The inventor of the world wide web has admitted that he’s become disillusioned by his creation because it has become ‘an engine of inequity and division.’
Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the web in 1989 with the idea that the sharing of information would benefit all mankind – but now, he says it is ‘swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.’
In a blog post, the 63-year-old spoke of how the public have developed a mistrust of apps that ‘have an ulterior motive.’
In the wake of the breach of millions of people’s Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, he revealed he has been working on a new online platform that would help users regulate the personal information they share online and how the data is stored.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee (pictured) has admitted that he’s become disillusioned by his creation because it has become ‘an engine of inequity and division’
‘I’ve always believed the web is for everyone,’ he wrote.
‘That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world.
‘But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas.’
He added: ‘Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.
‘This is why I have, over recent years, been working with a few people at MIT and elsewhere to develop Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web.’
Sir Tim is launching his startup company Inrupt off of Solid, a decentralised web platform he and others at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have spent years working on, this week.
Its aim is to decentralise the web and take back the reins of power from the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon.
He is also working on a digital assistant called Charlie as a rival to Amazon’s Alexa which is also aiming to give people more control of their data.
Sir Tim is launching his startup company Inrupt off of Solid, a decentralised web platform he and others at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have spent years working on, this week
With Inrupt, users can create their own ‘personal online data store’. Pictured, an app prototype – built with the technology from Berners-Lee’s already-established open source platform Solid
‘People want apps that help them do what they want and need to do — without spying on them, Sir Tim added.
‘Apps that don’t have an ulterior motive of distracting them with propositions to buy this or that. People will pay for this kind of quality and assurance.’
With Inrupt, users can create their own ‘personal online data store’ – or POD – to house anything from contact lists to music libraries.
The technology is designed to bring together the functions of programs such as Google Drive, Microsoft Outlook, Slack, Spotify and WhatsApp in one place.
Sir Tim says the intent behind his startup is ‘world domination’ in an exclusive interview with Fast Company.
The site noted that the comment was said in jest – but was also true.
‘It’s a historical moment,’ Sir Tim said. ‘We have to do it now.’
As of this week, tech developers around the globe can create their own decentralisd apps using the tools available on the Inrupt website.
Sir Tim is no stranger to the forefront of the technology industry, having been credited with transforming the internet when he established the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the web in 1989 with the idea that the sharing of information would benefit all mankind
He believes that through Inrupt, he can and will upend the system again, making the long-sought dream of a ‘free and open digital utopia’ into a reality.
‘I’m incredibly optimistic for this next era of the web,’ he said.
Central to the tech mogul’s philosophy has been shifting control away from online giants who have profited from the web’s current centralisation and back to individual users.
The Inrupt site will serve as a widely-accessible entry point to the tech legend’s already-established open-source platform Solid.
One of Solid’s key features is that people are in charge of deciding who can access the information they store within their PODs – which the company refers to as ‘personal empowerment through data’.
Inrupt is said to have the potential to completely upend the business models of companies like Facebook and Google, who have raked in profits from quietly selling user information to third parties.
An avid defender of net neutrality, Sir Tim added: ‘We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight.
‘We are not asking their permission.’