The Infosphere - 2020
This is the year 2010, the last of the first decade of the 21st Century. As the year draws to a close the global population is over 6 billion, divided roughly into three groups: the abject poor, the developing strugglers and the technology users. Each of these groups transcend regional and national boundaries, but the technology users group has a unifying factor that is not available to the other two. This unifying factor is the technology of the Internet.
The Internet is a global resource that enables its users to be in near instant communication with any other user in any country in the world. Although nationalism and patriotism yet prevail, the users of the Internet are coming to understand the nature of their fast access to information, the power of information, and the inability of governments to maintain sovereignty over information movement. Indeed, the users are coming to more and more consider themselves “netizens” as well as citizens.1 This attitude of diminished identification with a political entity is especially true among the younger netizens, those between 14 and 25. Hand-in-hand with this reduced nationalism is the developing dissatisfaction with organized faith groups, particularly in Europe, Australia/New Zealand and North America.
The youth of the most affluent regions of the world, to some extent including Japan, Singapore and the Philippines, increasingly dismiss the need for disciplined unity in any sense, modeling their behavior on the free-flow behavior of the internet. Until the deeper disciplines of standards and protocols are closely examined the internet can be, and is perceived by many as anarchy’s working model. Technology developments coming in the near future will further confirm this perception.
The most liberating development of the internet’s immediate future is the direct broadcast satellite.2 That technology already exists in two stable applications: the direct video broadband service to fixed residences and to mobile vehicles as operated by Hughes DirecTV. The satellites that support this service are geosynchronous and also carry Inmarsat, a global voice system capable of connecting any two points of the
earth between the 10° parallels. This capability, combined with current data storage and search capabilities will bring to life the global “infosphere”.
The “infosphere” will comprise the trillions of terabytes of information on line in the data bases of the world, the massive search/analysis technologies of systems such as Google® and WolframAlpha 3, and the global connectivity of direct broadcast satellites. With the processing power available today in smart-phones and the local broadband capacity of cellular technology, we have a rudimentary infosphere. The principle lack is the coverage of ground based cells and compatibility across the provider established barriers that protect profits.
In the coming infosphere environment a “Glinfonet” (global information network) device will place a user in the jungle of Brazil , a professor in Geneva and an investigator in Boston in full audio/video communication to discuss a new species complete with on-the-fly graphics, computed projections forecasting growth or loss under specific conditions of weather and human incursion/development of the habitat. A ship Master in the remote areas of the Pacific Ocean can access weather information, discuss forecasts along different routes with weather experts and include a risk assessment from the owner and the insurance representative.
The Infosphere Age will free our species from the constraints of ignorance and allow the human mind to roam freely through this environment and the cosmos. It will not banish ignorance for there are those who wish to be ignorant. But those who wish to cast off the bonds of information access need only pick up the Glinfonet device and ask their question. The implications of the effect on society, education, and behavior will be truly amazing.
1. Internet users <http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm>
2. Direct Broadcast Satellite Technology <http://bnrg.eecs.berkeley.edu/~randy/Daedalus/BARWAN/DBS.html>
3. WolframAlpha <http://www.wolframalpha.com/about.html>
Coming Next: Effects
If you would like to forecast how the instantaneous availability of information anywhere in the world will affect the global society please email the webcrafter