As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the world wide web this year, inventor Tim Berners-Lee took to the stage at IPEXPO Europe in London this morning to share his vision for the next 25 years with the IT community.
In his impassioned speech he laid out what he called 'instructions not predictions' for the future of the web and data, and how we must continue to work hard to keep the Web a decentralised platform
'When the Web first started, no one could imagine that you could click on a link and go to anything in the world,' said Berners-Lee. 'What started out as simple html documents linked together has become dynamic. The value and excitement of the Web is what we can build on it, and the mindblowing creativity it has enabled over the last 25 years. But to continue to do that we must keep fighting to keep it a platform without central control.'
As the pace of innovation continues to get faster, what will be most important is not the speed of communications networks, but the development of 'smarter' computing, said Berners-Lee. The potential of artificial intelligence is a key part of this that is only just now beginning to be realised.
But apart from the technology revolution, there will need to be a turnaround in the way people, the Web and data work in a social sense.
Berners-Lee described the use of big data on the web as a 'marvel' but said consumers are still struggling with a 'queasy feeling' when met with targeted advertising, and the foundation of trust and control must come first.
'I want to build a world in which I'm in control of my own data,' he said. 'As an individual I should have the legal ownership of that data and should be able to sell it when I see fit. If we allow individuals that control and understanding of the way their data is used, it will open up huge opportunities to build apps and make use of that data, as they'll be much more happy to open up that data for important benefits.'
Berners-Lee went on to forsee how the future lies not in big data but in 'rich' data. To enable the 'new world' of data we will need to build systems that are not only powerful but able to handle endless different types of data from different sources combined in novel and useful ways.
Once these building blocks are put in place, big data could have wide-ranging applications not just in business, but could be powerfully transformative in areas such as healthcare, democracy and economics.
Berners-Lee's speech was the first of over 300 seminars at IPEXpo Europe– Europe's biggest cloud and IT infrastructure event kicking off today at ExCeL London.
The event showcases more than 300 exhibitors over two days and will host expert speakers from companies including Microsoft and Cloudera.