No, they won't. They will be the same corporate sellouts as they are today because we keep thinking like this. That mentality needs to die.
We cannot rely on those in power to "protect technology for us" - or anything else, for that matter. We have to do it ourselves. The situation won't magically fix itself just because we sheepishly wait for two or three decades.
People have to realize that most, if not all authority is naturally opposed to progress. Authority depends on the status quo, and will try everything in its power to preserve that. The internet is probably the largest threat to authority in the history of mankind. The recoil against it therefore was not only predictable, but inevitable.
The internet as it is today is the largest functioning system of anarchy that has ever existed - and on a planetary scale, no less. That's scary to some people, if not utterly terrifying. But it's the way forward. Authority trying to preserve itself by all means possible is nothing new. It's to be expected, and must likewise be resisted with every available countermeasure - atterete dominatum.
That is absolutely true, but as the people in power get younger, their reference point for what counts as "progress" advances. Politicians who grew up in the iPad era will be reactionaries against some as-yet-unconceived-of technological or social change, not against iPads.
Using drugs is simply another thing that the ruling class openly admits to doing and doesn't suffer notably for, while they throw the book at any other citizen for doing the same, or less.
e.g. dodging taxes, soliciting prostitutes, cheating on their spouses, not paying child support, hiring illegal immigrants and maybe even covering up the odd mysterious death.
I don't know the specifics but I strongly suspect that coming out against the war on drugs will lose them more support than it would gain them. Support in terms of some mix of votes, finance, influence and connections.
If this was un-true then some politician would have realised that standing for legalisation would win them an election and would have done so by now.
Except they aren't. If at all, they will be getting older. But anyways, age doesn't really matter. Neither does understanding of the current technology. It's the fact that we allow corporations to buy out the government, and continuously run away from responsibility by telling us that 'things are surely going to change in x years / with the next election'. It's highly delusional.
If we want to change something, we can't wait for some authority (usually the government) to solve our problems. We've got to do it ourselves. With or without its consent, and - if required - against it. This resolution is the catalyst for everything else.
When has this ever happened? As technologies approach the refinement of appliances, it looks to me like the general understanding plummets. Under-the-hood complexity all but kills the tinker class and buries the professional class in detail that further muddies their attempts to talk to the average person.
Consider hardware issues. In absolute numbers there may be more hardware tinkers than 25 years ago. But as a ratio of technologists, they're shrinking. And as relevant to popular opinion and voting, the general public has no more (though not clearly less) understanding or appreciation for hardware freedom issues. Trusted computing, the issue of yesterday's hardware freedom battles, is simply the reality of mobile computing.
15 years ago I'd be agreeing with you. But the drunk driving checkpoints, the Patriot Act checkpoints, border security and the TSA nonsense makes it a little difficult for me to trust the public's ability to recognize serving a special interest for what it is, when it's bearing a promise that honest citizens have nothing to fear.
If the RIAA were lobbying for checkpoints, if they insisted it would only affect "rogue" streets and that the critics of their proposal were just those who profited from the flow of illegal goods, I honestly would not feel comfortable enough to bet money on whether people pushed back.
Everyone always thinks these things will make things better for them, while assuming it will cost them nothing.
And as always, some hawk will be saying 'won't someone think of the children'.
When you buy a car, you don't need to worry about whether getting an oil change from Jiffy Lube will get you in trouble the next time you take the car to the dealer for repairs. Those issues are settled, but not for cyberspace. When you buy software or hardware that includes software, no assumptions are safe, and you have to know quite a bit about the law and technology to figure out what your rights might be.
I'm not sure this is true. I'm not saying it isn't, but it's at least not obvious. (Unless you're counting, say, anybody who today owns a smartphone as a technologist.)
When I started programming 20 years ago, pretty much anyone who worked at any level with computers could build a PC. These days, half the programmers I know can barely maintain their machines, let alone build one from parts. 
If you told them they should oppose some piece of legislation because it would bar them from loading whatever OS they wanted on the hardware they purchased, they would (and do) shrug. They fully consider their choice to be synonymous with the hardware they bought in the first place. They don't think it at all odd that Android phones ship with locked bootloaders.
