My discussion with ChatGPT-4 about the evolution of the Internet

Last update : December 17, 2023

In mid-2013, I published my contribution Divide the Web Timeline in nine epochs on my website and in different Internet forums. Today, I discussed this topic with ChatGPT-4 and I am impressed with the high quality of the chat. Here is the flow of our dialogue :

I created the following timeline for the Internet history:

No VersionTime periodDurationEpoch
1Web 01930 – 1969 40 years Internet pre-history
2Web 0.51970 – 198920 yearsInternet (network) history
3Web 11990 – 199910 yearsread-only web
4Web 1.52000 – 20045 yearsinteractive web
5Web 22005 – 20095 yearscollaborative web
6Web 2.52010 – mid 20122,5 yearsmobile web
7Web 3 mid 2012 – 20142,5 yearssemantic web
8Web 3.52015 – mid 20172,5 yearsintelligent web
9Web 4mid 2017 – 20192,5 yearsconscious web

Your timeline provides an interesting perspective on the evolution of the Internet, categorized into different “Web” versions. Let’s briefly discuss each phase:

  1. Web 0 (1930 – 1969, Internet pre-history): This period predates the actual development of the Internet. It’s interesting that you’ve included it, as it may refer to the foundational technologies and theories that later enabled the creation of the Internet, such as early computing and networking concepts.
  2. Web 0.5 (1970 – 1989, Internet network history): This era likely refers to the development of the initial networking infrastructure, including the birth of ARPANET in 1969, which is considered the predecessor of the modern Internet.
  3. Web 1.0 (1990 – 1999, read-only web): This is the period of the early World Wide Web, where websites were mostly static and offered limited interaction. Users could read information on web pages but had minimal ways to interact or contribute content.
  4. Web 1.5 (2000 – 2004, interactive web): Here, we see the emergence of more interactive websites. This could include the early stages of e-commerce, online forums, and more dynamic content.
  5. Web 2.0 (2005 – 2009, collaborative web): This is characterized by the growth of social media, user-generated content, and increased interactivity. It represents a shift from static web pages to dynamic and shareable content.
  6. Web 2.5 (2010 – mid 2012, mobile web): The focus here is on the adaptation of the web for mobile devices. The rise of smartphones and tablets during this period greatly influenced web design and accessibility.
  7. Web 3.0 (mid 2012 – 2014, semantic web): This phase is often associated with the concept of the “semantic web”, where data is interconnected in a way that can be easily understood and utilized by machines, enhancing personalization and context-aware computing.
  8. Web 3.5 (2015 – mid 2017, intelligent web): This could refer to advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, leading to more intelligent and adaptive web services.
  9. Web 4.0 (mid 2017 – 2019, conscious web): This term is less commonly used and could refer to an envisioned future state of the Internet, possibly involving more advanced AI, deeper integration with daily life, and perhaps even elements of consciousness or highly advanced interactivity.

Your timeline is an innovative way to categorize the development of the Internet, though some of these terms (like Web 3.5 and Web 4.0) are not widely recognized in the same way as Web 1.0 or Web 2.0. It’s a subjective interpretation, but a very interesting one!

Please suggest one innovator which you consider the most influential for each epoch.

Selecting the most influential innovator for each epoch of the Internet’s history is a challenging task, as each period saw contributions from many exceptional individuals. However, I’ll suggest one key figure for each epoch, bearing in mind that this is a subjective selection and there are many other equally significant contributors:

