To say that the internet and particularly mobile connectivity have revolutionised the lives of the average Briton would be an incredible understatement. Following our recent post on the impending deliverance of 5G to the London area (The advent of 5G Internet - why you should care but probably don’t), we’ve been thinking about the vast impacts digital connectivity has had on our lives and whether the next ten years will match, or perhaps even exceed, their significance.
Ten years from now, data speeds of 1000mbs (1GB) could become widespread. Experts have heralded The Gigabit Age.
The average global connection speed in the first quarter of 2014 was 3.9 Mbps, with the highest (South Korea) maxing out at around 23.6 Mbps. Experts (or futurologists as they are known in the trade), may say we will experience an incredible increase in internet data speeds but few are willing to predict how this will effect our everyday lives.
Most experts aren’t keen to risk their reputation in such a notoriously fickle field.
The ‘Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age’ report carried out by Pew Research Centre and Elon University has collated the digital prophecies of 1,464 experts. Predictions range from the mildly surprising, to the downright implausible.
Here are a few that caught our eye.
Holographic coworkers and Cloud immigrants.
A recurring prediction was the potential for the wide use of holograph technology. As though flesh and blood co-workers weren’t enough to handle.
Specifically identified as an area for potential deployment of such technology was the work place, where holographic representations of coworkers and clients could stand alongside their counterparts allowing collaboration to take place from the next room / building / town / country / continent.
According to futurist Marcel Bullinga, “No doubt the killer app will be real-life holograms operating in real time: for instance, as doctors, as surgeons, as co workers. It will change the workplace. Not only will it diminish the need for business travel, it will also increase competition in the labour market immensely. Whereas before you had to compete with fellow humans in the same physical area, immigrants for example, in the future you have to compete with ‘cloud immigrants’—co-workers appearing in their work as a hologram.”
24 / 7 Health monitoring and remote surgery
This is less outlandish given the interest around wearable technology and health monitoring. Quite sophisticated robotic surgery techniques have also made significant strides in recent years… but perhaps ‘remote robotic surgery’ is a stride too far?
According to Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google, “The big story here is continuous health monitoring... It will be much cheaper and more convenient to have that monitoring take place outside the hospital. You will be able to purchase health-monitoring systems just like you purchase home-security systems. Indeed, the home-security system will include health monitoring as a matter of course. Robotic and remote surgery will become commonplace.”
A major disruption of Nations
“The global nature of connectivity could foster an integrated world economy, breaking down the importance of nations and governments” said Alison Alexander from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication
This raises an interesting question about how increased connectivity is affecting our society on a more fundamental level.
Increased internet speeds could potentially alter the structure of national and global relations.
Will the gigabit age see a movement towards a more politically and economically unified world?
Amongst some of the other predictions were these little nuggets
- 3D Printed Recyclable clothing
- Immersive 3D digital experiences in everything from shopping to socialising
- Full video life-streaming i.e. Collecting and storing information on every moment of a person’s life
- Avatar representations in ‘the real world’
A great many of the predictions contained within this report seem far-fetched. But wouldn't our ancestors have said the same about electricity, flying or walking on the moon?
Read our previous post on internet speeds: The advent of 5G Internet - why you should care but probably don’t.
Eoin O'Hara is a business developer and lead content writer at Startacus.net. He has a background combining arts and culture with strategic business development, and now plays a central role in the growth of the Startacus brand. Startacus.net, The Self Start Society, is the place for enterprising people to learn, share, connect and bring ideas to life. Follow them at @Iamstartacus