Unless you’ve severed yourself totally from civilization, you will notice that our world is very connected. The highways of information that span the entire globe make this place ever so much smaller. While it is not by any measure a perfect network (many inhabited areas still have spotty or nonexistent connectivity to the internet), we are headed in that direction.
Innovations in telecommunications technology have by no means slowed down, either. We are still finding even more ways to remotely interact with one another, sometimes at the cost of actual face-to-face communications. To some, this might be a hint to refocus our energies on other areas of human knowledge and technology that still need improvement. With all the applications, programs, websites, and gadgets that enable them, are we thrusting our online presence too closely towards each other?
I think the technology still has a ways to go, and what we have now is great, but I think it can be made even better. Allow me to be the speculative futurist and tell you of technological visions that may already have been created or on its way to actualization.
Massive Data Transmission
At the core of all telecommunications is the idea of data being transmitted from one point to another. The speed, reliability, and precision of our technology already allow us to do feats unimaginable to people in the past. Our current global communication infrastructure can move massive amounts of data: estimates have it that nearly 1 exabyte (that’s times ten to the eighteenth power) of data runs through the entire internet each day, and it is certain that it will exceed that value by significant bounds as better technologies are implemented.
Isn’t that a lot already? Well, the prodigies and innovators are not satisfied at the least. Imagine if your household internet connection can make use of most of your local gigabit ethernet and high-speed wireless connections. That’s right, gigabit bandwidth for every home. The technology’s already here, with fiber optic technologies able to transmit terabits of information effortlessly. Do a casual Google search about it and be amazed.
Two Worlds Become One
We still consider real life and cyberspace to be different realms, but that shouldn’t be the case. The internet is supposed to be an extension of the world we live in, after all. As more online applications connect with and reference the events of your life, the more it becomes part of it.
Endeavors like Google’s Project Glass aim to further integrate our online experience with our everyday lives. With the internet always on and always with you, one ideal aim would be to extend a typical person’s awareness and capabilities. Of course, there’s always the slightly seedier motive of being able to advertise products and services to the user way more effectively…
Distance Will Matter Less
Even with the abundant bandwidth and high-resolution digital video and audio devices, a conversation online, even with HD streaming video, just doesn’t feel as engaging as a face-to-face encounter. This too might change shortly, with breakthroughs in stimulating the senses of touch and even smell.
Fast forward a little farther, feedback can be sent directly to the brain, making the experiences just as “real” to your mind as a regular experience would be. We could effectively transmit and receive pure thoughts: real telepathy. This might still be science fiction as of the moment, but as we continue to understand the intricacies of our most powerful organ, it will only be a matter of time before we unlock its secrets.
The future is bright with all these possibilities, and even as we partake of modern telecommunications today, always bear in mind that whatever may come, we as a people (the human race, and not just some specific ethnicity or nationality) must continue to evolve our culture and collective wisdom just as we do our technology. Powerful technology in the hands of violent and irrational beings is a dangerous thing, indeed.