Next generation internet

Written by Spiro Dhapi on 12 July 2017

Next generation internet | Photo credit: Press Association

The internet has already started to reshape our world - how will this look in a few years, asks Spiro Dhapi.

The digital single market strategy has produced numerous initiatives which have had a significant impact in the way citizens, businesses and regulators address a series of aspects within the digital economy, from data protection and cybersecurity, to the cloud and the digital copyrights.

However, the European Commission's Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative is touted as the one which could very likely fundamentally change the way we perceive the digital world around us.

Essentially, the NGI touches upon every aspect of the digital economy. Big data, Internet of Things, data protection, cybersecurity, SSPs, net neutrality, artificial intelligence and job creation all form part of an a platform that is expected to revolutionalise the use of the internet. 


An indication only of the strategic importance of the NGI is that the Next Generation Internet Summit which was hosted at the European Parliament 6-7 June 2017 and which kickstarted this initiative, brought together some of the most important political figures in Brussels, including Eruopean Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, Commission Vice responsible for the digital single market Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for research, science and innovation Carlos Moedas and MEP Eva Maydell.

The level of control over the internet and the data flows will be a major pillar of the. Data is the new oil and evidence of the balancing of interests can already be found in the policy debates currently taking place, for example in the US where net neutrality is at stake, or calls worldwide for social media service providers to exercise greater control over the type of information they allow to be disseminated throughout their platforms. 

With the internet acquiring greater influence over our lives and the way industries operate today or the way that they are expected to be organised and produce innovation in the future, the shifting of the debate is fuelling great interest from stakeholders and policymakers. 

The field of artificial intelligence is perhaps the most characteristic. It is predicted that machines working on decision making algorithms will take up a greater part of the production lines in traditional industries, while other service areas have already started to incorporate artificial intelligence to perform tedious tasks in a fraction of the time. Discussions on the ethical dilemmas and the social impact from the introduction of such technologies, balanced with the need for greater autonomy, have only started to emerge.

It is certainly highly positive that there is a debate taking place at European and international level on such high impact policy initiatives as the NGI. It is through this dialogue that consensus will be reached with the aim to provide the appropriate legal and policy framework for its implementation in the digital single market. 

The success of the NGI will be measured on its ability to allow Europeans to flourish both individually and collectively within this new era of enhanced connectivity, and, at the same time, to provide European industry with the tools to gain a competitive advantage within an interoperable technological global environment. 


About the author

Spiro Dhapi is a technology legal and policy expert

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