NET NEWS: Internet Prognosticators

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Science  19 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5405, pp. 1079
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5405.1079c

Earlier this month, MIT's Sloan business school sealed up an Internet “time capsule”–filled with digital snippets such as Alan Greenspan's Senate testimony in January on Net stock mania, advice on finding kid-safe Web sites, and a page from the online auction eBay. The capsule, an encrypted corner of the Sloan Web site, will be opened in 5 years—an eternity in Web time. “One will marvel at how primitive some of these contents are,” the Sloan site says. But it might be more interesting to check out how the following seers fare in their predictions (among several dozen stowed in the capsule) about what the Internet world will look like in 2004:

“The practice of human medicine will be revolutionized by the continual sensing of [an] individual's biochemistry, and communicating this information via the Internet to large diagnostic servers containing detailed genetic information and medical data.”

–Charles Vest, president of MIT

“The Internet holds the greatest promise humanity has known for long-distance learning and universal access to quality education. … It offers the best chance yet for developing countries to take their rightful place in the global economy. You have only to look at the production of software in India. … And so our mission must be to ensure access as widely as possible. If we do not, the gulf between the haves and the have-nots will be the gulf between the technology-rich and technology-poor.”

–Kofi Annan, secretary-general, United Nations

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