[Futurist Forum] 5 Ways The Internet Will Revolutionize Work And Play By 2025

For all the ways the Internet has changed how we live and work over the last 20 years, there are still plenty of areas it hasn’t touched, and plenty more where it hasn’t been as revolutionary as predicted. (Futurists in the ’90s said we’d all be making virtual commutes by now. Most of us are still waiting.)

One limiting factor has been connectivity speeds, which haven’t grown to allow for more sophisticated services and, in the U.S., have even fallen behind other nations. The current U.S. average connection speed is 10.5 megabits per second (Mbps) compared to speeds of up to 23.6 Mbps in South Korea, the nation with the best speeds.

But what happens when we do finally get fiber into every home? That’s the subject of a new report from the Pew Research Center, which asked 1,464 experts to make predictions for what might become possible with speeds 50 to 100 times faster than what we have now. Below are a few ideas we picked out.

Less travel

Many respondents said telepresencing will be a reality by 2025, especially for business. “I believe ‘telepresence’ will be a driving application in the workforce, and thus the ability to have multi-person meetings without travel will be enhanced significantly,” says Jim Hendler, a professor of computer science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. People won’t need to travel so much, and we’ll enjoy “truly immersive entertainment and communications,” according to Kathryn Campbell, partner with interactive agency Primitive Spark. She predicts something like the Holodeck, the simulated reality room seen on Star Trek.

Flickr user Sergey Galyonkin

Virtual reality is reality

Dipping into faraway worlds will be easier, due to virtual and augmented reality. System programmer and author David Collier-Brown, expects to take a bus tour of Istanbul from his living room. Alison Alexander, at the University of Georgia, says the “global nature of connectivity could foster an integrated world economy, breaking down the importance of nations and governments.” Bryan Alexander, senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, says life and games will become increasingly intertwined: “We should expect new forms of gaming to emerge, such as ones integrating daily life with games.”

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