As the internet turns 50, the technology is only picking up steam and continuing to reinvent many aspects of our lives, from the way we do business, and the way we find dates and jobs, to the way we run for political office. \u00a0\nThe internet was born when the first Arpanet link was established between the University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute at 22:30 hours on October 29, 1969. UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock and his student Charley Kline sent the first message to Bill Duval, a programmer at Stanford University. That first communication was the spark that ignited the growth of the internet and everything it has brought with it \u2013 email, sharing pictures on Facebook, buying books and toasters on Amazon, watching movies on Netflix, cat videos, mean-spirited memes and election-tampering bots.\n\nREAD MORE: Evolution of the internet: Celebrating 50 years since Arpanet\n\nThe spark was lit in 1969, but the internet really began to transform our lives in the late \u201890s to early 2000s.\n\u201cOh, the internet is turning 50, but that first internet connection between Stanford and UCLA was between two guys. It didn\u2019t involve the whole planet,\u201d says Genevieve Bell, a Senior Fellow at Intel Corp. and director of the Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute at the Australian National University. \u201cIt really started to change our lives and shake our consciousness around the time when Google became a verb. It all exploded at the intersection of Google, smartphones, apps, Amazon, Facebook and eBay.\u201d\nIt\u2019s difficult to quantify how the internet has changed the world.\nIf someone needs directions, most no longer go to the car to pull out a map. If it\u2019s the middle of the night, they don\u2019t have to wait till their bank opens at 9 a.m. to find out how much money is in their checking account. What did the president say at a rally last night? Go online to read his comments. We file our taxes online. We order food online.\n\u201cThe internet has changed our ideas of time and space and distance,\u201d Bell says. \u201cThe internet can instantly tell us who was president in 1969, and what hours the new restaurant in town is open. We can watch a rover moving around on Mars. I can keep track of my friends in America from Australia.\u201d\nThe internet also has created new communities, bringing together people from all over the world because they share a common love for the same band, Pez dispensers or a TV chef. Of course, the existence of the internet also means anonymous online trolls can flood social media with hateful comments, and overseas bots can post negative and untruthful tweets about politicians and celebrities to incite anger, dissension and even violence.\nAnd while enterprises of all sizes use the internet to streamline their supply chain management operations and connect customers more closely with their brands, they also have to deal with hackers stealing customers\u2019 financial information, or competing corporations and nation states planting negative online comments or using the internet to spy on their product plans or financials.\nPrivacy, or the increasing loss of it, also is a problem thanks to the internet \u2013 or more accurately, thanks to the way we use the internet .\n\u201cAs the years have passed, the internet has been getting smarter,\u201d says David Reinsel, a senior vice president at IDC, a technology analyst firm. \u201cYou\u2019re no longer just going somewhere. It\u2019s watching you go somewhere, and it is learning about you by what you purchase and what you search and what you \u2018like.\u2019 With everything you do online, you leave a trail of information. Your digital self is more you than your physical self now. And it\u2019s pushing information at you based on what it knows about you.\u201d\nCompanies are using all of that personal information to strategically target individual users with specific advertisements and marketing.\n\u201cBefore a company would create a product for men or for a particular generation,\u201d Reinsel says. \u201cNow with the information they\u2019re getting about us online, they can tailor it down to the individual. Think about the day you walk into a restaurant and you\u2019re greeted by name and you\u2019re presented a menu that takes into account what foods you like and your allergies. We\u2019re not there yet, but that\u2019s where we\u2019re heading. The downside, though, is if that restaurant tells your health insurance company that you ordered the banana split. I have a problem with that.\u201d\nCompanies have a lot of opportunities to siphon information about our likes and dislikes, our political leanings, our hobbies and our 2 a.m. shopping sprees because our laptops, tablets and smartphones have become something of an extra appendage. We\u2019re rarely unconnected. The thought of it makes many people anxious and feel at loose ends. Surveys have shown that while many people scroll online news sites, Twitter and Facebook over their morning coffee, others can\u2019t even wait until they get out of bed to check to see what\u2019s happening in the world or what memes are being posted. We\u2019re addicted.\u00a0\nWe\u2019re so connected that entire businesses \u2013 AirBnB, Uber, GrubHub and online mega giant Amazon \u2013 exist totally online.\nPervasive internet connectivity, brain-computer interfaces\nSo if the internet has changed our lives this dramatically in the last 50 years or even the last 15 years, what could the next 15 or 50 years bring?