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Kevin Kelly: ‘Web will transform future services’

Kelly explained that over the past half-century, humanity has undergone a transformation of how we think and interact

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The inevitable shift from traditional hierarchy structures toward decentralized networks will transform how humans relate to technology and with each other, Kevin Kelly, founding executive director of Wired magazine, said on the opening day of the Government Summit here.

“Throughout history, there have been a number of inevitable shifts,” Kelly said. “At the same time Thomas Edison was developing the light bulb, some 32 inventors were experimenting with their prototypes. While we cannot predict the exact details of how we will get there or who will lead the way, there are a number of inevitable breakthroughs we can look forward to over the next 10 to 20 years.”

Kelly explained that over the past half-century, humanity has undergone a transformation of how we think and interact. Information flowed in one direction, he outlined, from the top down to the bottom. With the advent of cheaper, faster, and better connectivity, society has evolved away from strict authoritarian structures toward looser peer-to-peer networks where information flows freely.

“There have been three phases of personal computing,” Kelly said. “The first phase sought to replicate an office environment – file storage, word processing, and organizational tasks. The second phase saw a shift toward greater connectivity and communication. Today, we are in the midst of a third phase of interaction, where this connectivity has extended to our physical world.”

Just as we have learned to interact with information in our online world, Kelly explained, this emerging Internet of Everything will deliver products and services on demand. This connectivity can be seen from its nascent stage with popular ride-sharing mobile applications such as Lyft or Uber, to higher concept medical scanning and diagnostic software for smartphones.

“Since the invention of the light bulb over a century ago, we have added electricity to nearly every aspect of our lives,” Kelly outlined. “Our next step will be to add connectivity and intelligence in the same way. In order to manage effectively, governments must reflect our new reality. Governments of the future must be as fluid and dynamic as the society they oversee has become.”

The role of governments in our age of connectivity will be to function as an enabler and facilitator of innovation, he noted. Governments must keep pace with technology so that they can legislate and nurture development and innovation.

“It’s time to believe in the impossible,” Kelly concluded, “because the greatest innovations of the next century haven’t even been imagined yet.”— SG