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MySpace, with 144 million users, has more people than Tokyo, Seoul, New York City, Mexico City and Mumbai put together. Facebook’s 52 million users are more than the populations of Spain or South Africa. This explosion of online social networking attests to the phenomenal growth of connectivity. New forms of connectivity in the future will not just be with each other, but with objects and new forms of information. Examples include a pill that calls to remind you to take it, gene social networking and mind reading robots. Some experts think that by 2020 the term ‘virtual reality’ will become outdated – as ubiquitous network connectivity may soon form an additional cyberspace layer on top of the physical world, which we may be able to see by simply donning special specs. Web 3.0 – ‘the thinking web’ where Artificial Intelligence understands and proactively organises information – is also on the horizon. Perhaps the next big networking story will be devoid of the human element altogether and be between machines?

This is part of Outsights 21 Drivers for the 21st Century ™, a future-orientated scan of the 21 key forces shaping this century.

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