Tuesday March 12, 2019

The Web's Creator Comments on Its Future

The internet turned 30 this year, and CERN celebrated it with a long (and if I'm being honest, not particularly exciting) webcast featuring its creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. However, after the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal and what seems like a new privacy/security related scandal every day since then, Sir Tim is worried about the future of the internet. Today, he published an open letter on the future of the web, noting that "while the web has created opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit." The BBC recently posted an interview with Sir Tim, which you can watch below:

To tackle any problem, we must clearly outline and understand it. I broadly see three sources of dysfunction affecting today's web: Deliberate, malicious intent, such as state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behaviour, and online harassment; System design that creates perverse incentives where user value is sacrificed, such as ad-based revenue models that commercially reward clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation; Unintended negative consequences of benevolent design, such as the outraged and polarised tone and quality of online discourse.

Discussion