The Internet and Communications Technology - Our Ever Changing World
Moore’s law basically states that the capabilities of our technology will double every 18 months. This law of exponential growth has held true in almost every piece of technology that we can think of. The field of internet and communications technology (ICT) is no different. The explosive growth of the Internet is a prime example of this.
Google has also jumped on the ICT bandwagon by adding new features to their website everyday. There now are a host of free technologies that are offered by Google to the general public. These include but are not limited to: Google Search, Google Maps, Google Earth, Google 411, Google Voice, Google Books, … etc. Lets not forget about Google's famed Android operating system for cellular phones as well as the more recent Social network Google+. All of these technologies have spawned from information and communication technology. It is now easier than ever to find a phone number, order take out, or to look up information on your favorite author. Does anyone know what an atlas is anymore? Just 15 years ago, we didn’t have any of this technology.
I still consider the Internet in its infancy; its only been around for 19 years (public use anyway). Cellular phones haven't been around for all that long either. They were first made available to the public in the late 1990s. All this rapid change has happened in less than two decades, imagine what the world will be like in just two more. Will cell phones shrink so small that they become nearly invisible (or possibly nano-scale implantable devices)? Will computers become so powerful that they can see a human error before it even happens? Will people even be able to have jobs because technology has taken over? While some of these ideas sound far-fetched, any one of them could be a part of possible future.
But with change comes consequences. Everyone’s cell phones, computers, and other devices consume a significant amount of power. Newer devices, although they may be more efficient, will still require power. Advances in battery technology will need to be made to keep up with the ever changing demands of our devices. Its foreseeable that Lithium may one day become a very expensive and rare element. But with each problem that arises, new machines and methods get invented to solve it (thus changing technology again and so on and so forth). It's much like the saga of the electric car, which is only now gaining popularity by the way, because the technology has allowed to compete with the gas guzzler of the past.
There are other things to consider as well. An increasing use of wireless technology has already started to create “traffic jams” on our airwaves. Cell phones, radio, and the like compete for use of prime frequencies. Remember when the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan a few weeks ago? Their cell phone network failed during that catastrophe. It wasn't the quake that did it in, but all the frantic phone calls. Many parts of the country face this issue as we speak. In the future, its probable that there will be no place on the planet that is free of “noise" on the airwaves.
People will have more freedoms in the future than they have now. Freedom of choice will be the dominant ideology in the future. The Internet already gives us many more choices today than we had in the past. Don't want to the store? You can choose to shop online instead. Don't feel like going to the library? You can choose to check out books from Amazon and Google instead. This functionality of the internet will only become easier to use and more popular as time goes on. It won’t be long before people won’t have to leave their homes. Want fresh hot food? That’s one IP address away. Want movies, TV, and videogames? Just click a few buttons on your computer and you have instant entertainment. Need to go to work? Well now you can work from home and converse with coworkers in real time through instant video transfers. Anything and everything will become home capable in the future. In the future, I foresee an increase in shipping businesses and a decrease in retail businesses.
All of these increases in technology will put a large and definite strain on the current infrastructure. Cities will have to manage this changes, and they will have to do it quickly. Many smaller cities still don’t have standards in place for the installation and maintenance of modern fiber optics. What will happen when the single set of fragile cable an entire city relies on gets damage? Combine this with the fact that most of the nations infrastructure is already 50+ years old, its not unlikely that we could experience an infrastructure failure in the future.
Cities will also have to deal with lost revenues as the brick and mortar store slowly disappear. Ever slow as governments may be to change, it is inevitable that they will begin to use the internet to increase revenues. Many municipalities have already begun drafting bills to tax the internet. This doesn't just include internet retail sales either. Government will evolve into eGovernment and the citizens of will experience something that has truly never been done before.
We've left the industrial age and entered the information age. The available science and technology is and will continue to rapidly change and evolve. The tribulations and triumphs of the future are unknowable, but it is certain that these changes will continue to have an ever lasting effect on our world. It is also certain that cities, agencies, and every individual in the country will experience the profound rewards and detriments of this changing world.
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