\nWhile the internet has created the opportunity for people to work productively and successfully all while being out of the office, the advancement of technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality will only add to the power of telecommuting tools like Skype, Zoom, instant messaging and Slack, according to Marc Weber, internet history program founder at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.\n\u201cThere are companies that are really using remote technology to change the way they work,\u201d Weber says. \u201cBut when we get satisfactory virtual reality over the Web and other remote enabling technologies, there will be an even bigger change. If you make it easy to do telepresence or other ways to virtually connect people, that will change the way people work.\u201d\nWhile Google failed with the initial release of its Google Glass wearable technology, which was widely panned as awkward and creepy, Weber predicts that more, and better, wearable devices will hit the market, and that will help change the way we connect to the internet.\n\u201cRight now, we access the internet through these tiny screens we carry in our pockets,\u201d Weber says. \u201cWhether it\u2019s something like Google Glass, advances in smart watches, or a brain-computer interface so we can surf the Web in our mind\u2019s eye, there will be some new technology that makes it easier to access the internet. We couldn\u2019t predict Airbnb and Yelp before smartphones became common. How can we predict what will happen when we can get information through our brain-computer interface? The next big advance in how we access the internet will change the medium again.\u201d\nKleinrock, who today is a distinguished professor of computer science at UCLA, has great hopes for the next 10 or 20 years of the internet. For starters, we\u2019ll be even more connected than we are now, he says, and that\u2019s going to enable another exciting round of technological growth.\nInstead of simply being well connected to the internet at home, in the office or at the local cafe, we\u2019ll have a strong, fast connection when we\u2019re walking the dog, traveling in the country or out in the middle of nowhere.\nPicture a day when you wake up on 5G, have 5G access in your car and out in the world. You\u2019d have a continuous flow of information, with persistent authentication unlocking everything from your car to your office building and your mailbox. Sensors in the front door to your house might check your walking gait and your heart rate, and then connect to a chip in your body, and unlock the door as you approach it.\n\u201cI foresee a pervasive global nervous system on this planet so wherever you go, the internet is available and accessible,\u201d Kleinrock says. \u201cAnd the internet of things will explode. We\u2019ll be able to take cyber space that lives in your laptops and cell phones and embed it in the walls, in our cars and in our bodies with logic, memory, sensors, cameras, microphones and displays. You won\u2019t have to see them or touch them. We\u2019ll have this invisible network. Add to that the fact that we will have intelligent software agents that live in the network and alert you to things, seek out things you want and handle your priorities. It\u2019ll be maybe 10 years before we have the proper interface, like speech and brain wave sensing, so instead of flapping my tongue, I\u2019ll be able to communicate with my walls or car by just thinking about something.\u201d\nDark side of internet connectivity\nHowever, Kleinrock also envisions negatives in this futuristic scenario.\nWhat if that widespread access doesn\u2019t apply to everyone or every country?\n\u201cI do worry that we\u2019re in for trouble,\u201d he says. \u201cI\u2019m concerned that nation states will put walls around their national networks and won\u2019t communicate with others. China, Russia, Turkey, even the EU \u2013 what if you can\u2019t move from one of these areas of the internet to another? If we break up into separate networks, we lose an awful lot. We lose the ability to roam around without boundaries, and that has made the internet so powerful.\u201d\nCharles Severance, clinical professor of information at the University of Michigan, says he also fears that what he calls today\u2019s golden age of universal internet connectivity will go away.\n\u201cI think there will be dark forces, whether companies or governments, that will control our connections,\u201d says Severance, who teaches a course called Internet History, Technology and Security. \u201cWhat if there\u2019s a day when people will only be approved to connect to Facebook? Try to go to another site and the connection won\u2019t work. Whoever holds these shared resources will become traffic cops and they will make you bribe them or pay them for resources.\u201d\n\u201cWe are in the golden age of the internet,\u201d Severance says. \u201cIn 50 years, we\u2019ll say, \u2018When I was a kid, you could connect from anywhere. You could put up any website.\u2019 And kids will say, \u2018What?\u2019 It\u2019ll be so sad that only old people will remember how great the internet was. I\u2019m not looking forward to the next 50 years. I\u2019m just really happy now.\u201d\n\nLearn more\n\n17 predictions about 5G networks and devices\nGartner's top 10 strategic technology trends for 2020\nCoding, cloud skills are most in demand for network pros\nWhat is 5G? How is it better than 4G?