Internet Communications

What is the future of the Internet?
Answered by Dr. Astro Teller, Tiffany Shlain and 22 others
  • Dr. Astro Teller

    Dr. Astro Teller

  • Tiffany Shlain

    Tiffany Shlain

  • Ted Leonsis

    Ted Leonsis

  • Yossi Vardi

    Yossi Vardi

  • John Maeda

    John Maeda

  • Hugh Panero

    Hugh Panero

  • W. Daniel Hillis

    W. Daniel Hillis

  • John Seely Brown

    John Seely Brown

  • John L. Hennessy

    John L. Hennessy

  • Jim St. Leger

    Jim St. Leger

  • John Healy

    John Healy

  • Anya Kamenetz

    Anya Kamenetz

  • Paul Saffo

    Paul Saffo

  • Bill Moggridge

    Bill Moggridge

  • Bran Ferren

    Bran Ferren

  • Michael Hawley

    Michael Hawley

  • Xingang Guo

    Xingang Guo

  • Philip Rosedale

    Philip Rosedale

  • Jay Walker

    Jay Walker

  •  Marissa Mayer

    Marissa Mayer

  • Steve Case

    Steve Case

  • Joi Ito

    Joi Ito

  • Brewster Kahle

    Brewster Kahle

  • Eric Schmidt

    Eric Schmidt

  1. Dr. Astro Teller Director of New Projects, Google


    The Internet really enabled content at a distance of data. I think what we have already seen is not going to be the most important part of the Internet. It was just the first wave of the Internet. So we are going to see radical levels of collaboration. Just as Wikipedia defines collaboration on content, we will see a web site like, if it were built 10 years from now, built around the world possibly by hundreds or thousands of people who don't necessarily work together, and who don't even necessarily get paid.

    We will see a merging of various forms of entertainment, i.e. these massively parallel online gaming environments and movies, taking us into places that have dramatic arcs that can have directorial authorship but offer choice within the game or movie. We will see a reconnection of the Internet to the physical world.

    Right now, the Internet is a place we have to go and kind of pretend that we are not somewhere in a particular place. The Internet will cease to be something that we think of as a place.  It will be an infrastructure which supports everything we do in our lives: Every glass that you pick up, every door handle that you grab will know who you are and it will respond to you appropriately. We will come to see the Internet as almost something like a force that pervades our physical environment rather than this separate, ethereal world that we leave the physical world to go to.

    More answers from Dr. Astro Teller »

  2. Tiffany Shlain Filmmaker & Founder, The Webby Awards


    Right now we have 2 billion people online. So just imagine a day when everybody on the planet is online through their smartphone or whatever they're linked with. Humans have also created 100 trillion objects in the world and we don't really have access to that supply chain. So we're working with an organization called Good Guide. You scan a barcode and you can suddenly find a lot of information out about the company that made that product.

    So, talking about shifting the way that people live or use products or oil or whatever it is, if we could start connecting the dots and linking the cause and effect of all of our actions real-time in the supply chain, that's when I think you'll see a change in behavior to maybe some more sustainable things or sweatshops or to empower women or all of these major issues of our day.

    If we had the tools to really unlock information that would link up the supply chain in real-time as you were doing something, it's like, "Oh, this is affecting ... " you know and you got to visually see it, I think that would be very powerful. So to me what's exciting is the idea of linking up all the minds on the planet to tackle the biggest issues of our day as well as linking up the 100 trillion objects we've created and resources we've used to create them and all of the things that surround that, and understand the ripple effects of our actions and I think we would be more conscious. That's what I'm really interested in.

    My first instinct was to say it could happen in 20 years but it could happen in 10. There could be something – some wireless thing we're not thinking of that could connect people in cheap technology that would do it really quickly.

    More answers from Tiffany Shlain »

  3. Ted Leonsis Founder, Chairman, Majority Owner, CEO, Monumental Sports & Entertainment


    Well, I think we're on this path of faster, better, cheaper 'til it's free. I think bandwidth will be available to everyone like running water. I mean, it saddens me greatly right now. There are 2 billion people around the world that have access to the Internet, and there's a billion and a half people that don't have electricity and any running water. And so the gap between the haves and the have-nots accelerates because of the Internet. The Internet levels the playing field for education. The Internet, we see, brings down governments. I always believed that democracy and putting the power in the hands of the people, that one of the offshoots of that would be revolution.

