Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, making the first proposal for it in March 1989. More than two decades later, he says humans have become so reliant on the Internet, that access to it should now be considered a basic right. In a speech at the MIT symposium on "Computation and the Transformation of Practically Everything", Berners-Lee said that both access to the Web and access to water should be human rights. Although the latter is a more fundamental right, because people simply cannot survive without it, he argued that anyone who lacks the former will fall behind their more connected peers.
"Access to the Web is now a human right," Berners-Lee said according to NetworkWorld. "It's possible to live without the Web. It's not possible to live without water. But if you've got water, then the difference between somebody who is connected to the Web and is part of the information society, and someone who (is not) is growing bigger and bigger."
He also emphasized the importance of making sure the Web does not to become a tool for spreading unfounded rumors and conspiracy theories. One of his goals is to make the Web more useful for scientists to share data and information.
Berners-Lee also compared the Web to the human brain, saying the Web has grown so large that the number of Web pages rivals the number of neurons in one's brain, and as such, the Web must be analyzed, just as we analyze the brain. "To a certain extent, we have a duty about the Web which is greater than our duty about the brain, because with the brain we just analyze it," he said. "But with the Web, we actually get to engineer it. We can change it."
Berners-Lee's comparisons of the World Wide Web to water and the brain are a little extreme, but at the same time, we think the importance of the Internet should never be downplayed. We would argue that the Web is the most important invention in recent history.