The Internet in 2025: Experts Share their Thoughts

What will the internet be like in 2025? This was the question asked by the Pew Research Center in a survey in recognition of the internet turning 2025.

Here we share the answers of ten of the industry’s leading experts, including researchers, academics and programmers.

Marc Rotenberg

President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center


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I hope there will be greater openness, more democratic participation, less centralized control, and greater freedom. But there is nothing predetermined about that outcome. Economic and political forces in the United States are pulling in the opposite direction.

So, we are left with a central challenge: will the Internet of 2025 be a network of freedom and opportunity or the infrastructure of social control? In the words of Thomas Edison, “What man creates with his hand, he should control with his head.”

Stowe Boyd

Lead researcher for GigaOM Research


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The web will be the single most foundational aspect of people’s lives in 2025. People’s companion devices — the 2025 equivalent of today’s phones and tablets — will be the first thing they touch in the morning and the last thing they put down to sleep. In fact, some people will go so far as to have elements of their devices embedded. The AI-mediated, goggle-channeled social interactions of the near future will be as unlike what we are doing today, as today’s social web is to what came before.

John Markoff

Senior writer for the New York Times Science section


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What happens the first time you answer the phone and hear from your mother or a close friend, but it’s actually not, and instead, it’s a piece of malware that is designed to social engineer you. What kind of a world will we have crossed over into? I basically began as an Internet utopian… but I have since realized that the technical and social forces that have been unleashed by the microprocessor hold out the potential of a very dystopian world that is also profoundly inegalitarian.

Jonathan Grudin

Principal researcher for Microsoft Research


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The most significant impact of the Internet is that, by making so much activity visible, it exposes the gap between the way we think people behave, the way we think they ought to behave, the laws and regulations and policies and processes and conventions we have developed to guide behavior — and the way they really behave… Adjusting to this will be an unending, difficult task.

Vint Cerf

Google vice president and chief Internet evangelist


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We may finally get to Internet voting, but only if we have really strong authentication methods available. Privacy must be improved but transparency about what information is retained about users also has to increase. More business will be born online with a global market from the beginning. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) will become important revenue streams.

Mike Liebhold

Senior researcher and distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future


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The Internet is morphing from the global library into the global supercomputer. By 2025, almost every application or service we can imagine will be enhanced by the application of enormous computation enabling widespread applications of capabilities like mining, inference, recognition, sense-making, rendering modeling as well as proactive contextual computing.

Tiffany Shlain

Creator of the AOL series The Future Starts Here and founder of The Webby Awards


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Access to the Internet will be a international human right. The diversity of perspectives from all different parts of the globe tackling some of our biggest problems will lead to breakthroughs we can’t imagine on issues such as poverty, inequality, and the environment.

Fred Baker

Internet pioneer and Cisco Systems Fellow


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The issues in security and privacy will have been improved in important ways, but will remain threats, primarily because human nature will not have changed, and there is always a percentage of people who seek to harm others.

Paul Saffo

Managing director of Discern Analytics and consulting associate professor at Stanford


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The pressures to balkanize the global Internet will continue and create new uncertainties. Governments will become more skilled at blocking access to unwelcome sites.

Seth Finkelstein

Prominent longtime programmer and consultant


When one combines Free Trade ideology with the ease of information flow, the entities which deal in data and content and associated items are going to need to have a set of agreements that work for the breadth of the Internet (assuming the world doesn’t fragment into isolated areas, which seems very unlikely in the modern economy).


Is the Internet Changing Us by Stealth?

The internet is changing our behaviour and lives in ways that we do not yet fully recognise, according to respondents of a global survey by the Pew Research Center.

The survey, which was published in a report entitled “Digital Life in 2025” to commemorate 25 years of the internet, collated views about how we will be interacting with the internet in 11 years time.

Although there were many positive views about the impact of the internet, largely based around educational access, health awareness and political engagement, concerns were raised about the technology slowly dehumanising us.

“Our lives will be lived in a combination of virtual and physical spaces, and it will feel completely normal for most of us… The Internet is us and we are it,” said Paris School of Business senior lecturer in marketing and communications Elizabeth Albrycht in her survey response.

“There will not be any big ‘event’ of adoption — we’ll just naturally move there. Many of us are already close,” she added. “The benefits are too big, too obvious to think otherwise. These include the ability to stay alive longer as healthy people. Who would say no to that?”


“Our lives will be lived in a combination of virtual and physical spaces, and it will feel completely normal for most of us.”


One of the most universal opinions from respondents, both from those with positive and negative viewpoints, was how normal and enmeshed in everyday life the internet would become.

A database configuration specialist and risk assessment analyst who chose to remain anonymous summarised the mood: “By 2025 use of the Internet will be as routine as breathing. It will change from something you decide to use to something you simply use.”

This leads to concerns about the nature of privacy in a world where the internet dominates. As one scholar of online communications put it: ““We will be always connected, no matter where we are or what we’re doing: always reachable, never unavailable. What will happen to alone time? Solitude? Thought?”

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In particular there were many fears about a loss of skills as a direct result of increased humanity. One anonymous professor from Grand Valley State University said: “The internet is turning people into machines.”

A futurist and consultant who chose to remain nameless questioned the impact on people’s ability to think critically: “My fear is that people will become so reliant on the data on the Internet that they will be unable to judge the difference between good data or false, limited, possibly-slanted information. People may be surrendering their ability to think and judge.”

One Universidade Estadual Paulista doctoral student in information science took this further: “With everyone looking for the next gadget to consume, humanity will be in a state of global dumbness.”


“The internet is turning people into machines.”


It is possible that such fears are not without basis – humanity has experienced significant changes since the advent of the internet 25 years ago, and many of the biggest social effects, such as how we communicate with one another, have occurred without us considering their impact.

However, it is not entirely fair to say that we do not realise we are being changed – you only have to think back to your life before you got the internet to appreciate the impact it has had.