    And we saw that in Egypt. I mean that was a social media and phenomenon. They used maps. They used texting and Twitter to gather, and they had peaceful demonstrations, and the power of the populace in bringing all those people together was much mightier than soldiers that were armed. And so I would view that as an unbelievable positive [effect] of social media …I would say that the Internet is like oxygen. Everyone had better get used to it. I do think that we're going to see the Internet change every single industry, and that's just like electricity did. And that's how we have to grasp it, as the technology of our time and generation. My dad died a couple years ago at 95 years old. He remembered an age growing up, where there were no planes. There were no airplanes. He was born 1912. There were -- there was no electricity. He did not have access to electricity for the first ten years of his life in his house. And my daughter, who's a freshman in college, she's never bought a physical piece of music. Everything's in the cloud, right?

    That's two generations where one generation was living with candles and his granddaughter is living life on the net. And the pace of change will only get faster. It's why projects like Curiosity are so important. It'll -- the Internet will make a project like Curiosity work and get to a really big audience. Instead of it being on cable, it'll be on broadband. It'll be available instantly to 2 billion people. But hopefully, what it'll do is get back to those basic human issues that we all face, that we all share, and bring together a community of interest that can collectively tackle what's on our minds.

    What's in our hearts? What basic piece of light, you know, that we can follow, and try to answer some of these most pressing questions before our generation.

    More answers from Ted Leonsis »

  4. Yossi Vardi High-Tech Entrepreneur


    I think the main challenge will be security, the security challenge. I think it's a much more severe issue than we tend to think about, and this will be a major challenge. Another challenge that we are seeing growing very fast, is the whole issue of infrastructure. With all these wonderful things, the bandwidth which is needed is growing, like, unbelievably.

    And I think that the issue of providing the bandwidth with all of these devices, with the devices going down in price, and the screens and the HD going down in price, the consumption of bandwidth is growing immensely, and the question how it will be provided.

    And there are also very, very important economic issues related to it, where the operators are trying to hold the – everybody's trying to hang to the food chain. Everybody is providing one link of the food chain, saying, "Because of my link, the whole food chain exists. So I have to take as maximum benefit as I can." So you see the fight between the operators, the content creators, the content aggregators, everybody's trying to take a bigger portion of it. You have the issues of net neutrality, etc., so you have a whole host of economic and physical issues that we will have to wrestle with. I don't know if we will ever get into a steady state. I'm afraid it will continue to be a continuous fight. And this is one of the biggest challenges, not the only one.

    More answers from Yossi Vardi »

  5. John Maeda President, Rhode Island School of Design


    The future is very clear to everyone who is deeply involved with technology. It's more open source, it's more collaborative, more social. It's mixing the virtual world and the physical world in some seamless way. It's a beautiful, pluginable way to connect to the virtual world. That's how I used to feel or that's the Jell-O I used to eat, the Kool-Aid I used to drink. Now I feel a little bit different. I can see it coming anyways and technology is powerful, science is powerful. It makes it, whether you like it or not, often for good, sometimes a little bit bad attached to it. For me, the Internet I think what will come is people will have a more conscious view of their sense of, their choice of balance around it. We'll have, like, I wouldn't say addiction clinics, but we'll have a different kind of teaching around, How do you deal with this fact that where you're standing right now doesn't matter so much? Only if a car were to hit you -- and heaven forbid -- but aside from physical bodily harm, your mind can travel so much easier now?

    I think coping with that, as this rate and possibility keeps growing, is going to be the next technological hurdle, sociological hurdle. I find that interesting. Secondly, how we relate to each other. You know, I think the sci-fi authors are always so spot on. As we work through surrogate systems like this, will it be awkward for me to sit with you like this in ten years from now? Will it be so normal to do it the more efficient way? I don't know. But I hope that we're gonna ask that question. Am I talking about a more Luddite approach to -- No, it's just a – What is that word they use that Nike has considered? A more considered approach to how we leverage technologies, whether to perform tests better or to engage people.

    I hope we ask that question. You know, it's so funny because yesterday we had a presentation for managers in one of my HR meetings, which I love, and so we had this presentation all set to go, right, and in the middle of the presentation a big error message appears in the middle and it says, Check airflow. And, of course, it is in the computer. It's a projector in the ceiling that is giving it a message, so you're completely powerless to do anything whatsoever. And so the meeting stops, of course, but it's like, oh, well, the slides don't work, so we're, we can't work.

    So I'm just curious about – that's not gonna go away. That has been around for a long time. So how can we learn as a society to not be so stuck and let me show you my – how can we take off some of this stuff that are stuck to us? I think we'll be able to rebalance, 'cause we've got a lot. We need a little less. Not all the way – this is all the way super non-ludditish. We need to go somewhere here. I wanna know how we'll find that point.

