A Pew Internet & American Life Project survey of internet leaders, activists, and analysts shows that a majority agree with predictions that by 2020:
A low-cost global network will be thriving and creating new opportunities in a “flattening” world. Humans will remain in charge of technology, even as more activity is automated and “smart agents” proliferate. However, a significant 42% of survey respondents were pessimistic about humans’ ability to control the technology in the future. This significant majority agreed that dangers and dependencies will grow beyond our ability to stay in charge of technology. This was one of the major surprises in the survey. Virtual reality will be compelling enough to enhance worker productivity and also spawn new addiction problems. Tech “refuseniks” will emerge as a cultural group characterized by their choice to live off the network. Some will do this as a benign way to limit information overload, while others will commit acts of violence and terror against technology-inspired change. People will wittingly and unwittingly disclose more about themselves, gaining some benefits in the process even as they lose some privacy. English will be a universal language of global communications, but other languages will not be displaced. Indeed, many felt other languages such as Mandarin, would grow in prominence.