What is the future of the internet?

What is the future of the internet?

With the advent of the Internet, email, and social media, everyone now has easy access to everything from ordering food to reading the news, paying bills, and even traveling; it’s never been easier or faster. But what does the future hold? What new technologies are on the horizon that could change our lives even more than current ones have? From 5G mobile data service and cloud computing to artificial intelligence and virtual reality headsets, here’s a look at some of the biggest developments on the horizon and what they could mean for the future of online life.


The Physical Network

Cable, fiber, copper—there’s no shortage of physical network options. While there are some excellent ways to have blazing-fast Internet access, many consumers will opt for a plan with slower speeds at a lower price point. Because in most cases, all you need to stream movies and music is 4Mbps—8Mbps if you want to watch in HD—to feed one person a good Netflix experience. In other words, cable plans might soon be cheap enough to compete with DSL and satellite in rural areas. The big takeaway: Don’t rule out cable just yet. If high-speed Internet matters most to you—and it does for nearly everyone else too—you should probably look at broadband as an option instead of or as well as mobile data.



You can’t discuss what the future of the Internet means without first discussing why we need it in such a high volume. This week, Cisco announced that global data traffic is expected to hit 22.3 zettabytes per year by 2022, up from 15.4 zettabytes per year in 2017—that’s nearly two billion more devices generating data on a daily basis. What many companies are striving for, for now, is hyperconnectivity or a very large-scale version of what most people already experience on their cell phones and Wi-Fi-enabled laptops at home. After all, more access equals more content—and better connectivity makes it easier to access said content across a variety of platforms and services.


The Future of Wi-Fi

A couple months ago, a guy named Elon Musk built a high-speed tunnel from Washington DC to New York that only took 28 minutes. Today, he’s planning to disrupt city traffic once again with an idea that would be called personalized mass transit, or hyperloop. It would travel at up to 760 miles per hour and use solar panels to charge its batteries during off-peak hours. Meanwhile, Paris, France has plans for its own personal mass transit system: it will be powered by magnetic levitation and run on a track that’s elevated 50 feet in the air. You won’t need a train ticket - instead, you can just tap your smartphone.


Cloud Services

Cloud computing services such as Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to access your files from anywhere, but many still use desktop programs like Photoshop and Microsoft Office. Adobe's Creative Cloud service combines both worlds by allowing you to use their cloud-based app (such as Photoshop) or your desktop app, depending on your needs. If you're not a heavy computer user, web-based versions might be a good option; they're free and accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. Keep in mind that cloud storage also means sharing access to company data with everyone else who has access, which can be less secure than storing files locally on your hard drive or even in print form.


Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Right now, virtual reality and augmented reality are making inroads into a variety of industries, from entertainment to gaming to healthcare. Indeed, some people have gone so far as to predict that VR/AR will be bigger than mobile—and that’s saying something! As with all new technologies (i.e., anything since computers), it’s hard to say which ones will catch on and which ones won’t. But VR/AR is particularly well-suited for business because they enable users to interact with data in ways they never could before: by putting them directly inside it. That means these emerging tools can enable us not only to observe complex systems but also to understand and engage with them on a deeper level.


Data Storage

Current storage solutions are rapidly becoming obsolete, but one data storage solution that’s sure to stick around for a while is magnetic tape. This technology has been making business processes more efficient since its inception in 1951. Businesses frequently use magnetic tape to back up their most important information; it allows companies to recover quickly and easily when disaster strikes. A single piece of tape can store up to 2,300 gigabytes worth of data, which means that businesses do not have to worry about preserving their most important files digitally. The magnetic tape also supports quick recall – businesses simply don’t have to spend time waiting for digital files to load before they can view them. These characteristics make magnetic tape ideal for those who want fast access and reliable retrieval systems at low costs.


Artificial Intelligence

One of our biggest questions about AI in 2017 is if machines will be able to fake it. Will we ever be able to create an artificial brain that can pass a Turing test? As machine learning and deep learning take off, we may soon see progress on that front. We’ll also see more discussion around how much data computers need in order to learn; some companies are already pushing past commonly accepted notions on that front. And finally, expect a lot more conversation around how effective interfaces (like Alexa or Cortana) actually are at answering our questions and helping us with everyday tasks. In short: you'll start talking to your computers even more than you do now (and by now, I mean two years ago). The conversation won't always be pleasant.

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