World Wide Web Inventor on 30th Anniversary: People Horrified by Trump Election Realize Web Is Not 'Serving Humanity'

The inventor of the World Wide Web has revealed his vision for the future, proclaiming that the fight for technology is "one of the most important causes of our time."

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee was speaking as the web turned 30. He made the first proposal in 1989 while working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. His work was memorialized in colorful pixelated form in today's Google Doodle.

Speaking to reporters at the physics lab this week, Berners-Lee said recent scandals, including Russian electoral interference, the impact of social media on Brexit and the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data abuse controversy, had left a negative impact on users.

"[Web users] are all stepping back, suddenly horrified after the Trump and Brexit elections, realizing that this web thing that they thought was that cool is actually not necessarily serving humanity very well," he said (via Reuters). On social media firms' impropriety, he said: "It seems we don't finish reeling from one privacy disaster before moving onto the next one."

The technology had come a long way since 1993, when CERN put the web software in the public domain. The first website published at CERN is still available to see.

Back then, social media and streaming services did not exist. It was envisioned as a way of sharing information between scientists, academics and institutes. The tech is not to be confused with the internet itself, which is the global computer network that dates back to the 1960s.

The current iteration of the web has left some users unsure if it really is a force for good, Berners-Lee said in a blog post this week marking the anniversary. He acknowledged it had created "opportunity for scammers" and "made all kinds of crime easier to commit."

But technologists, governments and social media companies must ramp up efforts to tackle the problems online, he said, calling it "one of the most important causes of our time."

"[The plan] must be clear enough to act as a guiding star for the way forward but flexible enough to adapt to the rapid pace of change in technology," Berners-Lee said.

"It's our journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future."

"The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won't be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want," he added in the blog post.

The Web Foundation, spearheaded by Berners-Lee, is currently working with governments and companies to create a new set of online principles: the Contract for the Web.

"Given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can't be changed for the better in the next 30. If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web," the technologist wrote this week.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventor of the World Wide Web arrives at Guildhall to receive an Honorary Freedom of the City of London award on September 24, 2014, in London. Speaking to reporters this week, Berners-Lee said recent scandals, had left a negative impact on users. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
World Wide Web Inventor on 30th Anniversary: People Horrified by Trump Election Realize Web Is Not 'Serving Humanity' | U.S.