The previous industrial revolutions were consecutively powered by steam, electricity and computers. The current fourth one, which in its substance is rather economical, is being advanced by people surfing the internet on their smart phones. In the last five years, the developed world has learned to practically be online at all times. In the past, we went somewhere, took care of what ever needed to be taken care of, and left, but today, for all intents and purposes, we have come to depend on on-line information and services 24/7. For humanity, a new (cyber)space has opened up.
Half of the respondents to a new study by KPMG Česká republika mention that as a result of being constantly online they have “stopped planning ahead and are instead dealing with situations as they occur with the help of their phone.” Three of the four pillars of the fourth revolution rest on the activities and needs of online people: the internet of things (IoT), the internet of services (IoS) and the internet of people (IoP), together the internet of people, things and services (IoPTS), forming the world online. Today’s internet is one huge cyberspace and any kind of separation into intranet and external internet has become obsolete.
To better describe today’s circumstances, let me offer a simple historical analogy: We are currently living in the Middle Ages of cyberspace. These are crude times; cyberspace’s assets are hidden in fortified strongholds and every journey between them is fraught with peril. Trade routes are plagued by beggars, plunderers, bandits, scouts, mercenaries, knight-errants and fanatical heretics and their motivations are manifold. All of them, however, are interested in our valuables, be they financial or intellectual.
In contrast to the physical world, cyberspace knows no privacy and is very poorly regulated. Whereas in most cases, states regulate our tangible environment, in cyberspace their reach is severely limited. Solid and unchangeable state-issued identities in the form of identification cards or personal numbers have on the internet been replaced by entirely commercial freemail services, with email addresses happily traded in by their owners (i.e. users) for ever-new amenities.
Unfortunately, we have yet to learn how to live in these medieval times. What’s worse, attempting to copy history by simply embarking on the exhaustive path to modern times does not seem like a good plan for present generations. We have to act much faster. Life might hence be much more bearable with the following three pieces of advice:
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