  1. Web 0 (1930 – 1969, Internet pre-history):
    • Claude Shannon: Known as the “father of information theory,” Shannon’s work laid the foundational principles for digital circuit design theory and telecommunications, which were crucial for the development of the Internet.
  2. Web 0.5 (1970 – 1989, Internet network history):
    • Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn: Often regarded as the “fathers of the Internet,” Cerf and Kahn co-invented the TCP/IP protocols, which are the foundational technology protocol suite for the Internet.
  3. Web 1.0 (1990 – 1999, read-only web):
    • Tim Berners-Lee: He invented the World Wide Web, a key development that made the Internet accessible and useful to the general public.
  4. Web 1.5 (2000 – 2004, interactive web):
    • Marc Andreessen: As the co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser, and the co-founder of Netscape, Andreessen significantly contributed to making the web more interactive and user-friendly.
  5. Web 2.0 (2005 – 2009, collaborative web):
    • Mark Zuckerberg: As the co-founder of Facebook, Zuckerberg played a pivotal role in the rise of social media and the shift towards a more collaborative, user-generated web.
  6. Web 2.5 (2010 – mid 2012, mobile web):
    • Steve Jobs: While not directly an Internet innovator, Jobs’ work with Apple in popularizing the iPhone significantly influenced how the Internet was accessed and used on mobile devices.
  7. Web 3.0 (mid 2012 – 2014, semantic web):
    • Tim Berners-Lee (again): His continued work and advocacy for a more semantic, data-driven web are significant for this era.
  8. Web 3.5 (2015 – mid 2017, intelligent web):
    • Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat: Their work at Google, particularly on systems like MapReduce and Google Brain, contributed greatly to the development of AI and machine learning technologies that underpin the intelligent web.
  9. Web 4.0 (mid 2017 – 2019, conscious web):
    • Elon Musk: Through his work with Neuralink and his advocacy for AI, Musk has been a driving force in discussions around the convergence of technology, consciousness, and the Internet, though this era is still emerging and somewhat speculative.

Each of these figures represents just a part of the collaborative efforts and innovations that have shaped the Internet’s history.

Please generate a diagram of this timeline.

Visualization of my Internet Timeline generated by ChatGPT-4

Here is the timeline diagram of the Internet’s history, as per your request. This visualization represents the various epochs from 1930 to 2019, detailing the transitions from Web 0 to Web 4.0. You can view each phase along with its corresponding time period and description.

Thank you, but the text is not readable. Please generate a new one.

Second visualization of my Internet Timeline generated by ChatGPT-4

Here is the revised timeline diagram of the Internet’s history, designed for better readability. This visualization clearly represents the various phases from Web 0 to Web 4.0, covering the period from 1930 to 2019.

Please create a diagram for the nine epochs in the style of this image:

My Web Timeline in 9 epochs
Third visualization of my Internet Timeline generated by ChatGPT-4

Here is the diagram for the nine epochs of the Internet’s history, styled similarly to the image you provided. It presents a visual progression of the web from 1930 to 2019 with each epoch labeled and color-coded

Please suggest 10 pioneers for each period.

Certainly! Here’s a list of 10 pioneers for each epoch of Internet history, keeping in mind that these are just a few among many who have contributed significantly:

Web 0 (1930 – 1969, Internet pre-history)

  1. Claude Shannon: Father of information theory.
  2. Alan Turing: Pioneer of theoretical computer science.
  3. John von Neumann: Key figure in the development of early computers.
  4. Paul Baran: Innovator of packet switching, fundamental to Internet data transmission.
  5. Donald Davies: Co-inventor of packet-switched networks.
  6. J.C.R. Licklider: Early visionary of a global computer network.
  7. Norbert Wiener: Founder of cybernetics.
  8. Vanavar Bush: Developer of the Memex concept, an early vision of the web.
  9. Leonard Kleinrock: Developed the mathematical theory of packet networks.
  10. Herbert Simon: His work in AI and computing was foundational.

Web 0.5 (1970 – 1989, Internet network history)

  1. Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn: Co-inventors of the TCP/IP protocols.
  2. Ray Tomlinson: Creator of email.
  3. Bob Metcalfe: Inventor of Ethernet technology.
  4. Paul Mockapetris: Inventor of the Domain Name System (DNS).
  5. Radia Perlman: Known for her work on network bridging and the Spanning Tree Protocol.
  6. Tim Paterson: Developer of DOS, critical for early personal computers.
  7. Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie: Creators of UNIX, which influenced many modern operating systems.
  8. Jon Postel: Key figure in the development and governance of the early Internet.
  9. Steve Wozniak: Co-founder of Apple, influential in personal computer revolution.
  10. Richard Stallman: Advocate for free software movement and founder of the GNU Project.