    More answers from John Maeda »

  6. Hugh Panero Venture Partner, NEA


    As I peer into the future, I see a couple of things. I see some wonderful things happening. I'm seeing a lot of fragmentation. I see privacy issues becoming an enormous question mark, because the kind of things that people are able to find out about you and use about you or sell about you, I think is a little scary in a lot of ways. There's gonna be a lot of effort -- what's going on today is -- can you really self-regulate to protect consumers, even though they're gonna have a wealth of treasure that they can take advantage of a lot of these companies but are people gonna have the self-restraint to use some good common sense about what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.

    I would guess that there'll be a bad action that'll occur, someone will do something in the next five years that's gonna cause the government to sort of look at how to regulate this more effectively because there's been a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal and a number of places about what happens when you go on a certain Web site and what they're able to do and dropping cookies that will track you and they sell the information and suddenly you're very exposed. And if the Internet is gonna have this enormous place in your life, then we've gotta be very careful that it doesn't abuse its privilege.

    More answers from Hugh Panero »

  7. W. Daniel Hillis Co-founder, Applied Minds


    So I have to tell you that, right now, just in the sense that in 1974, it was playing with computers, and the Internet. And you could feel that that was the thing that was going to cause the next revolution. Today, it's biology and proteomics. That's the thing that has that same feeling. It's like I can see the potential is just latent, and all the right pieces are coming together, so that we're going to be able to start manipulating and understanding living organisms in a way that, in the '70s, we were just starting to manipulate and understand computers. So, to me, that's the analogous thing. It's not what's the next thing in computers? I think computers will continue to evolve. They'll get smarter and smarter and smarter. But the thing that feels to me like the Internet used to feel is biology.

    I'm getting trained in biology the same way I got trained in computers, which is finding the great people and hanging out with them. So let me tell you a story about when I knew I wanted to study artificial intelligence. I read everything I could about it. And I figured that the person I really wanted to be with was this guy named Marvin Minsky. He seemed to be at the root of all the ideas that really excited me.

    And so I went to MIT, and I show up at the AI lab. And I sneak in, which was very hard to even physically get into the lab. But I slipped in behind. And I started hanging out enough that eventually they offered me a job. I'm still looking around. Where's Marvin Minsky? I couldn't find Marvin. Eventually I started asking, "Where's Marvin? There's his office. He's never there." And they said, "Oh, well, you know, he works late. He works down in the basement. He's building this computer," which was – before anybody had built personal computers, he was trying, he was actually succeeding in building a personal computer.

    And so I went down late at night, and sure enough, there's Marvin working with his little team of graduate students, and working on this computer. But I was too shy to actually talk to Marvin. So I sort of look at the computer diagrams. And I notice a mistake in one of them. So I thought, this is my introduction to Marvin. So I go up to him, and I say, "Excuse me, Dr. Minsky. But there's a mistake in this." And he says, "Well, fix it." I said, "Well, what do you mean?" He says, "Well, fix it on the drawing, and then go fix it in the computer." And so I fixed it. And then look around, and found another one. And he said, "Hey, don't stop asking me. Just fix it." And then, pretty soon, Marvin just thought I worked for him.

    More answers from W. Daniel Hillis »

  8. John Seely Brown Visiting scholar at USC, Independent Co-Chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge


    I don't have anything particularly poetic to say about the Internet. I mean, to me, my view hasn't changed much in terms of it's an amplifier to the social mind. It's finding it is enabling us to actually amplify as I said earlier our curiosity tremendously. It enables us to find almost anything we want, but more importantly to connect to other people, and through that connection discover new types of things that enable us to just do almost anything you want at the moment that you want to do it.

    So, very personally speaking, when I stepped down from running Xerox PARC, I left the world's best infrastructure. And it was kind of like going cold turkey all of a sudden. And I have to say that within three years after stepping down from having 250 Ph.D.s and incredible support structures and laboratories galore to do X and Y and Z, now, in kind of today's world, and I have niche networks all over the world that I stay in daily contact with, we're doing things distributedly in incredibly powerful ways. We're able to triangulate on different things. In fact, all this work in terms of understanding China was almost serendipitously happening, that we kind of encountered one example and started digging into that, going back to curiosity. And suddenly we unpack all kinds of things that most people in the Western world are much oblivious to.

    So this whole sense to being able to be able to support a questing disposition. On the one hand, a productive inquiry and exploring things; and then also a connecting disposition that enables me to connect to other people and create groups on the fly in order to explore topics and do things. And so all of a sudden, sitting here basically alone, I feel like now I can do things that I couldn't even do at Xerox PARC in the old days, and we did a lot of things. And I have these kind of niche groups all over the world that I work with effectively, and we can try out radical ideas of all kinds of things, including inventing radical new types of transistors that you'll hear about in the near future. So it's just intriguing to me how we've been able to kind of build an infrastructure that enables me to quest and connect.

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