelligence at the edge (on the device) is very important as it allows the device to take some decisions and actions independently without relying on the cloud. This will significantly increase the reaction speed.
Quality of service: Devices tend to be rendered useless once there is no network connection. To avoid this robust designs should be used to target a great quality of service.
Rise of the human(less) internet
Andreas Berger, an internet philosopher and investor says that there are phases in the rise of humanless internet. The stages are:
- The past internet phase has already passed us. During this period, users actively started using the internet and big technology companies like Google grew
- The second stage is known as the bot environment where bots influence and sway public opinion
- The third stage will be Bot vs Bot where many companies now run entire processes on chatbots that are powered by AI. Users also hire bots to automate jobs and many low level tasks will be overtaken by AI agents. Factories have already started rolling out robots on the production floors.
Rise of Botless Zones
What happens when there are bots on both sides of the transaction. In such a condition there are parts of the internet and business transactions that are fully automated without any human interference. The counter reaction to this maybe to create bot less zones on the internet to guarantee people they are communicating with a human online. The need for such an action may seem drastic but with many internet sites opting for chatbots as the primary actor on the customer support side it may become a reality sooner rather than later.
Another facet of the relation between humans and the internet is the “internet fatigue” faced by humans. John Horrigan, Project’s associate director of research of Pew Internet says, “I do think it's a matter of society and individuals in society understanding these tools. So tools can be used for good and tools can be used for ill as well. They can have negative impacts." A Pew Internet study says that according to a survey they did more than two-thirds of Facebook users had taken long hiatus from the social networking site which made them coin the term “Facebook Fatigue.”
The Way Forward
The internet has a massive impact on our psyche and social behaviour in multiple ways. What happens when the internet changes in a way that is somewhat radical? There is going to be a great growth in the production of data and tools especially once the bots take over massive areas of the internet. Cisco, the networking giant reported, “Right now, in 2013, 80 “things” per second are connected to the internet. Next year that number will reach almost 100 per second, and by 2020, more than 250 things will connect each second.” In such a world trust will become an important currency. It is changing the design and workings of the network underneath the internet.
John Hayduk of Tata Communications raises some very interesting questions:
- How will the evolution of the Internet impact the evolution of human behaviour?
- When an anomaly arises, how do you make sure that the network remains in an operating state?
These questions among others talk deeply about the nature of the new bot driven internet and the endeavour to rebuild the internet in a human centric fashion.
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As a thorough data geek, most of Abhijeet's day is spent in building and writing about intelligent systems. He also has deep interests in philosophy, economics and literature.