The Invisible Internet: Caulfield Lecture 2015 by Brian Franceschelli

I thought it was interesting how Ms. Swisher spoke about the way that many of us view the internet today. She mentioned that we talk a lot, too much in her opinion, about the internet as a technology. She gave the example of the power grid, and how when she used her hair dryer, she didn’t think of the power grid, rather, she understood what it did for her. Following this example, it is a rare viewpoint these days to view the internet as something that does something for us. Until that happens, where we view the internet as doing something for us, where we see it in the background, like the power grid, the internet is not invisible.

Her talk following this introduction heavily referenced the new and upcoming technology market of “wearables,” technology that we will, in the near future, integrate into our clothing, our bodies, and most importantly, our lives. The most well-known example of this young era of technology are smart watches. These fascinating pieces of technology, currently produced by corporations like Samsung, Apple, Motorola, and a litany of smaller companies, are the first highly successful wearables to hit the market. They are also the first step towards a more invisible internet. Not to sound like someone who has been caught up in some romanticized conspiracy theory, but as we integrate new and future wearables into our lives, our technology will become more interconnected. It will know more about our lives than many people realize, and consequently, they will become much, much harder to turn off, to “un-plug” from, to really truly go “technology free”. In the near future, it will become very hard to be a Luddite in society. Eventually, over the course of a few decades, the internet will fade into the background, like the technological achievements of the power grid before it. After the internet has become invisible, I believe that we will find ourselves in a world more interconnected, more technologically “jacked-in” than ever before.

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