Kevin Kelly shared his vision of the future and upcoming developments at Europe’s biggest technology event: The Next Web Conference. What may we expect, what will our world look like, and how will VR and AR be involved?

In the future, everything will be scanned, digitized and connected. From the food you eat, to the shoes you wear and the house you live in. These virtual twins are digital mirrors of objects that help simulate their design and performance. Kelly calls this hyperlinked world “The Mesh”.

To get a better understanding of the three network eras Kelly describes, we listed them in consecutive order:

  1. The Web: the first network platform, with Google as the gatekeeper.
  2. The Social Graph: the second network platform, with Facebook and WeChat as gatekeepers.
  3. The Virtual-Cloud: the third network platform that will emerge, with a gatekeeper yet unknown.

The first era was the moment we took all the documents and information and put it all together. This network of documents is called the Web. That was the genesis of the reason we’re here now. It made information readable, and could make new things we weren’t capable of before. Google is the gatekeeper in this era. Eventually, Google became the most powerful entity of the planet in many ways.

The second phase we’re currently entering, is linking all humans together. A social graph that’s assembled through social media. It transformed readable human behavior and human occupations into human machines. This means we are now all hyperlinked and made machinable. Facebook and WeChat are the gatekeepers of that system and the most powerful of the planet.

After that comes the third stage of the network. Basically, it hyperlinks all the things and places in the world. Including shoes, documents, people, buildings, objects, places, etcetera. The whole world will be machinable and manipulated through algorithms. With artificial intelligence as the electricity running the mesh. Kelly calls this phenomenon “The Mesh”. The gatekeeper for the third era is race for now and the next 10 years to come. Big companies are all racing towards it, however Kelly states it will probably be someone else to dominate this new platform.

What exactly is this Mesh, and what does it look like?
In the Mesh, everything can be scanned and will become part of a scanned and hyperlinked world. Everything is connected and everything has information. Think about your Fitbit and how it’s connected in this world. Think about robots and self driving cars. Think about your living room. If everything has a digitized twin, it can be updated in tune by the pace of change. And there’s an application programming interface (API), meaning the public can interact with it. It will make the entire world as decentralized as possible, just like the web is.

“Virtual reality and augmented reality are a subset in The Mesh. It’s accessible from any device. Through tablets, phones and VR sets.”

This platform will also have characteristics that are extremely immersive. Virtual reality and augmented reality are part of this subset. It’s accessible from any device. Through tablets, phones and VR sets. You will actually be able to walk the country in a 1:1 virtual way from your sofa. This idea of having a virtual world you can walk across and see in virtual reality, will include things like digitized buildings. There’s a virtual twin of physical objects, to help simulate and design it.  People will communicate in this world with their own avatar. They may be sitting in a real chair, but they will be virtual. The mash will be the most social of all social media, across the entire globe. And experience will become a new currency.

Maybe this is your worst nightmare, Kelly continues. But it’s only one vision of what it could look like. It gives you a sense of what you could do once everything is digitized in this world. There are going to be a thousand new scary problems, but it will also give a lot more opportunities.

Kevin Kelly is a leading technology thinker and author of  “What Technology Wants” (2010) and “The Inevitable” (2016). He’s co-founder of Wired Magazine and was the futurist adviser for Spielberg’s movie Minority Report (2002). Yes, that’s the movie everyone worships for its futuristic credibility. Kelly clearly knows what he’s talking about. Want to know more about this Mesh and the use of virtual and mixed reality in this world? You can order his book “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” (2016) right here.

Header photo by The Next Web.