Inventor of the World Wide Web Warns of One Key Problem With What It Has Become

Nov 1, 2018  •  Post A Comment

The computer scientist credited as the inventor of the Web says there’s one big thing wrong with the Internet today: It has enabled a few giant tech firms, such as Facebook and Google, to amass too much power.

“Tim Berners-Lee, a London-born computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989, said he was disappointed with the current state of the Internet, following scandals over the abuse of personal data and the use of social media to spread hate,” Reuters reports.

“The digital revolution has spawned a handful of U.S.-based technology companies since the 1990s that now have a combined financial and cultural power greater than most sovereign states,” Reuters notes, adding: “Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have a combined market capitalization of $3.7 trillion, equal to Germany’s gross domestic product last year.”

Said Berners-Lee: “What naturally happens is you end up with one company dominating the field so through history there is no alternative to really coming in and breaking things up. There is a danger of concentration.”

But he urged caution, adding: “Before breaking them up, we should see whether they are not just disrupted by a small player beating them out of the market, but by the market shifting, by the interest going somewhere else.”

One Comment

  1. There are frequently ethical conundrums associated with innovation and technical advancement. The obvious one is the splitting of the atom and its use in the development of warfare and Robert Oppenheimer’s declaration “Now I become death, the destroyer of worlds…” It is postulated that Albert Nobel created the Nobel prize in part so that his legacy wouldn’t be strictly that he had invented dynamite and his involvement in the armaments industry. In an article in the August 26, 1950 issue of The Saturday Review of Literature, author Millard C. Faught notes that ‘the sundered atom is far behind the television tube as the greatest new technological influence on the daily lives of millions of Americans.” One invention leaves the laboratory and moves into everyday life, the inventor(s) have no control over how their invention will be used or misused and they often experience remorse, regret and even guilt over their part when their creation is used in ways they had not intended. While I agree that there is a danger in a few large companies control access to the internet, much of the harm that I see being done is coming from the users generating the hateful messages and combative rhetoric that is so prevalent. As a child I learned a very simple tenet, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Religious connotations aside, it seems to me that if people, businesses and governments followed this simple philosophy, we would all be better off.

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