20 years ago, David Bowie predicted the internet would take over the world

He described the then new medium as an "alien life form". 

In an interview with BBC Newsnight from 1999, David Bowie and journalist Jeremy Paxman discuss the potential power of the relatively new internet, a conversation which has since resurfaced following the anniversary of his death and its remarkable accuracy.

When the World Wide Web was introduced to the public in 1993, a new online world was launched. While most welcomed the new medium, the ever-wise David Bowie warned it should be met with trepidation.

“I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable,” he told Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman. Rejecting the interviewer’s rebuttal that the internet is simply a tool, Bowie called it an “alien life form”.

“The actual context, and the state of content, is going to be so different to anything we can really envisage at the moment,” he continued.

“Where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

In ’99, you’d be forgiven for sneering at the far-fetched futuristic musings of the notoriously quirky rock star, but two decades on Bowie’s predictions ring eerily true. There was a time when mediums for mass-communication were a one-way street – the media sent a message via broadcast or print and the listener received it. Fast-forward 20 years and we can send a message directly to news outlets or Prime Ministers to give our two cents in mere seconds. The internet has undeniably obliterated our sense of mediums and our relationships with them.

In a world where we carry the internet with us wherever we go, like a palm-sized digital safety net, it’s difficult to imagine the world before smartphones and social media. The internet has cushioned our lives with such a degree of convenience that a flat iPhone battery can have us in utter disarray, unable to manage simple tasks. How do I know how much money I have? How will I get from point A to point B? What time is it? We’ve managed to upload basically our entire lives onto the web.

I guess the message to glean here is you should always accept anything David Bowie said as dogma.