Tim Berners-Lee has joined a series of experts this week in calling for greater scrutiny of the use and scope of technology, and the internet in particular, which he is credited with developing.
Now the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Berners-Lee expressed fears over the way the web could used for “misinformation” by “undemocratic forces”.
The inventor gave his comments to BBC News just before next week’s launch of the third International Semantic Web User Interaction Workshop to be held in Atlanta, US where he will be one of the panellists on a discussion about interactive design and the semantic web.
"If we don't have the ability to understand the web as it's now emerging, we will end up with things that are very bad,” Berners-Lee told the BBC.
"Studying these forces and the way they're affected by the underlying technology is one of the things that we think is really important," he said.
Berners-Lee is heading up the Web Secience Research initiative, which aims to understand the social as well as technical future of the web. He also said organisations fall short of their understanding of its impact beyond the technological.
"We're hearing complaints from companies when they need people that really understand the medium from both the technological and social side,” he said. "When you look at university courses, web science isn't there - it seems to fall through the cracks.
The US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Southampton in the UK collaborate in the Web Science Research Initiative’s long-term aims to develop a scienific understanding of the developing dynamics around the web.
At the same time, this week the United Nations’ Internet Governance Forum held in Athens this week has been trying decide if internet users should have the same rights online as they do offline.
Forum members examined a bill of rights proposed by civil liberties group IP Justice, but debated who would have the power to ratify it, as well as what rights it should protect. Critics point out that bill of rights for the internet would not be binding for anyone, as the internet transcends local boundaries.
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