The original creator of the internet believes that we have gone down the wrong path and is looking to change how the entire internet works with his company, Inrupt. Sir Tim Berners-Lee states that the internet as we see it today has deviated from his original vision when he created the world wide web in 1989, giving too much power to corporations and not enough to each individual user.
In an attempt to change that, Inrupt will package each individual’s data into “pods”, which websites will have to request to access instead of simply taking the data as they do now. Such a system, according to Berners-Lee, is the true future of the internet.
The problem, according to Berners-Lee, lies in control. The original idea for the internet was that each individual has their own data, and their own servers that host their own website. Swiftly, though, large websites took over and began siphoning data from every user who logs in – every time you make an account, agree to cookies, even make a simple Google search, you are providing data to a larger entity. What if, instead, our data was stored locally and websites had to request access to it each time? There would be no more accounts, just a single account that you could allow each website permission to utilize.
Inrupt would store this data in pods and allow websites access to your silo of data with your permission. No more data leaks involving millions of users, no more forgetting passwords, just one easy system. It would be built on an open protocol called Solid, which already uses pods to store data.
An integral part of the plan involves AI, which is having quite the popularity surge currently. However, while most of us have access to AIs that are hosted elsewhere, Inrupt plans on every user on the internet having an individual AI – everyone gets their own Cortana, just like Halo. The AI would then be given access to all the data within your pod, where it would become tailored to you. It could help with fitness, make good product suggestions instead of random Instagram ads – it would quite literally be your own personal assistant.
“Sometimes you have the whole data spectrum – all of the data to do with your collaborations and your coffees and your projects and your dreams. And the books you’re reading and... all of your life, then that is in your pod. You run AI on that. That could be sweet,” Berners-Lee said on a recent podcast episode, as reported by CNBC.
Obviously, reinventing the internet would take time, and there are certainly drawbacks. Security breaches of your pod, while much less likely to happen, would result in every bit of your data becoming available to invaders, posing a scary prospect to people in public-facing positions.
It also begs the question of where the pods and AI would be hosted – would Inrupt host every single person’s data, or would they be hosted locally? Not everyone has access to hardware that can handle an AI assistant. Inrupt appear to sell servers that would take care of the hard work, but large-scale adoption of an undoubtedly expensive system would take decades.
Still, with Berners-Lee's credentials, it really is hard to doubt him.