 I don't mean to disparage them; some of them are fantastic programmers. That said, I do know far too many of them who are running home wifi with whatever configuration the Comcast/UVerse guy set up.
How many folks do I have to explain why the Open Systems Interconnect network model doesn't match what happens with TCP/IP over the wire?
I do think that we've create a class of specialists who protect their specialties in part through obfuscation.
The thing about "understanding" and "misunderstanding" is that since any censorship approach would break the web, any effort at censorship benefits from "playing dumb", not describing the complexity of the situation and instead reducing things to simple claims like "we need to stop the bad stuff on the net..."
The one thing that might help us in twenty years is that public might be sophisticated enough to not be as easily fooled by such claims. On the other hand, seventy years of an automobile-based society has not made everyone into auto mechanics...
If anything, future voters who are being born today will grow up with internet services intwined in their lives, and may be even less understanding of the free and open nature of the internet. They may be broadly brand-loyal to an internet property that doesn't yet exist. Imagine a Facebook size company that is for SOPA-like laws because it is funded by vested interests.
No, I'm not optimistic about these things getting better over time. I actually think it needs a second-amendment type intervention to cut off these types of approaches in the future. 'The right to keep and bear websites' - that type of thing.
On the other hand, one thing the internet is good at is routing around attempts to damage it. I can see alternative systems popping up quickly to counteract any regulatory damage to DNS.
If I said it to your ancestors in 1911, would they understand what I mean?
Over time, the median understanding across the majority of the world of any particular technology goes up as more people get exposed to it and its intricacies. As I understand it, Matt is saying that a larger majority of the world will understand the details behind the internet and its vulnerabilities, thus making it easier to communicate why the issues are important.
It speaks to a larger problem with the American political system, in my opinion, which is that the decisions that affect the next two or three generations are being made by people who came of age two or three generations ago, giving the status quo an undesirable inertia.
Geeks are not good at politicking but we're good at technology.
Remind me how well this has worked out for the War on Drugs.
Several issues that currently divide the United States have this property where age matters, and in 20-25 years things that are controversial now might not be considered as controversial. My claim (hope?) is that protecting the internet is one of those issues.
Luckily, even old people like the Internet.
I'm really sorry to break it to you, but Google will not give half a damn about the internet being run by Hollywood as long as they can still mine data and serve ads. "Don't be evil", they say, but that does by no means equal "fight evil". Google isn't some saintly figurehead of internet freedom, they are a corporation like every other, just with better PR.
Google is better off with a decentralized internet of "amateur" content* on which they can serve ads and negotiate a cut of the revenue.
* Pirated content would work for them too, but it's not remotely worth their while to be publicly anti-copyright or to not comply with U.S. law.
But the point here is that the decentralization of the internet actually protects everyone. It prevents a single set of interests from trampling over everyone else's interests.
There are some fine lines being walked in the tech industry. Microsoft hates piracy of their package software, but Bing would face all the same legal issues under SOPA that Google would.
Google wants to maximize freedom for Search and YouTube, but they are also trying to buddy up to big content for products like Google TV and the new music service.
I also think that whatever support for SOPA there is inside Microsoft or Apple or the others (if they indeed support SOPA) has nothing to do with piracy of their package software.
Microsoft at least was built by thriving on piracy. For instance China is one of the biggest consumers of pirated Microsoft software. Do you know what people would do if the Chinese government would find a way to force people to comply right now? Some of them would buy Windows / Office, but a majority won't as Windows / Office is too expensive relative to their monthly income. However China is the biggest emerging market and Microsoft would be stupid to prefer the revenue of a couple of users versus the domination of an entire market full of possibilities.
Just as in the case of software patents, these companies aren't interested in protecting their innovations. Instead they are interesting in having bullets to attack disruptive competition.
It's all about preserving the status quo.
I understand it's not their nature to do so, but the practical considerations certainly encourage that, right? Or are there other non-obvious factors involved?
- Republican Representative Darrell Issa and Democratic
Representative Nancy Pelosi came out against the bill.
When money influences the outcome, something other than democracy is at work.