Now Jeremy Rifkin endeavors to take us one step further. In Zero Marginal Cost Society, he argues for the next step in the human journey, applying the principles and benefits of zero marginal cost virtual space to physical reality. Decentralized renewable energy production at near zero post-investment cost enveloped in ubiquitous wireless computing and sensing networks, the Internet of Things (IoT). The pervasive truth of existence in a capitalist system, Rifkin maintains, is giving way to a hybrid economy; incorporating both traditional capitalism and the growing segment of technologically empowered peer-to-peer individuals Rifkin so eloquently calls the "Collaborative Commons."
But could the Internet of future generations be even more revolutionary? Keeping in mind that the Internet evolved largely without any central guidance – recently, the US government announced it will “transition out of managing domain names and addresses for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)” – what new forms or functions will this global system take as technologies such as robotics, autonomous vehicles, ubiquitous sensors, and others move toward an online presence? To understand these changes, we trace the Internet through four major stages of Web 1.0 to 4.0.