News & Opinion | July 2, 2018 8:52 am

Creator of the World Wide Web Has a Plan to Save It

Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee believes the current Internet needs a reboot.

Tim Berners-Lee
Computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee attends the PHD Worldwide seminar as part of Cannes Lions International Festival of creativity. (Francois G. Durand/Getty Images)
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Nearly three decades ago, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. But now, he wants to save it. Berners-Lee  attended Oxford and worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) before 1989, when he came up with the idea that eventually became the Web. His innovation was supposed to help scientists share data across a then obscure platform called the Internet. But he decided to release the source code for free, which made the Web an open and democratic platform for all, and his brainchild quickly took a life of its own. Since then, Berners-Lee has been named one of the 20th century’s most important figures by Time, he was knighted by the Queen, honored at the Olympics, and he received the Turing award for achievements in computer sciences. He never directly profited from his creation, but he has spent most of his life trying to guard it. He has seen it debased by fake news and mass surveillance and now, he wants to fix it.

Berners-Lee has been working on a new software, Solid, that will “reclaim the Web from corporations and return it to its democratic roots,” according to Vanity Fair. Berners-Lee estimates that about half the world’s population, around 4 billion people, will be connected online by sometime this November, all sharing resumés, DNA information, and political views. As each person joins, they will add more information to the Web, making it more powerful and valuable. But, increasingly, he fears these connections are making his brainchild potentially more dangerous.