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This brief explores the coming next generation Internet — a web that is secure, decentralized, sensually immersive and has other advanced features. Below are key trends driving this change.
The Blockchain Revolution
George Gilder’s latest book, Life After Google, is a landmark forecast on what he calls the “cryptocosm.” Like his earlier book, Microcosm, which forecast the Information Technology Revolution caused by microchips, followed by Telecosm, which forecast today’s explosion of wireless technology, the cryptocosm extends major advances in blockchain technology into all spheres of the Internet.
Gilder thinks the cryptocosm will produce a web that overthrows the top-down monopolies of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the other tech giants that have created a web that is insecure, clumsy, and destined to fail. Using stunning examples of brilliant technological advances by pioneering entrepreneurs, Life After Google promises an Internet that is secure, private, decentralized and controlled by users rather than the tech giants.
In Gilder’s terms:
“Google is hierarchical. Life after Google will be heterarchical. Google is top-down. Life after Google will be bottom-up. Google rules by the insecurity of the lower layers in the stack. A porous stack enables the money and power to be sucked up to the top. In Life after Google, a secure ground state in the individual, registered and timestamped in a digital ledger, will prevent this suction of hierarchical power.”
A telling sign is that China is leading the blockchain revolution. In October of 2019, Premier Xi Jinping called on the nation to “seize the opportunity of blockchain technology as a new security architecture for the Internet.” In April 25, 2020, China launched its national blockchain platform, the Blockchain Service Network (BSN). In time, Xi plans to replace their national currency and other currencies around the globe with new digital systems.
There are reservations about blockchains. It requires multiple people to endorse a transaction, burns up huge amounts of energy and generally seems too complicated. But we should not discount too easily this latest vision from one of the seers of technology.
Related breakthroughs are underway as gaming technology becomes vividly immersive, interactive, intelligent and 3 dimensional — creating the famed Metaverse pioneered a few years ago by Second Life. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, Facebook’s Horizon, Epic Games’ Fortnite, Minecraft, and other contenders are blazing a path that seems likely to move virtual reality from expensive headsets into everyday life on the web. There were 2.6 billion people playing games globally in 2017, producing revenue of $100 billion.
Jacob Novak, CEO Genvid Technologies, expects the web to become “a mix of game engines, interactivity and video… game engines will be the primary way people will have interfaces with the Internet.”
Travis Scott, a celebrated gamer in Fortnite, thinks “As VR and AR evolve, we’ll be able to build truly immersive virtual worlds.”
After years of sluggish growth in VR, we are seeing the convergence of the Internet, high-resolution graphical interfaces, greater computing power, motion sensors, 3D modeling, digital games, and social networking. We also see the rise of augmented reality (AR) – digital information laid over the real-world environment. Experts think these diverse virtual environments will converge into a virtual metaverse. Expectation is that VR will reach mainstream adoption about 2023 + 3/- 1 years and the market will reach about US$550 billion when it hits saturation level about 2030.
Other prominent forecasts
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg thinks “Immersive 3D is the obvious next thing after video.”
Heather Bellini, an executive at Goldman Sachs, thinks: “VR and AR will be as transformative as the smartphone.”
Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson, authors of Infinite Reality, expect a future where “your avatar fills in for you at virtual meetings while you do something more important.”
Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA, Langley, sees this evolving into experiences something similar to the movie Matrix: “The effect is essentially to take a 5 senses cell phone and put it in your head. Going forward, as the brain/ machine interfaces mature, the inputs will go directly into the brain instead of through the senses.” How the messages will travel from your smart phone into your brain is not clear, however.
VR is also finding its way into business applications. Here’s how Kevin Cardona, head of innovation at BNP Paribas, said it benefits their company: “We are truly convinced that we need to invest in the technology because it will help us to be a company active in 50 countries around the world with clients all over the world.”