The early predecessors to the internet only served to connect a handful of “super computers” and did not have any features beyond connecting those computers. Very quickly things began to change. Initially the emphasis was on developing a network of science oriented computing centers. Before very long, business computers began to interconnect so that business oriented information could be communicated.
The internet was functioning by the mid 1990s and was in the so-called web 2.0 state of being by the end of the 1990s. This stage of the internet gave rise to collaborative sites. Social sites, websites, and many other collaborative internet phenomena are characteristics of web 2.0. It should be noted that there is no clear consensus as to what Web 2.0 is or if there is any such thing as web 2.0.
By 2008 at least some people were beginning to talk about Web 3.0. There seems to be even more disagreement about what this means than about the meaning of Web 2.0. Two concepts about 3.0 do seem to be common.
The two most common concepts seem to be that more of the innovation forming the new web will come from big players such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple rather than from the collective intelligence of the web (a major characteristic of Web 2.0) and the concept of the semantic web.
The semantic web will be the result of developing a common language for the internet that allows for more powerful web searches by making it possible for search engines to look at a broad range of information based on generalized human language queries. The emergence of HTML5 is a major factor in the emergence of a semantic web.
HTML5 is largely an attempt to produce a single language capable of allowing both humans and devices such as computers and virtual devices such as browsers to understand the information in a wide range of media. In other words, HTML5 should allow a browser such as Google Chrome to look at a photograph and understand what the photograph is about. SEO will soon require images as well as words.
One of the current directions the new web seems to be moving in is to allow a person to co-ordinate a wide range of personal information and available public information to allow for such internet based queries as “What should I do for dinner tonight?” Your web-browser would be able to look at a great deal of personal data and information about various dining options. Weather and traffic conditions and budget considerations would all be considered. For many people, alarm bells are ringing. Herbert Hoover would have loved such a scenario. Civil rights advocates see much to fear.
Serious metaphysical questions lurk beneath the surface of the question of the direction in which the internet is heading. If you search the web for information about web3 you will find references to artificial intelligence and what is referred to as “the Technical Singularity”, a point at which there is an emergence of “super intelligence” which is somehow linked with human consciousness.
The question of the potential nature of artificial intelligence involves the question of whether artificial intelligence can occur in a digital computer or if it will require the development of quantum computers. Many computer scientists adhere to the concept of the Turing machine, based on the assumption that all questions can be answered yes or no. The quantum model of intelligence rejects that assumption.
Google has recently opened a quantum computing lab based on the assumption that web3 will require quantum computers. Quantum computers can theoretically test all possible answers to a question simultaneously and reject any incorrect answers. Quantum switches (an essential component of a quantum computer) do not have on/off positions as do classical switches. They also have “maybe” positions. Perhaps the supposed singularity lies just ahead.