This report is the second of two analyzing the insights of hundreds of technology experts who responded in the summer of 2021 to a canvassing of their predictions about the evolution of online public spaces and their role in democracy in the coming years. In response to the primary research question, many said they expect that these forums will be significantly improved by 2035 if reformers, big technology firms, governments and activists tackle the problems created by misinformation, disinformation and toxic discourse. At the same time, they expressed ongoing concerns about the destructive forces in culture and technology that could continue to plague online life and disrupt beneficial change in the coming years.

In that canvassing, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center asked a follow-up question inviting these experts to share their vision for what a better digital world could be like in 2035. This report covers scores of those responses. Many envisioned a vastly more hospitable online environment that facilitates socially enriching relationships; the flowering of knowledge-creating communities; growth of truth-seeking group discussions; and new kinds of interactions enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). At best, they imagine tech-aided collaborations – sometimes global in scale – that can tackle the world’s most pressing questions.