The Internet as aberration

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Internet is a temporary aberration in the history of the human race. For the first time any human can communicate with any other in real time regardless of where they may be; with satellite and wireless you can access the Internet anywhere on the planet. This wasn’t possible before the 21st century and it won’t be possible in the 22nd.

The problem is the speed of light. A message on a fibre-optic cable can travel around the world in little more than a tenth of a second, but even the round-trip time to the Moon is three seconds, making real-time communication difficult. Certainly it’s a long delay for interaction with a web site, which will take at least that time to respond to clicking a link.

Beyond the Moon the problem only grows worse. Mars is minutes away at best and half an hour at worst. Pluto is nearly six hours each way. The Oort cloud is around a year, equivalent to sending a message to Australia and back in Captain Cook’s era. The nearest star… send an email and you can expect a reply in the next decade.

This is a special time. Make the most of it.

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