Quick poll on future communications


in Economics, Geek stuff, Politics

Between now and the demise of the human race (when the universe ends, if not before), will there ever be a time when there is no system with the following characteristics:

  1. Capability to transmit data to most parts of the world with significant human populations.
  2. Affordability for almost anyone with a moderate income in a moderately rich state.
  3. Accessible by most members of relatively free societies.

Basically, it should allow someone in a major populated area of North America to communicate in real time with someone in Asia, as well as transmit data.

Personally, I think something akin to the internet will exist from now on. Even in a future with harshly constrained resources or radically shifted geopolitics, it seems like the kind of thing that is too valuable to give up, especially given the relatively modest costs associated with maintaining it.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

R.K. August 26, 2008 at 11:39 am

My guess:

Not only will the Internet exist, it will be available wirelessly almost everywhere. This will be true between 20 years from now and the end of history.

Chris Berry September 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I don’t think there is any question about the existence of communications networks. The bigger question is whether technological advancements in communication will outstrip the ability of repressive regimes to contain them. Taken a step further, can repressive regimes even survive when the flow of information is truly uninhibited?

Milan September 2, 2008 at 5:27 pm

I think recent history shows that hopes of the internet overwhelming repressive governments have been overblown.

In a partially free society, communication tools can aid people who bring down the state. In truly repressive places like North Korea or Myanmar, the ability of the state to control civil society is not hampered by the existence of the internet or cell phones elsewhere.

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