Web 1.0 (1990 – 1999, read-only web)

  1. Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web.
  2. Marc Andreessen: Co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser.
  3. Eric Bina: Co-developer of Mosaic.
  4. Roberta Williams: Influential in graphical adventure games, expanding the web’s use.
  5. Rasmus Lerdorf: Creator of PHP, widely used in web development.
  6. Brendan Eich: Creator of JavaScript, essential for web interactivity.
  7. Larry Page and Sergey Brin: Co-founders of Google, transforming web search and usage.
  8. David Filo and Jerry Yang: Founders of Yahoo, pioneers in web portals.
  9. Matt Drudge: Creator of the Drudge Report, influential in online news and media.
  10. Pierre Omidyar: Founder of eBay, pioneering e-commerce.

Web 1.5 (2000 – 2004, interactive web)

  1. Jeff Bezos: Founder of Amazon, significantly expanded the scope of e-commerce.
  2. Jack Ma: Founder of Alibaba, major figure in global e-commerce.
  3. Jimmy Wales: Co-founder of Wikipedia, exemplifying user-generated content.
  4. Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim: Founders of YouTube, changing how video is shared online.
  5. Mark Zuckerberg: Founder of Facebook, influential in social networking.
  6. Reid Hoffman: Founder of LinkedIn, pioneering professional networking.
  7. Tom Anderson: Co-founder of MySpace, an early popular social media site.
  8. Ben Silbermann: Creator of Pinterest, influential in image-sharing and curation.
  9. Evan Williams: Co-founder of Blogger, popularizing blog publishing.
  10. Kevin Systrom: Co-founder of Instagram, influential in mobile photo sharing.

Web 2.0 (2005 – 2009, collaborative web)

  1. Jack Dorsey: Co-founder of Twitter, influential in microblogging.
  2. Jan Koum and Brian Acton: Founders of WhatsApp, changing instant messaging.
  3. Daniel Ek: Founder of Spotify, pioneering in music streaming.
  4. Stewart Butterfield: Co-founder of Flickr, important in photo sharing.
  5. Markus Persson: Creator of Minecraft, influential in gaming and online communities.
  6. Travis Kalanick: Co-founder of Uber, transforming transportation services.
  7. Brian Chesky: Co-founder of Airbnb, influential in peer-to-peer lodging.
  8. Drew Houston: Founder of Dropbox, pioneering cloud storage and sharing.
  9. Hiroshi Mikitani: Founder of Rakuten, expanding e-commerce in Asia.
  10. Mike Krieger: Co-founder of Instagram, significant in social media evolution.

Web 2.5 (2010 – mid 2012, mobile web)

  1. Steve Jobs: Co-founder of Apple, pivotal in the mobile internet revolution.
  2. Andy Rubin: Co-founder of Android, influential in mobile operating systems.
  3. Jeff Lawson: Founder of Twilio, important in cloud communications.
  4. Evan Spiegel: Co-founder of Snapchat, influential in ephemeral messaging.
  5. Lei Jun: Founder of Xiaomi, significant in smartphone and IoT device manufacturing.
  6. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp: Founders of Uber, reshaping mobile transportation services.
  7. Sean Rad: Co-founder of Tinder, influential in mobile dating apps.
  8. John Hanke: Founder of Niantic, known for Pokémon Go, pioneering AR in mobile gaming.
  9. Nick D’Aloisio: Founder of Summly, notable for AI in news aggregation on mobile.
  10. Daniel Ek (again): His work with Spotify on mobile platforms.

