With the beginning of a new year, we look in 2 articles ahead to inform you about major themes for 2018.
Last week we looked at the many ways in which the internet has disappointed us, whether it be through centralization of power, fake news, hacks, the recent repeal of net neutrality rules and the many unwanted side-effects of the internet on our physical, mental and social health. Hence, for our outlook on next year, we are interested in what political, technological and socio-cultural countermeasures can be expected to mitigate the systemic risks currently involved with the internet.
- Currently 26 US senators support a resolution in which the repeal of the Title II net neutrality rules is undone.
- Some speculate that the repeal of Title II could lead to a surge in local broadband providers in the US.
- The Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report shows that businesses rate lock-in as a higher business risk than security and cost when it comes to the use of cloud services (e.g. AWS, Azure)
- In a previous note we looked at the many different initiatives regarding the open decentralized internet.
While this year the public has shared its concern about the negative effects of the internet, legislators, developers, and businesses are already working on solutions. On the legislative side, we see that the EU is moving forward with its privacy regulation (General Data Protection Regulation). More specifically, GDPR dictates that users should be informed and asked for consent when it comes to data collection and processing, while at the same time having the right to access and move data that has been collected on them. However, it remains to be seen how feasible the enforcement of these policies is, without having the proper means of auditing these platforms.
Businesses could form collaborative consortia to pool resources (e.g. data, IT) as a means to survive the competition with big tech.
On the technological side, we saw that 2017 was the year of cryptocurrencies and public blockchains becoming mainstream. Apart from its speculative nature, it also is a space which is committed to decentralizing points of failure in our current internet architecture. Cloud infrastructure, digital transactions, identity management systems, search, social media, advertising, data market places are just a few of the applications that could be decentralized by these projects.
Also businesses will adopt coping strategies in dealing with large tech companies. First of all, companies will move away from having a single cloud provider to multiple cloud providers in order to resist lock-in effects. Furthermore, smaller businesses could also learn from the past and see how collaboration with competitors and non-traditional companies could actually help in the fight against big tech disruption. Within the business of journalism, changes in business models (e.g. subscription models, micro-transactions) and platform strategies (e.g. reputation systems) could safeguard quality content.
Furthermore, we will also see that many of the detrimental societal effects will be addressed through social practices. To combat fake news, some schools are already actively teaching children how to deal with information on the web through news literacy courses. Also when it comes to social media use, we see that people move from large online social podia to smaller and more closed off niche groups. Lastly, there is always the risk that users will flee social platforms altogether in the presence of a better alternative. A famous example is the exodus of the Digg community to Reddit as a consequence of an aggressive advertising strategy.
- As a consequence of the influx of capital, we will see a variety of alpha launches of decentralized platforms within the cryptocurrency space in the coming year.
- Businesses could form collaborative consortia to pool resources (e.g. data, IT) as a means to survive the competition with big tech. Interestingly, these consortia will form across industries for the sake complementary data sets.
- Cryptocurrencies, public blockchains and internet decentralization projects will experience increased resistance from powerful players (e.g. government, finance, big tech).
- Due to the introduction of GDPR, we will see a continued surge in business around reviewing enterprise IT to be GDPR compliant.
- Governments will realize that policy cannot be enforced through legislation only but also through transforming government itself through technology. Countries like Estonia already show the way forward towards becoming an e-government (e.g. reg-tech, e-services, digital currency).