When Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in 1989, the dream was to create a connected global village. The inventor's vision was to serve humanity and allow information to thrive.
While the has happened to a degree, the contemporary phrase of the Internet has become muddied. Instead of connecting everyone, algorithms push crowds towards extreme disinformation and constantly manipulate individuals. Unsurprisingly, Berners-Lee isn't happy.
Big Tech has ruined the World Wide Web
Speaking at Fujitsu’s ActivateNow Summit, via TechRadar, the World Wide Web inventor called for tighter restrictions on contemporary Internet. The inventor expressed an unhappiness with the massive power imbalance that has become commonplace online.
Berners-Lee explained his “vision was that the web should be for anything and anyone.” He envisioned a future “independent of computer, network and language was really important... that is actually useful and constructive”. However, modern sensibilities have strayed away from that.
The inventor stated that part of the issue is the way in which private companies manipulate users. For example, an individual’s data is siphoned and sold to advertisers, but users aren't able to use the data that companies take from them. This leads to companies like Facebook, Amazon and many others having power over users.
“Right now, people’s data is being used for inappropriate purposes by large companies, in order to understand and manipulate them,” he said. “Another problem is that all my private data is stored by online platforms and stuck in silos, so I can’t really use it. We have a lack of empowerment of the individual.”
The Solid Solution
Fixing the power imbalance of the World Wide Web will not be an easy task. However, its inventor does have one idea that could help to mitigate some of its issues: Solid Pods.
Berners-Lee’s Solis Pods are proposed to be decentralised data stores of an individual's across the Internet. By partnering with companies, users will be able to see exactly what companies know about them and where that data is going.
“When everything is set up on the basis of trust, the user will also share more powerfully,” Berners-Lee said. “The will share their data not only with doctors, but also with researchers working on cancer treatments, for example. It’s a system based on intentional economics, driven by the intent of the person who wants to do things.”
The World Wide Web inventor explained that Internet services and devices need “to work for the individual.” While that currently is not the case, the inventor hopes that it will be sometime in the future.