Google’s Eric Schmidt Says The Internet Will Eventually Disappear
One of Google’s top software engineers, Eric Schmidt, made an intriguing pronouncement recently. According to him, the Internet will eventually disappear. In an appearance at the World Economic Forum, Schmidt’s said: “I will answer very simply that the Internet will disappear.” He said this in response to a question about his prediction on the future of the web.
Before you panic or think of foreboding thoughts, realize that Schmidt’s comment is not what its face value states. The Google exec meant to say something deeper and more flattering for the Internet.
Disappearance due to Ubiquity
What Schmidt actually wanted to say with his comment was that because Internet will become bigger and more omnipresent than it already is, it will disappear into inconspicuousness. “There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it.” Schmidt added that the Internet will become part of everyone’s present all the time through a wide variety of things that are already connected to the Internet. It will exist with the likeness of air, something you continuously use but you don’t really pay so much attention to.
Schmidt’s oxymoron comment (the Internet disappearing because of its extreme ubiquity) works although it certainly sounds like a clear attempt to create some buzz (that many media outfits readily picked up anyway). To emphasize, the Internet is bound to stay prominently existent at least in the foreseeable future. Internet technology is likely going to advance further and become a standard upon which modern life will be anchored. It’s almost impossible to imagine how the Internet will disappear. If some other technology supplants Internet, such a technology will likely be still based on the idea of how the Internet works. There could be some changes in standards but the basic structure or concept of how the Internet has been operating will most likely be impossible to eliminate or replace.
The Future of the Digital Economy
Schmidt was one of the speakers during a panel at the World Economic Forum called “The Future of the Digital Economy.” He was with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (panel lead), Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Salesforce.com head Marc Benioff, and a number of other prominent personalities in the Internet industry.
During the panel, Schmidt was asked for his comment on the issue of market dominance (online). Obviously, with Google as the Internet’s undisputed market leader, opinions coming from the company’s executives are bound to a carry a lot of weight. For Schmidt, the Internet is still an open market. He pointed out how so many strong tech platforms are emerging and how there appears to be (an ongoing or prospective) reordering of dominance or leaders in the industry. “All bets are off at this point as to what the smartphone app infrastructure is going to look like as a whole new set of players emerges to power smartphones, which are nothing but supercomputers,” Schmidt opined.
Overall, the message being conveyed at the panel was that the Internet is an essential component in the future of the digital economy. It will play a fundamental role in enabling communication, technological developments, and commercial activities. It was discussed on the panel how only 40% of the world enjoys the benefits of the Internet, and that growth will certainly be advantageous. Schmidt mentioned North Korea’s Internet situation and commented how it is “not good for the country and others.”
Internet for Empowerment
Schmidt highlighted the Internet’s importance in giving more people a chance to be heard. For Schmidt, the Internet empowers. Well, this couldn’t be more obvious and nobody will probably disagree to that. The Internet has made it possible for everyone to be a publisher and to be able to publish their thoughts for free. The way the Internet facilitates faster information sharing and communication creates an immense level of empowerment that has not existed in the pre-Internet era.
Google, along with Facebook and many other online companies or organizations, are taking steps to bring more people online. Google, for instance, has Project Loon to provide Internet connectivity in remote areas that are not reached by Internet service providers. Facebook, on the other hand, is continuously working to expand its Internet.org service. It’s not certain how exactly and how quickly (or long) the Internet will become too omnipresent to “disappear” but it can be reasonably argued that the Internet should continue to exist, advance, and be available to more users.