Our look at the Internet would not be complete without taking a quick look at where it all started, where it has gone and where the techies say it’s going from here. The Internet has a fascinating history and growth, and future predictions may be different than you think.
Of course, we all are aware of the fact that the Internet has revolutionized our lives. The younger generations have taken it for granted every day of their lives. But for us that are of the Baby Boomer and Builder generation, this technology has not always been around.
Today you can access just about anything you desire, anytime, anywhere from your mobile device. Not in “our day!” What we have grown accustomed to these days was unthinkable in the 1950’s and 60’s (Except for a few smart Geeks). Back then, if you were away from your home phone you simply could not be reached.
Today we feel uneasy if we forget to bring our cell phone on our walk down the driveway to pick up the paper.
But the power of the Internet is truly amazing and, when used properly, can be a force for productivity and good in our culture. When used not so wisely, it can be a source of chaos and even devastation.
Wikipedia states that “the history of the Internet began with the development of electronic computers in the 1950’s.” This was the farthest thing from any average person’s mind in those days when Frank Sinatra was crooning and Elvis was quivering. But it began and by the 1960’s “packet switching” was being developed, and it was only a matter of time until this technology would explode.
1961-1967 seems to have been pivotal years. Three separate teams at three separate locations were working on packet switching technology during these years. Teams at MIT, RAND and NPL, based in the UK were all working on this without any of them aware of the other’s efforts.
Computer networks were developed, and the first network to use the Internet Protocol was called ARPANET, after being awarded a contract by the US Defense Department. A computer science professor and the first to write a paper on packet switching (1962), Leonard Kleinrock, is credited with being the first to send a message over ARPANET. The original baud rate speed used was 2.4 kbps, and it was soon upgraded to 50 kbps. This, of course, is like elephants trudging in mud compared to the Gigabyte speeds we experience today.
Many today view the Internet and The World Wide Web as the same thing. But they are not the same.
The Internet is a massive computer network stretching around the globe that is not owned by anyone. It is so powerful because of “overlapping technology” of sub-networks that categorize all the different information.
One writer explains, “So another way of looking at it is to say that the Internet is composed of the machines, hardware and data, and the World Wide Web is what brings this technology to life.”
Some interesting statistics:
. 1993 – The percentage of the population with Internet was 0.3% with a world population of 5.5 billion
. 2014 – The percentage of the population with Internet is 40.4% with the world population at 7.2 billion
. It took the radio 38 years, the television 13 years and the WWW 4 years to reach 50 million users
. 80% of all emails are spam (I can attest to that!)
. Domain names are being registered at a rate of over 1 million per month
. 80% of all pictures on the Internet are of naked women
. In 2010, 1 of every 8 married couples in the US met online
. The ethnic group that has the largest percent of Internet users is Asian at 73% and second is Caucasian at 69%
. The average number of hours spent using a computer each month is 66 hours
. The amount of web searches per month in the US is 11 billion
. The total number of emails sent each day is 210 billion
Since 2004, The Pew Research Center and Elon University have conducted six surveys of Internet experts considering the future of the Internet. Professor Janna Anderson of Elon University sys that the current survey is the first that has included as much negative as positive predictions. “They worry about interpersonal ethics, terror, and crime and inevitable backlash as governments and industry try to adjust,” she says.
Here are some of their predictions:
. Information sharing over the Internet will become so effortlessly interwoven into daily life that it will become invisible, flowing like electricity, often through machine intermediaries.
. The spread of the Internet will enhance global connectivity, fostering more positive relationships among societies. (Well, we can also believe in pixie dust and unicorns.)
. Artificial intelligence and big data will make people more aware of their world and their own behavior.
. Augmented reality and wearable devices will be implemented to monitor and give quick feedback on daily life, especially in regard to personal health.
. An Internet-enabled revolution in education will spread more opportunities with less money spent on buildings and teachers.
. Dangerous divides between “haves” and “have-nots” may expand, resulting in resentment and possible violence. (See #3 above.)
. Abuses and abusers will “evolve and scale.” Human nature isn’t changing; there’s laziness, bullying, stalking, stupidity, pornography, dirty tricks, crime and the offenders will have new capacity to make life miserable for others. (See #3 above.)
. Pressured by these changes, governments and corporations will try to assert power – and at times succeed – as they invoke security and cultural norms. (See #3 above.)
. People will continue – sometimes grudgingly – to make trade-offs favoring convenience and perceived immediate gains over privacy; and privacy will be something only the upper class will enjoy.
. Most people are not yet noticing the profound changes today’s communications networks are already bringing about; these networks will be even more disruptive in the future.
(Excerpts from an article by Bridget Shirvell, March 11, 2014)
. The Internet will change so quickly you won’t be able to keep up.
. The Internet will make us incredibly lonely.
. Or…The Internet just won’t even exist.
“Retired software engineer Robert McGrath thinks there is a 50/50 chance that the Internet won’t exist at all. Citing Cyber-attacks, McGrath hypothesizes that the World Wide Web could be brought to its knees…dragging the economy and the world as we know it down with it.”
Well, I didn’t really mean to end on a negative note, but let’s put all of this in perspective.
Man’s inventions have been wonderful. The Industrial Revolution sparked an exponential increase in knowledge and ability, which has eventually led to the Information Age, prosperity and total feelings of self-sufficiency. Humanists tout man as the center of the universe and the one who will find answers in science to all the world’s problems.
But, try as they might, the experts now in science and technology are throwing up their hands in frustration without answers. These sincere, technologically brilliant men and women are now seeing that man is not getting better and because of that, the future of the Internet is not positive, but uncertain at its best and dangerous at its worst.
Technology, science and critical thinking will always fall short of their intended goal of making a Utopian world. Man is not the center of the universe, is imperfect and can only produce imperfect stuff. Machines break and humans are always scheming on how to scam others, demand their own ways or just disrupt someone else’s lifestyle.
Again, the Bible stands as the bastion of understanding the human heart and what it takes to experience a fulfilled life. We just cannot escape that truth.
Written by wise King Solomon, Proverbs 16:9, 25, 16 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps…There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way to death…How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”