Tim Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist. In main, he is famous for being the inventor of the World Wide Web. However, Berners-Lee has made other important contributions as well, with an excellent example being his creation of the first web browser. Even now, he remains very much involved with the field of computer science, as shown by the fact that he is a professor at both the University of Oxford and MIT. Never mind the fact that he holds a number of other important positions at other well-respected institutions. Under these circumstances, it seems reasonable to say that Berners-Lee is someone whose opinion is worth listening to when it comes to the Internet and Internet-related matters.
What Are the Problems that Tim Berners-Lee Has Described?
As for Berners-Lee's opinion of what the Internet has become in the present time, well, suffice to say that he believes that it has some rather serious issues. In short, Berners-Lee recognizes that the Internet has become a remarkable range of things for a remarkable range of people, but he believes that it has become rife with issues that will need to be combated by governments, businesses, and even consumers.
With that said, the issues that Berners-Lee have pointed out shouldn't come as a surprise to most people who have been paying close attention to what is being said about the Internet in recent times. In his view, said issues can be sorted into three categories. First, there are issues born of malicious intent, which include incidents such as online harassment, criminal activities carried out through the Internet, and state-sponsored cyber-attacks. Second, there are issues born of systems with perverse incentives, with an excellent example being the increase in misinformation because of how advertising revenue models have been set up in a manner that encourages clickbait. Third, there are issues born of systems with unintended negative consequences, with an excellent example being the hostile nature of a substantial chunk of online discourse.
What Does Tim Berners-Lee Believe Need to Be Done to Correct These Problems?
Berners-Lee has teamed up with the Web Foundation to reveal a set of principles that they believe will be capable of curbing the worst of the Internet's more harmful effects. In total, there are nine principles, which are sorted into three categories based on whether they are meant for governments, for businesses, or for consumers. First, governments should make sure that everyone can connect to the Internet, make sure that everyone has full access rather than limited access to the Internet, and respect people's right to privacy so that they can use the Internet in the free manner of their choosing. Second, companies should make access to the Internet affordable for everyone, respect people's privacy so that they can retain control over their own lives, and focus on developing technologies that can be used to support that which is best in humans while holding back our less admirable qualities. Third, consumers are supposed to create cool content, build strong and welcoming communities, and fight to ensure that these principles continue to be upheld even once they have been implemented.
On the whole, there are worse principles out there. However, it is important to remember that these principles are nothing but principles, meaning that they will need to be translated into meaningful actions for them to take effect. With that said, there are already various parties working on various principles to various extents. For example, there are already governments that are putting considerable time, effort, and other resources into encourage Internet use among their populations. Likewise, there are already companies that have been developing technologies to make Internet use better for everyone rather than, say, their enrichment even when it comes at the expense of the consumers. On top of this, there are plenty of places on the Internet that exist because of people who have come together to create welcoming communities, which must be maintained through constant exertion.
Having said this, it is difficult to imagine a future in which all of the relevant parties will agree with all of the principles that have been listed here. Still, that doesn't mean that these principles aren't worth striving towards. In fact, it might even be healthier to see them as directions to move in rather than destinations to be reached, meaning that each piece of progress made will still be a piece of progress made.
Written by Garrett Parker
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