A Summary of Fujitsu Chief Technology Officer, Vivek Mahajan interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee 

World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave a keynote speech at the Fujitsu ActivateNow Technology Summit.

He discussed some of the problems with the internet today, improving online privacy, how the web can contribute to a more sustainable world, and many other pertinent topics.

Question: What inspired the vision of “A web of shared benefit, for everyone” and at what point did this vision become world-changing?

  • The web should be for anything and anyone, and not limited to one particular system or network. There wasn’t a single point in which he had felt that he had “made” it or that the job was done.
  • There is slightly more than half the world using the web, but we need to work to make sure that we provide it to the other half. We cannot relax until they have a web that is useful and productive.

Question: What are the key problems with the Web today?

  • The web has producer-level benefits especially with the recent pandemic and working from home requiring a web connection. In recent elections, it shows that the web can be used as a way to manipulate the public. Most people today believe misinformation is a big issue with the web.

Question: Why is online privacy such a problem?

  • People’s data is being used in an inappropriate way. The way in which our data is stored by the social networks we use is limited. The inability for people to be able to use their data in the ways they want is a big issue. Our data is stored in “Data Silos” and we have no way of getting it out.
  • Newer systems and software are asking the user where we would like to store this data so that it puts more power in the users’ hands in terms of where their information is saved.
  • “Solid pods” would be a way of letting the user take control of their data and storing their own information. This concept would flip the protocol and allow the users to store their own data rather than the big companies.

Question: In what ways can the web contribute to being a more sustainable world, and why do you feel so strongly about the web being a human right?

  • Mutual trust between institutions and citizens gives power to the user. Building a foundation on trust allows for the user to open up and share their information with the institutions. This method is much more respectable while still arriving at the same destination.

Question: What do you see as the key technologies for the next 10 years and what are you excited about?

  • The web becoming more mature, and growing from just a web of documents to an interactive web where you can communicate with others
  • The data spectrum is what the web needs to focus on. The spectrum of public vs private data and how it is utilized is very important.

Question: In terms of solving social problems of our time, what are the potential for these technologies and what do you imagine the future of the internet to look like?

  • Currently, AI works for the company that created it. A future would be where the AI is purchased and it works for the consumer. In the future, AI would not exploit the user’s data and milk them for everything they give to the technology.
  • The future will be transparent from an ethics point of view.
  • Allow users to know if the information they’re being fed is being altered or manipulated in any way.

Question: What advice would you give that will help enable us to use technology to achieve our vision of making the world more sustainable and building trust in society through innovation?

  • Adding another layer, the “solid” layer to the internet protocol is a huge step for innovation. Helping set standards and make sure all the standards and code that are produced work with the open standards. There is still much work to be done at the application level of standards. As we build new levels we must be respectful of the users.
  • A goal would be to build a platform of applications for us to be able to communicate and collaborate to solve huge issues such as climate change or cure cancer.