Let’s face it. The Internet and everything about the Internet is brilliant. It helps to connect the billions of us around the world, especially for those who want to stay in touch with loved ones (ahhhh, yes I said “loved ones”). As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m originally from the UK, but have lived in many countries around the world. So for me, the Internet along with the emergence of online “Chat” tools such as Skype (and back in the day, Instant Messenger), have been great for me.
BUT – what if the Internet broke? It’s a scary thought I know, but on the face of it I, again with the many billions of you out there, would be up poop-creek without a paddle. Chaos would undoubtedly ensue, fireballs would reign down on us, and it would be the end of the world. Or would it?
I think it’s fair to say I’m exaggerating just a little bit. But seriously – what would happen to our lives if the Internet did actually break? I’d probably cry.
“Either by accident or on purpose, the Internet will break”
Technologist and Inventor, Danny Hillis in a recent interview with Britain’s BBC News Channel stated,
“I think it’s a very realistic possibility, that either by accident or on purpose, the Internet will break. Maybe not every part of it, but enough of it that will cause real chaos”.
Hmm. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but that strikes fear into me. Why? Well, the problem is, and this is something Hillis refers to in his talk with the BBC, we are using the Internet in a way it wasn’t designed for.
Essentially, the Internet was created for a “community of people that knew each other”. However, as we all know, it is now a global community and it is used for everything – good and bad. And because we rely on it for everything, there will come a time, like Hillis states, that the Internet will break. So, when that time does eventually arrive, what will be the solution?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Right now, because most people are in agreement that the Internet is working just fine as it is, no time is being spent looking into ways to create an alternative solution. Like Hillis says,
“Nobody wants to think about what Plan B is, when Plan A is really working”.
However, if people are not interested in creating a new Internet system that is less fragile and more robust – which we are in fact capable of doing – then it’s crucial we understand that a simpler back-up system is needed.
Hillis proposes this “back-up system” would need to be built using different technology and be kept entirely separate from the current Internet infrastructure. Then, when that fateful day does arrive and the Internet does finally break, we can then at least contact one another and figure out what is going on. And more importantly, how we’re going to fix it.
If not, and we decide to leave the Internet how it is, and assume that it’ll be just fine, then we’ll have to just let the chaos set in, and be constantly reminded day after day about how wrong we were by those “we told you so” guys.
But, having said all that, we managed to survive for decades before the Internet. Even us “dotcom” generation kids survived the early days without it. So if the Internet did break, it might take some time getting used to it not being around, but once we’ve (I’ve) wiped away those tears, like any relationship, we’ll just move on.
What’s your opinion on the fragility of the Internet and whether it will break? Leave your comments below!