Predicting the Future of the Internet – 11/15/2020 – Ronaldo Lemos

Last week, a Harvard University professor was at an event in Brazil who has a habit of making his predictions about the future of the chain. Jonathan Zittrain spoke at an event organized by HSM that usually brings some of the most interesting thinkers in technology to the country.

In 1996, Zittrain co-founded the Berkman Center at Harvard, a pioneering institution for network studies. He was a professor at Oxford and Stanford and a member of the major technical organizations that built the Internet.

Its characteristic is to combine training as a lawyer with a deep knowledge of technical issues. I owe him a lot. I was your student at Harvard and the Berkman Center. His work has shaped a generation of people who are trying to follow in his footsteps.

Zittrain wrote works that turned out to be successful exercises in Futurism. While most researchers were optimistic about the future of the network, in 2008 he published the book “The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It”. The book is a moral story about what would happen on the internet in the years to come.

Zittrain predicted how the free and open network established in the 2000s would be exposed to threats that would change its foundations. These threats, which include cybersecurity issues in the event of coordinated attacks, would create a movement of centralization and control that has been proven to be true.

In addition, in 2014 Zittrain wrote the groundbreaking article “Engineering an Election”. In the text he warned about how the movement of centralization and control of the network could be manipulated to alter the election results.

The embryo of the practices that took place in electoral processes in several countries in the years that followed – including election rigging and repression – has already been seen in your text.

What is Zittrain working on right now? Well worth looking at because he usually gets his projections right. He worked with the idea of ​​”information trustees”. Trust is a word that means “trust”. This can be seen, for example, in the relationship between doctors and patients, lawyers and clients, and in other professions in which the professional is obliged to act in the interests of those who hire him and not in his own interest or in the interests of others.

For example, real estate agents in the United States must tell their customers whether they are working in the best interests of the buyer or the seller. In this way they reveal whose “trustee” they are.

Zittrain’s idea is that this concept also applies to personal data and information in general. It would create platforms, for example, whose primary commitment is to their users and to zealously and maximizing the usefulness of their data and information.

This concept can help rethink the way the Internet is organized today. Who knows, a new generation of organizations may even emerge to act as custodians of data and information and “brokers” of these elements for the benefit of users. There are already startups and initiatives that do just that, but there are only a few.

Only the future can say whether Zittrain will be right again in his projections.


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