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Forecast 2020: Web 3.0+ and Collective Intelligence

“We know what we are, but we know not what we may become”   – Shakespeare

The ancient Chinese curse or saying — “May you live in interesting times.” — is upon us. We are in the midst of a new revolution fueled by advancements in the Internet and technology. Currently, there is an abundance of information and the size of social interaction has reached a colossal scale. Within a span of just one generation, the availability of information and our access to them has changed dramatically from scarcity to surplus. What humans will do or try to do with such powerful surplus of information will be the main topic of this article. First, let’s understand what brought us to this current state. 

Past and Present (Web 1.0 and Web 2.0) 

The best way to explain what Web 2.0 is to compare it to Web 1.0, its earlier version. Web 1.0 is a general reference to the World Wide Web before the developments of advanced Internet collaborative applications. This was the period when the Internet was dominated by companies maintaining heavy and static sites for promotions and marketing. At that time, it was difficult to maintain personal websites.

Afterwards, there was a sudden shift to Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is what many commonly refer to as the Social Web. It is the portion of the Internet that is developed continuously and interactively by participating Internet users. It is commonly associated with web development and web design that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design. Web 2.0 is a catch-all term used to illustrate a variety of developments on the web and a perceived shift in the way the web is utilized. This has been characterized as the evolution of web use from passive consumption of content to more active participation, creation and sharing – to what is sometimes called the read/write web. 

Fast Forward to 10 Years from Now (Web 3.0 and beyond) 

In 10 years, humans and computers will join forces to create “collective intelligence”. Technology will evolve as such that the Internet (and information within it) will be accessible and available to everyone— this will exponentially increase the already massive data we exchange today. How we (and machines) will make sense of as well as analyze and synthesize this collective information, is what will bring us to Web 3.0 and beyond. 

Let’s focus on the resulting element — the “collective intelligence”. Think about it as billions of human brains working using future super computers as a platform. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Srini Devadas described “collective intelligence” as consisting of two pillars: cloud computing and crowd computing. Cloud computing is using the Internet as a platform and making access to information available to everyone. Crowd computing, according to him, involves the analysis of information into “collective intelligence” far beyond what we have today. 

Please refer to the following diagram where I illustrate how man and machines will achieve such an amazing accomplishment. This involves the process of filtering, synthesis, validation and application that will result into “collective intelligence”. 

  • The “Web 2.0 clutter” – the surplus of information – is the raw material for “collective intelligence”.
  • Web 3.0 is essentially the high-quality content resulting from the Web 2.0 mash ups using Web 2.0 technologies as an enabling platform.
  • In the future, more effective “Web 3.0 Filter Services” will allow us to mine billions of gigabytes of information and organize them into sets of knowledge-based containers for synthesis and development.
  • The next filter is the human element- the “facilitators”. This is the cult of experts and gurus. The “future philosophers” in the “future universities”.  I believe they will be highly organized and moderated.
  • They will organize the results (the branch of new thinking) into highly specialized information silos. This output is what I call “new things” or “collective intelligence”.  New Information, New Technologies, New Discoveries, New Knowledge, New Inventions, New Philosophy — New things! 

Obviously this is part thought-experiment and part prophesy. I meant to write this to explain how we got to the present state and where it will lead us in a decade. I am encouraging more conversations about the topic. Feel free to comment and post your ideas.

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