The planet’s largest companies today are the technology companies. Everything is based on technology and networks. From your banks to education to jobs to even basic food being delivered now. In fact, the Internet of Things is making everything web-based and driven via internet actions. Everything – and everyone (at least in identity and possessions) is on the cloud.
I sometimes imagine a day when the global networks and electricity suddenly shuts down. And, its not such an impossibility either. A strong solar flare that reaches the Earth can basically ground all networks. Or some smart kid sitting in Djibouti could create a virus that could start a chain reaction and bring the entire internet to its knees. Apparently, the entire Chinese internet broke down due to a DNS Hijacking system. This could happen on a large scale and impact the whole world someday.
If that happens and stays so for say, a couple of months because the whole system in left irreparable – what happens to Google? Networth = 0? If there are no net searches, then there is almost no Google revenue.
Suddenly smart phones become just plain-old dumb phones. Just much bigger now!
If network and electricity was to shut off, the world would be left in a very miserable shape. Most of the life as we know it would be stopped and completely disrupted. In one movie with such a story line, riots broke out in the US with people killing each other and looting / plundering everything from everyone.
When you think of such a scenario – you realize how far man-kind has come into the Domain of Weak Balance. One wrong mind/stroke/flare and most of the world can be brought down to its knees and normal human beings can turn into savages.
Some folks – preparing for such an eventuality – live in self supported farms / forest lands. But, given the large scale impact and the feared riots in the West specially the US, such an option may not save one. So then what?
Btw, several movies I have seen over the last few years which deal with some kind of apocalyptic scenario has two constants. One, riots and plunder along with killings when the break down of the system and networks happens. Apparently the Katrina experience confirmed such a scenario as the “most likely” situation. Two, US always prevails while other countries are idiotic or backward to find a solution. American jingoism notwithstanding, it is the first thing that intrigues me.
India has depressing poverty, almost no real law enforcement and little resources. Ditto for places like Africa, although that scenario is now impacting the lives of the Africans in really terrible ways. But lets confine ourselves to India. Given the normal living conditions almost mimic the situation that would be post-apocalyptic occurrence in the US, what are the lessons learned?
Many. First and foremost, just because you are deprived off of your luxuries and food (temporarily at least), you don’t start rioting. Second (and more importantly), fear of the unknown is higher amongst those with more possessions and wealth. Those who have little, fear less and don’t go ballistic just because the network or lights go down.
The movies (and Katrina’s experience in New Orleans) paint a rather bleak picture of humanity existing in the privileged. That they behave “civilized” is not because they are inherently that way. But because they are forced to be so. Any aberration would land them in trouble. Humanity of the privileged may therefore be a favor that is done by them under the coercion of social and law enforcement’s pressure. It is brittle and weak.
The humanity of the under-privileged, on the other hand, is more enduring and real. They live in conditions worse than the worst nightmare of the privileged. Yet, no riots or plunder! Katrina’s worst is still a step up for these under-privileged.
Now, lets go back to scenario I introduced in the beginning. Is the insurance from global widespread technological breakdown going to be better technology? Or is it going to be more stable humanity? Are we investing in our humanity at all, while we create means to unleash the most devastating scenarios for world’s prosperity?
In answering this question may lie the very existence of human-kind on this planet one day.
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