IGF 2019 Pre-Event #38 Imagining the Next ‎‎50 Years of Digital Life‎

Pew Research Center and Elon University


Pew Research Center and Elon University will present the findings from the latest “Imagining the Internet” report, which marks the 50th anniversary of the first host-to-host Internet connection, which took place October 29, 1969. Imagining the Internet and the Pew Research Internet & Technology Project have been engaged in global technology policy research for more than 20 years. They have partnered in dozens of studies to which hundreds of Internet Governance Forum participants have made important contributions.

Pew and Elon recently canvassed technology thought leaders from around the world, asking them to describe how digital life will change over the next 50 years. The results of this particular qualitative study, which is scheduled for a November 2019 release, include insights from more than 450 participants, ranging from corporate policy professionals to Internet Hall of Fame engineers to leaders of global civil society organizations and individual members of civil society on topics such as: the likely future integration of technology into peoples’ lives; changes in available applications and features built on Internet-enabled platforms; and the potential new rules, laws and innovations in engineering that may emerge over the next half century. 

This Day Zero event will focus the legal and ethical conundrums that arise from the expansion of connectivity, shifting political and social power structures, and quality-of-life issues. The results of this research reflect this time as an inflection point; a crossroads in regard to the potentials and pitfalls of digital growth. These expert respondents said the decisions made today will have enormous influence in shaping the Internet of tomorrow.

The session will introduce the research findings and include commentary from several IGF participants who participated in the research and others who will contribute to a lively discussion on digital futures.

The session is planned for 120 minutes, and can accommodate anywhere from 50 to 200 attendees in a flexible room set up to enable comments from those invited as respondents, but also interactive engagement with participants.

The organizers will distribute a one- to two-page high-level outline of the findings and an invitation to participants. In addition, we are inviting the NRIs and Youth Initiatives to join this session as observers and participants from the floor.