short.cummings

…could the internet be killed?

Posted in Business, News, Politics, Tech by collinevan on April 7, 2008

That’s what this article in the Times UK is claming. Apparently, some scientist from the very labs that helped develop the internet infrastructure are working on a new build called “The Grid”. Besides sounding like it came from the Matrix, what’s it all about?

Well this new “Grid” boasts a potential of download speeds 10,000x faster than what we get now. You can get your movies, games, music, information all so fast you won’t have time to sift it.

Can someone hack the code on the time/space continuum next?

There are going to be a few things to consider if we let technology progress this fast. I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but we’ll have a lot to deal with.

Controlling Piracy

As of right now, if you want to log on and download a movie or game, you’ll be on for awhile. It’s already overwhelming for companies to control acts of piracy. We all thought these things would mediate themselves over time, but as it turns out companies are still lamenting the fact that their media gets plastered all over the internet for the even “semi tech savvvy” to grab at will. What happens when you can download 10 of your favorite movies in HD quality in 5 seconds? Well, you’re on and off, and no one will notice.

I assume technology to improve tracking for this sort of thing could have the same rate of progression that’s being enjoyed now, but it doesn’t seem to.

Proliferation of Lewd Content

Pornography on the Internet is such a hands-off subject, it’s really a bit disgusting. We like to tell ourselves that it’s a “private matter” and that it’s all about “freedom of communication”. I won’t deny that there are issues like that intertwined into this sort of thing. But, let’s be real about this.

Nothing on the Internet is private. You can be tracked, watched, monitored, and observed every step of the way. The participation in pornography will go beyond your personal computer time. It rears it’s ugly head in marriages. Kids lose sight of the principles of discipline and morality. Pornography on the Internet causes more harm than good to families and relationships.

I love the prospect of max speed informational transfer, but I loathe the idea of opening the floodgates of pornography even more than they already can be.

The Good – A richer, more robust experience

In today’s tech world, we know that it’s useless to fight the existence of the internet. Nobody even wants to. Hulu.com is a great example of this. Large media companies are realizing that it’s best to join the internet as a major new form of entertainment and leverage it for business. We’re starting to get legal access to our favorite shows online, free downloads of our favorite music (thanks Radiohead), and so much crowd sourced information it’s becoming possible for virtually anybody from any country to learn and progress. Informational dispersion can be a great cultural equalizer.

This sort of new internet could give us power beyond the web page. Virtual 3D spaces may be turned from the gaming and social realm more efficiently to the professional realm. Imagine taking a virtual cooking class, where your meal is controlled online and the food responds to properties of real science. Imagine holographic communication and virtual presence only before realized in the fantasies of the elite science fiction nerd. Imagine cloud computing as a reality, where you no longer even have to download a program to use it. Could it be a mainstream future that becomes life?

What happens then? When a login and password are more important than your Social Security number… when your name is equally as attached to your face as it is to your avatar… when you game with hundreds of thousands of people in one single space without a hitch… what happens then? As much as these things are a reality to this day, it’s not nearly as constant as it will be with a faster, more powerful “internet”.

What will this all mean politically? What will it mean socially? What will it mean environmentally?

If this alleged death of the internet is to take place, we have a lot to consider and plan for. Most of our problems and outcomes may have no place in our minds yet. It’s altogether exciting and daunting. We’ll see what happens. For now, i’m just excited that I may one day log into something called “The Grid”

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