March 3, 2021

Tim Berners-Lee: "Siri and Alexa do not work for me, but for their companies" | Technology

Tim Berners-Lee: "Siri and Alexa do not work for me, but for their companies" | Technology

At 33, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Now, 30 years later, see that the internet we have It was not the one he planned to create. And he wants to help rectify.

Berners-Lee calls it the "redistricting" of the internet. "The spirit of the early years was that my blog and the links I chose led to better readings, now what we read is determined by the algorithm of a social network, there has been a great consolidation, which is bad for innovation". said Berners-Lee at the inaugural conference of the first edition of T3CH, the travel technology event organized by Amadeus in Madrid.

With the cover of his computer full of stickers, Berners-Lee has explained how today the priority of technology is already its users: "Siri and Alexa they do not work for me, but for their companies, "he said." In an ad-supported model, the goal is to distract the user so that he buys something. "

"In an ad-supported model, the goal is to distract the user to buy"

Berners-Lee's complaint is against the foundation of the current website, based on large companies that use their users' data to expand and prosper their business. "That is the original sin," Berners-Lee believes, although it was the Trump and Brexit elections that led him to believe that everything must change.

Berners-Lee has set as an example of disaster to young Macedonians They created false news about the US elections in 2016 to make money with ads on their pages. The craziest phrases – like "Hillary wants Trump to win", according to Berners-Lee – were the ones that generated more traffic and therefore more money. The system had terrible incentives. It did not matter how much, only the size of the traffic mattered: "False things got more money than the real ones." The Google search engine told them to do more. fake news"Berners-Lee said:" The system is very bad ", he concluded.

Since some years, Berners-Lee works in Boston with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute for Technolgy) for an alternative. His name is Solid and in 2018 he founded a company, Inrupt, to achieve his goals. Solid comes from "SOcial LInked Data" [datos socialmente unidos] and its intention is to change the incentives of developers and service providers. The data will always be in the user's hands and only he or she will decide who they share it with: photos, location, e-mail, shopping, whatever.

This idea has several problems compared to 1989. Now the web already exists and has its model, which gives salaries and benefits to millions of people. There are even countries that have based national security models on the web as they are today.

"All the data you generate is from that company and serves to manipulate you"

For Berners-Lee, that only serves to manipulate: "All the data you generate is from that company and serves to manipulate you," he said. The manipulation can be commercial or political.

In addition to the reluctance of companies and governments, the model change proposed by Berners-Lee has two other monumental challenges: one, the user should be active when managing their data, for example in his Dropbox, and two, the new ones "Solid world" apps [Solidworld], as Berners-Lee repeated, they must be paid. So it has to be if "the app really works on my behalf", and not on another company's. "I will pay for the news so that there are journalists who work for me and not cheat me, so that nobody wants to distract me while I work and so that whoever calculates my taxes does so without abusing my data," he said.

First-class citizens

"The computer must work for me." Berners-Lee's lament is based on the apparent growing sense that our devices work both to help us and to collect our personal information on behalf of other companies. It is a pact that many are willing to accept, for now. Berners-Lee has referred to the millennials like that generation for which it seems that privacy is less important: "The older ones remember how the first years of the web were, but the millennials They should be able to imagine a world where they were first-class citizens, in which they control their data, "he said.

Despite his technical training and confidence in technology, Berners-Lee now hopes that people will ask and encourage a change, and not the technology that proposes it: "The systems we design will respect users," he said. .

In a small metaphor of how citizens feel today with their privacy, Berners-Lee has remembered the box on cookies that we must approve in Europe to enter a new website: "You should not have to give okay with the feeling that it is a radioactive box, "he said.

"Our goal is not to turn privacy over, but to put it on its feet as it should be", he concluded.


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