Trends help us to see where things are coming from and potentially where they are going.
There is a Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast for 2010-2015 that projects global IP traffic (voice, video, and data) and the numbers are ginormous!
Here are some highlights from their highlights for where we will be in only 3 years–by 2015:
– Annual global IP traffic will reach one zettabyte (which is about 100 million x all printed material in the U.S. Library of Congress (which is 10 terabytes)).
– Devices connected to the network will be 2 for 1 for every person on this planet (and many people who live in 3rd world conditions do not have any devices, so what does that say for how many devices the rest of us have?).
– Non-PC traffic (from TVs, tablets, smartphones, more) will reach 15% and is more than doubling every year (makes you think about when you fridge and toaster are going to be connected to the Internet).
– Mobile Data traffic is practically doubling (or 92%) annually meaning a growth of 2,600% over 5 years (and according to the New York Times (5 Jan 2012) “The Top 1% of Mobile Users Consume Half of The World’s Bandwidth” and the top 10% of users consume 90%!).
– Video traffic (TV, Video on Demand, Peer to Peer, etc.) will be almost 2/3 (or 62%) of all consumer internet traffic (and services like YouTube, Skype, FaceTime, Hulu are WebEx all play a role as we want to see as much or more than hear what is going on).
The takeaway for me from all this is that truly information transmission is exploding over the Internet, and we will continue to need more advanced technologies to “pipe” it all to where its going and do it faster than ever.
However to build on these forecasts, over the longer term (further out in time, so more risky, of course)–say 20 years or so–some of my colleagues and I studying at National Defense University project the following:
– Rather than transmitting voice, video, and data over the Internet, we will be focused on transmitting thoughts (mental activity rather than spoken) and transmitting matter (like the Transporter on Star Trek).
– Transmission of thoughts will occur in real-time, through persistent connections, probably implants in teeth, glasses, subcutaneous, etc.
– Safety and health will be monitored through these same “connections” and medicine or other physiological treatments for routine things will be administered remotely through the same.
– Education will be through instantaneous zaps of information to your brain (like in The Matrix) from a universal database, rather than through traditional in-class or online courses.
– Like now, the contextual policy and legal issues will be around privacy and security–and you will need to pay dutifully for each in a world where not only what you say and do, but rather what you think, can get you in lots of trouble.
Okay, for these things to happen by 2032 is probably a little aggressive, but don’t rule any of them out over time. 😉