Staying Ahead of the Revolution

By John M. Eger | Posted 3/15/22

There is no doubt that there is a race in the world for broadband because broadband is the link to the Internet, the new digital world of prosperity, and the age of creativity and innovation. In fact, some countries are giving it away to advance the health, wealth and well-being of their nation. Non-techies need to know where tech is going.

Many people ask what the limit of broadband is? Frankly, it's limitless… and it is the infrastructure of the future. That is why broadband is as important — maybe more important — as waterways, railroads, and interstate highways of an earlier era. Cities of the future will have 24/7 broadband telecommunications in place, wired and wireless infrastructures connecting every home, school and office — and through the World Wide Web — to every organization or institution worldwide.

With satellites at 22,500 miles in space, electronic watches getting smarter every day, microwave and cable and Wi-Fi systems dotting the landscape, everything is tied to everything else. The global village is here. It's not on all fours with the village concept, but still an indication of the technological advances that have happened in the last two decades.

Compared to what we experienced 100 or so years ago, what has occurred is beyond our comprehension. For example, historians say thousands attended Lincoln's historic address in 1839 at Gettysburg. But because of his high-pitched squeaky voice, and, of course, no sound systems, only about 200 heard it. (1)

Fast forward and 100 years ago, JFK was shot in Dallas, Texas and billions saw, read, or heard about the assassination within 24 hours. When the twin towers fell, most people in the world saw it instantly. The point is that we have made such progress that we have shrunk time and space and, in the process, as Thomas Friedman acknowledged, shrunk the world.

The Internet of Things (IoT) using embedded sensors, processors, and communication hardware creates unique opportunities. Now the idea of connecting almost anything, of any size or complexity is a reality. Even art galleries and museums are available with the click of a mouse.

Almost 10 years ago MIT's Nicholas Negroponte and Neil Gershenfeld noted in Wired: "For hardware and software to comfortably follow you around, they must merge into software. The difference in time between loony ideas and shipped products is shrinking so fast that it's now, oh, about a week." (2) Gershenfeld also writes in When Things Start to Think: "Beyond seeking to make computers ubiquitous, we should try to make them unobtrusive…. The real promise of connecting computers is to free people, by embedding the means to solve problems in the things around them." (3)

Internet 2

Grid computing experiments tying hundreds of computers together, enabling large scale projects operating at 100 times the speed of ordinary sites, are everywhere. And with cloud computing providers can store data normally at an individual server, and more work can be done, more cheaply at the individual site or promises to in the cloud. 5G, the next generation of Wi-Fi, will operate at 10 times faster and more cheaply too, opening the way for all types of IoE systems.

We are witnessing in every sector Moore's law at work, and with it, more applications that vastly increase productivity. This is good news for the economy but not always for job seekers. Now robots coupled with artificial intelligence enabled by Big Data and 5G are the real threats to jobs.

Many nations are unhappy with the Internet as it exists today and are looking for alternatives, from extranets to intranets to special controls of the existing net. Balkanization, or as it is also called, splinternet, is a reality.

Most nations don't like the U.S. influence, real or perceived, and believe there are too many sites they would rather their citizens not have access to or that they currently block, for example, porn sites. Many are concerned with the fact, as Edward Snowden revealed, that the U.S. and perhaps others are spying on them. The US's NSA allegedly listened to cell phone calls of Germany's former Prime Minister, Angela Merkel.

If nations create their own versions of the net, it will be difficult to conduct global business. Corporations, large and small, are likely to find ecommerce more difficult. Many corporations also would rather have offerings with greater bandwidth or transmission at greater speeds.

A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute (4) forecasts up to 800 million workers worldwide could lose their jobs to automation by 2030. Industrial machine operators, administrators, and service workers will be the first to take a hit. Meanwhile, poorer countries with lower investment in tech are less likely to feel the pinch.

The real question is, will robots replace your job or make room for you to pursue a new career? Probably not as much as you might think, but more than you might imagine. The McKinsey study shows that while humans are handing over a larger share of labor hours to their robot counterparts, and although 75 million jobs could be displaced by the coming shift in labor, there will be 133 million new jobs created. While certain jobs are becoming redundant, human skills remain in demand in other areas.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "In field after field, the ability to collect data has exploded — in biology, with its burgeoning databases of genomes and proteins; in astronomy, with the petabytes flowing from sky surveys; in social science, tapping millions of posts and tweets that ricochet around the internet. The flood of data can overwhelm human insight and analysis, but the computing advances that helped deliver it have also conjured powerful new tools for making sense of it all." (5) End


  1. Wills, Garry, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words that Remade America (Simon & Schuster Lincoln Library), 1992.
  2. Negroponte, Nicolas and Gershenfeld, Neil, Wearable Computing. WIRED, December 1995.
  3. Gershenfeld, Neil, When Things Start to Think, 1st Edition, Henry Holt, 1999.
  4. McKinsey Global Institute, Jobs lost, jobs gained: The Future of Work.
  5. Appenzeller, Tim, The AI revolution in science, AAAS, July 7, 2017.

©2022 John M. Eger. All rights reserved.

John M. EgerJohn M. Eger, Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University is an internationally known author and lecturer on the subjects of creativity and innovation, telecommunications and economic development. ...