The advance of technological possibilities on the Internet cannot be stopped: Since the beginnings of the Internet with still rather limited possibilities, the World Wide Web has constantly evolved thanks to innovations such as social media, online games and interactions complex. This article deals with a historical overview, which eventually leads to Web 4.0 and therefore to the future with many possibilities and still unanswered questions.
Web 1.0: users and network remain separate
The early days of the Internet are considered almost magical times. After Tim Berners-Lee, an employee of CERN’s Geneva research center, invented the World Wide Web in 1989, researchers around the world were fascinated. On April 30, 1993, CERN released the first public website. Users can still view them today on the institution’s website.
As advanced as the Web was at the time, its capabilities were limited. Websites could be linked by hyperlinks, search engines did not exist. As a result, it was extremely difficult for the user to find certain content.
Moreover, Web 1.0 did not have its own dynamics or intelligence, but only responded to information input by users. These, in turn, were rare because the majority of internet users at the time were readers, not content creators. Rapidly changing content and websites did not exist in the age of Web 1.0.
Web 2.0: man dives into the web
With the entry into the Web 2.0 phase, the World Wide Web has become more and more open to its users. Now not only experts could create websites and feed content, but also private users. The concept of MySpace, extremely innovative at the time, is considered a pioneer in the world of social media today.
This continued to grow during the Web 2.0 era and blossomed into more and more colorful. Complex social networks such as Facebook have emerged and entertainment websites such as online games have proliferated. People have gained experience in the first online casino and the buzzword “friendliness” has come to mean. With Web 2.0, the Internet has entered the center of daily life with ever more comfortable, dynamic and flexible possibilities.
Web 3.0: Internet becomes a complex interaction
Web 3.0 is also known as the Semantic Web. The average Internet user today knows the functions of this level of development and accesses them with a high degree of self-awareness. What distinguishes Web 3.0 from Web 2.0 is the emergence of its own intelligence. Machine-readable content, which aims to promote and enable the development and implementation of artificial intelligence, is playing an increasingly important role.
User experience in Web 3.0 is therefore determined by content that intelligently adapts to the user. Social media algorithms and interest-based ads are just two of many examples. From reading to reading and writing, the Web 3.0 user can now use a system that also acts independently of commands.
At the same time, technological tools are becoming increasingly small, light and mobile. Intel only recently showed how small processors can already be today. Smartphones, tablets, notebooks and connected watches mark a significant step towards Web 4.0 which is slowly looming on the horizon. In the era of Web 3.0, the mobile network is beginning to take precedence over fixed uses. This is also proven by official figures. The proportion of mobile internet users was around 54% in 2015 and increased to 80% in 2020.
Web 3.0 is also increasingly capable of understanding and processing human language. Smart home systems with voice input show this clearly. A mutual relationship between humans and AI almost seems to develop through language assistants. An indication that Web 4.0 is not far away.
Web 4.0: the future without borders
A lot of people talk about Internet 4.0 these days, but what they really mean is Web 3.0. The network has not yet reached the next level. Only the first hints of what is still to come for humanity in a numerical sense are slowly appearing.
In Web 4.0, the human is no longer the writing part, but assumes the role of recipient. The network then has such a complex artificial intelligence that it actively prepares, processes and makes the data available. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: Web 4.0 will be able to recognize emotions, perform extensive processes fully automatically, and transform virtual reality into an almost equivalent living environment. Wearables are becoming as normal as ordinary clothes.
The network becomes practically an integral part of the user and vice versa, since increasingly small terminals and increasingly diverse functions allow each step to be in contact with the virtual world. Cryptocurrencies, which are not yet accepted in mainstream society today, may become the norm in the future. This gives insight into the ongoing shift from physical things to the virtual world.
Artificial intelligence will make it possible to build quasi-organic systems in which machines control themselves through communication and complex decision-making schemes. This raises questions that can certainly mean dilemmas. Technological progress, virtual reality and an increasingly dominant sense of the “machine” must also be able to survive on ethical ground.
Featured Image: NASA on Unsplash
Image 1: Adem AY on Unsplash
Image 2: Alex Knight on Unsplash