Forget Neuromancer, Global Warming and that Maya End Of The World Thing. Here are my predictions for the next 40 years.
1. Use of the internet will be a lot like driving: Citizens will be required to get a license to use it (except for kiddie sites) and be subject to fines for abusing the privilege.
2. Everyone will be required to have insurance of two kinds:
a) Liability for hurting others
b) Protection against damage you suffer
3. Since there will be no paper records, there will be an FDIC or FEMA like organisation which provides insurance to everyone for data loss as a result of outages, disasters or crimes. ISPs and Big Data will pay into a super-fund to cover this, just as banks currently do for investor deposits.
4. There will be a national ID; embedded in your cell phone, which you will be required to carry at all times.
5. You will not expect to have anything like privacy because every transaction you do on-line (which will be basically anything from a phone call, web page, msg or purchase) will not require a warrant to be viewable or subject to fine. When the authorities access your data it will be like a ‘red-light camera’. They will be required to inform you that they accessed your data, but this will be in the form of a receipt or ticket you receive after the fact.
6. Big Data will be regulated like a utility. But they will remain private corporations. They won’t be allowed to shut you off without some sort of notice and due process. In fact, you will never be totally ‘cut off’; just limited to the sites necessary to continue to be monitored.
7. It will be accepted practice that your ISP can limit, with a high degree of granularity, the sites and services each individual can access. You will have a right to an audit of which sites/services are limited and by whom. If you suspect you are being prevented from ‘seeing’ certain data/services you will be able to get a FOIA court order to find out.
8. You will be required to have a bank account linked to your national ID for the payment of all fees, just as you do now with your cell phone. Any taxes or fines you owe will be debited automatically.
9. The Supreme Court will rule that the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments conform to the above, recognising that the world is now so dependent on e-activity that any other approach is unreasonable.
10. An adult born in 2013 will have no problem with any of the above.
Bonus Prediction: Every piece of personal on-line data you ever generated will be available to every other person. Only large institutions and governments will have the ability to shield themselves from this. Many private companies will spring up to provide data privacy, though with limited success. The big players in this space will likely be companies that currently provide home security (eg. ADP.)
Double Plus Good Bonus Prediction: Since everyone will be able to know everything everyone has ever done, this will have a profound effect on morality. Simply put: no matter one’s age. it will be impossible to re-invent or re-brand oneself because no matter where you go everyone will already know about it. Almost every human being has secrets that are readily accepted by friends once they get to know you, but are instant dis-qualifiers if known ahead of time. This being the case, it will require a complete re-think of the concept of ‘forgiveness’.