What Will the Internet Look Like in 25 Years?

The accelerating pace of technological change seems certain, in another 25 years, to have brought us innovations we can't even imagine today. But some of the current trends seem likely to continue. 

The Internet is going to get much, much faster. An experimental network called Internet2 is already well on its way to building out an infrastructure that it realistically projects will reach speeds of a terabit per second. That's ten to the twelfth power. Bits per second.

More and more people will connect to the Internet with a tablet device in the near future, and even more of them will watch video content on their tablets than do today. Internet connectivity will become even more ubiquitous. People today exclaim over smart meters and connected home technology that will allow them to adjust their thermostats from their mobile phone or check on their pets while they are at work. Twenty-five years from now Google Glasses, which wowed Google I/O this year with a live-streamed sky dive onto the roof of San Francisco's Moscone Center, will be at least fifth generation and well on its way to becoming ancient technology.

Your Internet service provider is likely to also be your entertainment provider 25 years from now; with on-demand television and radio the norm. You will be able to adjust the volume of your streamed content from personal sensors that are feather-weight and barely perceptible. The wearable Internet will have come into its own, and the cascade of data from multitudes of small and inexpensive sensors will revolutionize both medicine and environmental science.

Imagine a sensor on the skin of a diabetic that would be able to detect low blood sugar and both alert a medical provider and send a robot in from the kitchen with a snack.

Likewise, readily available and affordable sensors, coupled with the bandwidth to process the data they produce, would be able to provide solid scientific data about the extent of water and air pollution and to map its location and even composition.

Available bandwidth on a scale we can barely imagine will be a driving factor in determining the architecture of the Internet 25 years from now. Life-size holographic avatars and multi-touch screens the size of billboards will both be in the cards if we want them to be, as well as some really impressive 3D gaming capabilities. Symphony orchestras will be able to play together from separate ends of a continent and training simulations could be nothing short of amazing.

But that's just it -- if anything is certain about these predictions, it is that 25 years from now they will seem quaint and old-fashioned, and that some completely amazing technology will be taking us where no man has gone before.


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