A survey of 750 of the world’s leading “futurists” has revealed a largely negative view of how the Internet will affect our lives by the year 2020. According to the research, we’ll have less access to the Internet because of limitations imposed by governments. The futurists also believe addiction to online virtual reality will be a major difficulty and that the Internet will be a hotbed for the production of terrorism. So, shall we all give up now? Of course not. This pessimistic view of the Internet is unlikely to come true. True enough, some governments will try to restrict Internet access, some people will get addicted to virtual reality and some people will be able to connect with those who have extremist views. But these kind of things have happened in human society for thousands of years, without the Internet. To suggest that the Internet is going to bring these things about is nonsense. Luckily one Berkeley professor who has commented on the research has said that social norms will iron out the worst excesses of the Internet. And that is right. The psychology of the Internet is little different to the behavioural aspects of human society without the web. We have had addiction, attempts by governments to control us and extremism without the Internet. And besides, futurists once predicted that the microwave oven would spell the end of eating out in restaurants..!

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