Monday, May 11, 2009

Speculation on the Power of the Web

It is still too early in the evolution of the Web to say with certainty where its ultimate power lies. At this moment, it is less than an infant, only a little more than a technological zygote. What it eventually becomes is open mainly to speculation, but there is one power it exhibits already in its nascent state. Like technology itself, the Web is overwhelming us with the intensity of its exponential growth and evolution. In barely a couple of decades, it has become an integral player in the shepherding of mankind, and yet in as little as another decade or two, its power may be such that it is no longer recognizable as the beginning entity it is today. The Web can well be considered as part of the “Future Shock” Alvin Toffler wrote about almost fifty years ago, but it is more of a shock than anyone could have imagined then.

The tendency of most people is to think linearly: It has taken mankind a few thousand years to reach our present state of technology, so in another few thousand years, we will be perhaps twice as far along as we are now. But technological (and Web) development and evolution are not linear activities. They are products of geometric progressions, and as Ray Kurzweil points out in his book, The Singularity is Near, by the time a geometric progression makes itself known, it has already become a raging torrent. Such is the ongoing state of the Web. It is at the beginning of a geometric torrent, doubling and doubling and doubling again. This doubling is of information, the very essence of everything in the Universe itself.

Power? In the immediate decades to come (not in thousands of years), man’s assimilation and technological use of information will be several thousand fold what it is now. Many people in generations alive today will experience what this means. The individual, in a newer, better, more durable form, need no longer die, and the Web may well become another world, literally, in which we live, without limitations, essentially forever. It will transcend the banality of religions, and many advanced thinkers believe it may evolve into its own eternal version of Heaven or possibly, though hopefully not, Hell. In any case, the Web’s power most certainly heralds the possibility, and even likelihood, of a wondrous future for the puny, insignificant and fragile little creatures that currently comprise mankind.


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