A few years back when I was at school, we made the prognosis that genetic engineering will be the topic of the next years. It was not. No human clone exists yet, as well as no lab disaster with new super-resistant man-eating eggplants
. It is still plausible that something like this can happen soon or later, but so far, it has not. There were some rumours about it, but it was not the big topic of these years.
The really big topic was definitely the internet, and the many new gadgets that evolved. So much seems to have changed. While back in my day™ - which is not that long ago yet - the greatest technical threat for the teachers' precious blabber were alarms of digital watches, it seems to be considered normal today that pupils are using their laptops, tablets and smartphones.
However, while the prognosis about the big topic turned out to be wrong, many prognoses about the internet did not. One of my teachers compared the weird situation of everybody being able to publish everything and the difficulties of checking it to the "Wild West", which may be regulated someday. Another one claimed that education will focus more on teaching how to get
information required for some task, rather than building a huge
collection of knowledge. Wikipedia puts lots of efforts into the quality of its source material, and people learned to distinguish between claims and quotes (which is, for example, a claim, since I have no evidence for this).
But since then, journalists are also questioned more, because people learned that not everything a journalist sais must be correct, journalists are no longer the masters of information anymore, and this takes a lot of possibilities for regulation away from the state.
And now, we have Anonymous, we have DuckDuckGo
advertising for VanishingRights.com
, we have an Internet Defense League
, we have projects like Tor
, and even Google requests "Verteidige dein Netz"
(defend your net).
Maybe in 50 years the people will wonder whether we had no other problems. Or they will look back and wish to have lived in that glorious time. We cannot know what actually happens. The internet is different to what people imagined 20 years ago, there is much more chaos than one would have expected. On the other hand, there are much more possibilities than one would have expected, like people with smartphones who are online virtually always, and cheap real-time-communication to huge parts of the world with only a little gadget.
One may argue that the internet on the whole is a bad thing. However, it is there, and it will probably stay there, and it has already influenced most of us somehow. We have something new with which we have no experience. These times are weird.