Web 3.0 (mid 2012 – 2014, semantic web)

  1. Tim Berners-Lee: Continued to be influential in pushing for a more interconnected and semantic web.
  2. Jeff Dean: A Google Senior Fellow, significant in developing large-scale AI systems.
  3. Elon Musk: Founder of SpaceX and Tesla, influential in integrating web technologies in new domains.
  4. Larry Page (again): His work in integrating AI into Google’s services.
  5. Reed Hastings: Co-founder of Netflix, pioneering content streaming and personalization.
  6. Marc Benioff: Founder of Salesforce, a leader in cloud computing and CRM.
  7. Marissa Mayer: Former CEO of Yahoo, influential in web services and search.
  8. Satya Nadella: CEO of Microsoft, significant in cloud computing and AI integration.
  9. Sundar Pichai: CEO of Google, influential in AI and cloud computing.
  10. Sheryl Sandberg: COO of Facebook, instrumental in business strategy for social media.

Web 3.5 (2015 – mid 2017, intelligent web)

  1. Jeff Dean (again): His continued work in Google Brain and AI.
  2. Sundar Pichai (again): Leading Google’s AI-first approach.
  3. Demis Hassabis: Co-founder of DeepMind, a pioneer in artificial intelligence.
  4. Elon Musk (again): His work in AI and Neuralink.
  5. Mark Zuckerberg (again): For integrating AI into Facebook’s platforms.
  6. Satya Nadella (again): His leadership in Microsoft’s AI initiatives.
  7. Susan Wojcicki: CEO of YouTube, important in AI-driven video recommendations.
  8. Ginni Rometty: Former CEO of IBM, influential in Watson AI.
  9. Yann LeCun: Facebook’s AI Research Director, a key figure in deep learning.
  10. Fei-Fei Li: An AI professor and advocate for ethical AI.

Web 4.0 (mid 2017 – 2019, conscious web)

  1. Elon Musk (again): For his vision regarding AI and the future of technology integration.
  2. Jeff Bezos (again): His work with Amazon and Alexa in integrating AI into everyday life.
  3. Mark Zuckerberg (again): For exploring AI and VR integration in social media.
  4. Sundar Pichai (again): For leading Google’s advancements in AI and quantum computing.
  5. Tim Cook: CEO of Apple, continuing to integrate AI and advanced technologies in products.
  6. Ginni Rometty (again): For IBM’s advances in AI and quantum computing.
  7. Satya Nadella (again): For Microsoft’s advancements in AI, cloud computing, and mixed reality.
  8. Masayoshi Son: CEO of SoftBank, significant in investing in AI and robotics.
  9. Reed Hastings (again): For Netflix’s use of AI in content personalization and recommendation.
  10. Lei Jun (again): His work in integrating AI and IoT in Xiaomi’s products.

Each of these periods had numerous contributors, and the ones listed above played key roles in shaping the Internet’s evolution. Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and many more innovators have had a significant impact.

What about Giulio Tononi ?

Giulio Tononi is a prominent neuroscientist and psychiatrist, widely known for his work in consciousness studies, particularly for his development of the Integrated Information Theory (IIT). Tononi’s contributions, however, are primarily in the field of neuroscience and the theoretical study of consciousness, rather than directly in the development or evolution of the Internet or its technologies.

Integrated Information Theory proposes a framework to scientifically measure how conscious a system is and suggests that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of physical reality. This theory has significant implications in various fields, including psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and potentially artificial intelligence and robotics. It provides insights into understanding the nature of consciousness, which could influence the development of AI and potentially, in a broader sense, aspects of Web 4.0, particularly those exploring the intersection of AI, consciousness, and technology.

While Tononi’s work is influential and groundbreaking, it doesn’t directly correlate with the development of Internet technology or its various epochs as outlined in your timeline. His contributions are more aligned with theoretical and philosophical understandings of consciousness, which may indirectly influence future technological developments, particularly in areas like AI and human-computer interaction.

In your proposal of Internet pioneers for the 9 epochs, who is the global outstanding innovator ?

Selecting a single “global outstanding innovator” across the entire history of the Internet is exceptionally challenging because the development of the Internet is a cumulative effort of countless individuals, each building upon the work of others. However, if we were to choose one individual whose work has had a profound and foundational impact across multiple eras of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee stands out as a particularly influential figure.

