The Future of Information Sharing

Video produced by Steve Nathans-Kelly

At Data Summit Connect 2020, Lee Rainie, director, internet and technology research, Pew Research Center, projected the future of information sharing online and its social, cultural, and economic impact as foreseen by analysts and experts surveyed by Pew Research. 

Full videos of Data Summit Connect 2020 presentations are available at

"As we've looked more deeply into the future—say, looking out over the next 10 to 15 years—the analysts and experts we surveyed sounded a number of themes and positive things about what would happen," Rainie said. "They argued that information sharing over the internet would be effortlessly interwoven into daily life. That will make people smarter, safer, and more efficient. And I imagine that lots of you listening to this are in the business of fulfilling those goals."

One of the analysts use the word "communication," which is essentially communication via data which will involve smart agents, he explained. So These smart agents will be dealing with each other, and companies will be able to outsource lots of the logistics and time-consuming parts of jobs to agents that might help plan duties.

"They also talked about the broad awareness that people will have of their world and their own behavior and the benefits that would come from this, especially for improved healthcare," Rainie said. "There was lots of talk about personalized medicine, a lot of talk about population-level studies that might give you insights into disease outbreaks and treatments. And a lot of talking about education. Healthcare and education have been two areas where the applications of technology have been pretty narrow. If you look at the way technology has changed the news business and the publishing business, and so many other businesses, there has not been the same level of dramatic change in health care and education. But these experts say that—especially in the age of data—the transformation of healthcare and the transformation of education will be incredible things to behold and will bring very tangible benefits to people's lives."

As the environment gets more intelligent there are conversations and predictions about smart homes, smart communities, and smart environments.

However, citing the survey Rainie noted worries around privacy abound. Analysts are worried about the impact of AI  ion the labor markets, and the broad cultural expectations there are about people being gainfully employed and finding meaning in their lives.

"In that way they're worried about increased digital divides related to people mastering the technology and moving far ahead of their fellow citizens, not at the same pace, and that that's just a breeding ground for resentment and possible violence," Rainie said. "That's a big thing that they worry about. Of course, any time you bring up technology, a top-of-mind concern is everything getting hacked. Finally, there's talk about human nature and how it's abused by all the new technology technologies that are coming out. They think that the darker sides of human nature get amplified and accelerated by some of the changes that are out there. That's very much on their mind." 


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