Predicting the future is not only difficult, it can also be dangerous. Make the wrong decision and the consequences can be devastating. Things are particularly tricky in the world of technology, but this has not stopped Microsoft from flipping forward a few years in the calendar to see just what the cyberspace of the future might look like. The Cyberspace 2025 report focuses largely on security, but also looks at the social, political, and technological factors that could influence the direction the cyberworld may travel in during the coming years.
Few would argue against the idea that technological advancements and increased connectivity have done wonders for the world. Communication is easier, information and education is now more accessible and cheaper than ever, and business can be conducted faster than ever. But there have also been a number of downsides, such as security, cyberterrorism, and digital inequality.
The report predicts that by 2025, 91 percent of the developed world will be making use of the internet, compared to 69 percent of those in developing nations. The pace of change has been terrifying, as the problem of the digital divided is exacerbated by the fact that developing countries has less to invest in technology than developed economies, thereby — at least in theory — widening the gap between the two. The prediction is that growth in web use with be highest in emerging economies, but the worry is that demand with outstrip supply.
This is a problem recognized by Cyberspace 2025, as is the issue of the associated security risks with ever-more digital lives. The report points out that “the objectives and actions of governments, businesses, and societal organizations today will shape the progress of technology in the future. Their policies, programs, and investments can support or undermine ICT (Information and Communications Technology) development and global cybersecurity”.
Governing an increasingly connected world is something that needs to be carefully managed, suggests the report. “Development of governance models that set clear policy direction and provide a cybersecurity framework for the country or region. Ideally, governance models should include commitments to an open, free Internet where privacy is protected; harmonization of laws and standards with international bodies and foreign governments; and supporting global free trade.”
The future of cyberspace is simultaneously bleak and exciting. Nothing is yet set in stone as there are a huge number of variables that can be influenced right now and in the near future. Cyberspace 2025 makes for fascinating reading, and there is more to explore at the accompanying website.