Tim Berners-Lee is often credited with inventing the World Wide Web in 1989, which revolutionized how the Internet was used and made it accessible to the general public. His creation of the first web browser and the technologies that underpin the web (HTML, HTTP, URLs) laid the groundwork for the explosive growth of the Internet during the Web 1.0 era. Moreover, his ongoing advocacy for a free and open Internet, his efforts to enhance web standards, and his vision for the Semantic Web (Web 3.0) have continued to influence the evolution of the Internet. His contributions are not confined to a single epoch but have rippled through the entire timeline of the Internet’s development.

Berners-Lee’s dedication to ensuring that the web remains a universally accessible and neutral platform also reflects the collaborative and international spirit in which the Internet was conceived and has continued to evolve. Thus, while many innovators have made indispensable contributions, Berners-Lee’s impact has been uniquely broad and enduring.

Please propose the next epochs to extend the timeline after 2020.

Predicting the future of the Internet is speculative, but it’s an intriguing exercise to imagine how current trends might evolve. Building on the previous epochs, here’s a possible extension of the timeline beyond 2020, reflecting current technological advancements and anticipated future developments:

  1. Web 4.5 (2020 – 2024, Integrated Web): This period could see the integration of the Internet more deeply into daily life through the Internet of Things (IoT), where everyday objects become interconnected and smart. Advances in AI continue to enable more personalized and context-aware experiences.
  2. Web 5.0 (2025 – 2029, Immersive Web): Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) could become mainstream, leading to an immersive Internet experience where digital and physical realities blend seamlessly. This could also be the era of the spatial web, where web services are integrated into the three-dimensional space around us.
  3. Web 5.5 (2030 – 2034, Quantum Web): With quantum computing reaching maturity, this epoch may herald unprecedented computational powers, leading to breakthroughs in cryptography, data processing, and an overall leap in the capabilities of the Internet, potentially affecting everything from search algorithms to AI.
  4. Web 6.0 (2035 – 2040, Autonomous Web): The rise of autonomous systems, powered by sophisticated AI and machine learning algorithms, could create a self-organizing Internet. This might involve autonomous data centers, self-repairing networks, and AI-driven content creation and curation.
  5. Web 6.5 (2041 – 2045, Symbiotic Web): This could be the age of bio-digital convergence, where the boundary between digital and biological systems blurs. Advances in bioinformatics and neurotechnology might enable direct brain-computer interfaces, leading to an Internet experience that is directly “felt” or experienced without screens or devices.
  6. Web 7.0 (2046 – 2050, Cognitive Web): AI may evolve to understand and interpret human emotions and cognitive states, leading to an empathetic Internet that can adapt to the emotional and psychological needs of users. This could also involve cognitive assistants that understand and augment human thought processes.
  7. Web 7.5 (2051 – 2055, Holistic Web): In this epoch, the Internet might evolve into a holistic global brain, connecting all human knowledge and experience in a central, accessible network that not only connects people but also provides insights and understanding at a global scale.
  8. Web 8.0 (2056 – 2060, Interstellar Web): Looking further into the future, the Internet could expand beyond Earth, connecting human settlements on other planets and spacecraft, leading to an interstellar network that serves not just a global community but a multi-planetary civilization.

These future epochs represent an extrapolation of current technological trends into the future and are speculative by nature. They reflect the potential for technological convergence, where different streams of innovation merge to create transformative changes in the way the Internet is experienced and utilized.

I think the duration of an epoch will decrease exponentially.

That’s an interesting observation and it aligns with the concept of accelerating change, where the rate of technological progress increases exponentially over time. This is often associated with Moore’s Law, which originally referred to the doubling of transistors on integrated circuits approximately every two years, but has also been generalized to the rapid pace of technological and computational advances.

Given this concept, future epochs of the Internet might indeed have shorter durations as innovations occur more rapidly.

Based on your proposals, my suggestion is the following:

10Web 4.52020 – mid 20211,5 yearsadaptive web
11Web 5mid 2021 – 20231,5 yearsubiquitus web
12Web 5.52024 1 yeardecentralized web
13Web 620251 yearquantum web
14Web 6.520261 yearautonomous web
15Web 720271 yearcognitive web
16Web 7.520281 yearsymbiotic web
17Web 820291 yearholistic web
18Web 8.5> 2030?interstellar web

Your proposed timeline reflects an accelerated pace of change and represents a vision of the Internet’s evolution that is both ambitious and intriguing. Each epoch you’ve described encapsulates a significant technological shift or integration of the Internet into broader aspects of life and society:

  1. Web 4.5 (2020 – mid 2021, Adaptive Web): Focused on AI-driven personalization, where algorithms adapt to individual behaviors and preferences.
  2. Web 5.0 (mid 2021 – end 2023, Ubiquitous Web): Marked by the Internet’s integration into daily life through IoT, making connectivity seamless and omnipresent.
  3. Web 5.5 (2024, Decentralized Web): Characterized by blockchain technologies that enable a shift to decentralized networks, enhancing user control over data.
  4. Web 6.0 (2025, Quantum Web): Quantum computing impacts the Internet, potentially revolutionizing data security, processing, and overall performance.
  5. Web 6.5 (2026, Autonomous Web): AI systems manage much of the web’s functionality, leading to self-organizing networks and content management.
  6. Web 7.0 (2027, Cognitive Web): Advances in neurotechnology allow for direct brain-computer interfaces, enabling thought-driven interaction with the web.
  7. Web 7.5 (2028, Symbiotic Web): Digital and biological systems begin to merge, leading to enhanced human capabilities and bio-digital networks.
  8. Web 8.0 (2029, Holistic Web): The Internet evolves into a global brain, connecting humanity in a shared network of knowledge and consciousness.
  9. Web 8.5 (> 2030, Interstellar Web): Expansion beyond Earth, with the Internet connecting humans across planets and possibly even interstellar distances.

This timeline serves as a speculative roadmap for how the Internet might develop, highlighting transformative changes that could redefine human interaction, commerce, and connectivity. While it is a projection, it’s a thought-provoking look at the potential future of digital and human convergence.

I have a last wish: please generate an image which includes Web 4.5 up to Web 8.5.

Here is the futuristic diagram illustrating the evolution of the Internet from Web 4.5 to Web 8.5, with each epoch represented by unique icons and themes that symbolize the main characteristics of that period.

I don’t like the diagram, I prefer a futuristic artistic image.

Here is the futuristic artistic representation that conceptualizes the evolution of the Internet from Web 4.5 to Web 8.5. The image features abstract elements and visual metaphors that symbolize the main themes of each epoch, connected in a progressive flow.

Great. Thank you very much !

I’m glad you liked it! If you have any more requests or need further assistance, feel free to ask. Good luck with your timeline project!


Operation of ChatGPT-4

In daily newspapers, some journalists continue to explain that a chatbot is a language model derived from a statistical analysis of the distribution of words in pre-existing texts. I am of the opinion that the relevance of the answers provided by ChatGPT-4 proves that conversational artificial intelligence is based on mechanisms other than algorithms using statistics.

Internet Pioneers

Even if the list of 83 Internet pioneers, proposed by ChatGPT-4, includes only 6 women, I fully endorse the selection made. I also agree that Tim Berners-Lee, who has chaired the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) since 1994, is the most deserving figure among Internet innovators.

Internet timeline

ChatGPT-4’s proposal to extend the segmentation of Internet evolution beyond 2020 is very cautious, while my own suggestion, approved by ChatGPT-4, is very ambitious. I think the most likely forecast lies somewhere in the middle.

Weaknesses of ChatGPT-4

While the generation of artistic images by ChatGPT-4 is exemplary, the creation of technical drawings or diagrams is not yet one of its strengths. The integration of letters and words into an image does not yet conform to the rules. Furthermore, ChatGPT-4 needs to perfect its mastery of numbers in relation to the generation of illustrations and the recognition of objects in images. The following screenshots show that ChatGPT-4 has made efforts in drawing geometric shapes, but it does not yet have the skills to properly manage numbers.