Five End Game Scenarios - How the INTERNET Will Die

Theories on how the Internet will end and one where it lives forever!

How could the Internet ever die, you ask? It is growing at a fantastical rate, becoming more and more important to our everyday lives, businesses, and evolution as a species. Well, everything has a finite lifespan, even our universe itself. (I say our universe on purpose; I'm a believer in the principals of quantum physics and the multiverse) Our universe might not die for billions or trillions of years but that is beside the point. Point is that it has a beginning and an end. So like all things, the Internet will also have a finite lifespan. How long that lifespan will be is for others to debate. Instead, I want to ponder the ways in which it could end.

Here are 5 of my Internet End Game Scenarios, in the order of their likelihood. Which ones do you think are most likely? **Not Useful anymore - This scenario is simple, the Internet no longer is useful or relevant to people. Therefore, it fades away like so many other technologies have in the past. I'm starting with this scenario because I believe it to be the most likely of them all. You scoff? Just think of all the inventions that have come along and completely replaced a previously popular approach. Throughout human history there has been one constant; change. Humans have adapted, invented and evolved in ways that have been completely unpredictable. It is inevitable that some new invention will come along that replaces the Internet, rendering it irrelevant and useless. Here are some examples of this happening in our past: -Scribes replaced by the printing press -Plow share by the tractor -Quill replaced by the ballpoint pen -wax candles replaced by the light bulb -carriages replaced by the car -swords replaced by the gun -telegraph replaced by the telephone -carrier pigeon replaced by email ;) -Internet replaced by ??? **Internet World War Meltdown - In this scenario a cyber world war destroys the Internet. We have already seen how quickly millions of Internet hosts can become infected with malware or huge website can be taken down with a Denial of Service attack. These attacks, and others like them, could proliferate to the point that it triggers a complete meltdown of the usability of the Internet. Once the Internet's usability is gone, the Internet itself will die. Image an Internet so diseased with malware that as soon as you connected you'd loose all of your data in milliseconds. Image an Internet so sluggish due to epidemic Denial of service attacks, that it brought us back to the 14.4bps performance days but with today's web 2.0 content. We see this happening right now on the Internet all the time. The difference is, that today we see it in pockets and even when widespread we are able to come up with patches/fixes to combat it. As technology gets faster, better, cheaper it could turn out that the bad guys start to command an advantage that is insurmountable. Most plausible to me would be a violent cyber war targeted at disrupting or eliminating Internet communications. A virtual World War (perhaps combined with a physical war) that could rage for years over the Internet. War, even cyber war, brings destruction and death to everything in its path. A full scale Internet cyber war would be no different. If there is one thing that humans are astoundingly good at, it's waging war. The Internet wouldn't stand a chance. **Internet Outlasts Humanity and Dies - In this scenario, the Internet outlives the human race. Due to famine, disease, war or an apocalyptic event, humans are wiped but the Internet still functions just fine. Over time, without proper maintenance, power, care and feeding the Internet would die a slow death. Blinking out of existence in pockets around the world. Those parts of the Internet powered by sustainable energy sources (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) could live on for hundreds, even thousands, of years following the passing of its human keepers before it suffered a catastrophic system failure. Given the extreme value of the Internet today and looking into the future I believe this end game scenario to be the third most realistic of my 5. Of course the Internet would adapt and morph over the millennia but would continue to exist in its most basic definition, as a worldwide, publicly accessible, series of interconnected computer networks. **Internet becomes dangerous to society/religion - In this scenario, the Internet becomes truly hazardous to human society to the point where we rebel against it and destroy it. In other words the risks of using/having the Internet become unacceptably high. This, of course, would lead to the Internets ultimate demise. Think of it in terms of a societal revolution, on par with the reasons behind the American Revolution, fall of communism, fall of Nazism, peasant revolutions, and others of the past. All of these revolutions had one thing in common; people were pushed past their breaking point and rebelled against the system. In this scenario the system being targeted is the Internet. Today we know the Internet revolution to be a good thing, in the future it might lead to its death. Like most revolutions, it will be impossible to know in advance exactly what will trigger the uprising. I suppose it will be a veritable soup of issues that all of a sudden reach the boiling point and start to spill over. What could cause such a rebellion against the Internet? Here are some ingredients that could make up a batch of Internet Rebellion Soup: -Complete loss of personal privacy due to the Internet -Knowledge contained on the Internet becomes completely untrustworthy to the point where it is knowingly being manipulated not in your favor. -The Internet results in the creation of business monopolies that dominate the world and suppress competition. Essentially, this would result in the downfall of freedom and capitalism. Not something many in the world would tolerate for long. -Cyber security completely compromised. See previous death scenario for details. -Communications and data flow become completely unreliable and easily untrustworthy. You can't be sure that the IM you received is really from a friend. And you can't be sure that the message you sent to your friend was not changed before it was received. You also can't depend on the Internet being available for use, connectivity is spotty at best. -And my number one probable cause for a rebellion against the Internet leading to its demise is Religion. Religion has probably started more wars than any other reason since the beginning of time. Why should the Internet not suffer the same fate? Given religion was able to suppress the rights of woman (a whole 50% of the population!) so effectively for so many 1000's of years, it would be silly to think it couldn't suppress the Internet. Don't misunderstand me, I am religious. This has everything to do with the abuses done under the guise of "religion" over the years. Religion, when not corrupted by people, is a beautiful thing indeed! **Lives on forever in the multiverse In this scenario, the Internet never dies completely. Instead it becomes self-aware, self-propogating and self-sustaining. As humans start to explore and populate the universe via space travel the Internet will follow us. The need for sharing data will force this. As we start to interact with Alien species we will form connected networks with them thus further expanding the Internet. As humans or others start to understand how to jump between universes in the multiverse the Internet would likely begin to due the same. Given the advance in technology required to get to this point it shouldn't be a stretch to also believe that the Internet would be completely self-sustaining, self-aware, and self-propagating. In a word, the Internet would be Living . It is at this point that the Internet would be able to live on forever. As universes come to an end, the Internet would continue to live on in other universes. As space continues to expand, so too will the Internet expand. As species come and go across the multiverse the Internet, being developed even further by them along the way, would live on. I believe this last scenario to be the most unlikely of the bunch. However it is also the most fantastical and frankly best outcome of the bunch. I would love to live long enough to see this one play out! I hope you had as much fun reading this as I've had thinking and writing it. Please do share any end game scenarios of your own?

The opinions and information presented here are my PERSONAL views and not those of my employer. I am in no way an official spokesperson for my employer.

More from Jamey Heary: Credit Card Skimming: How thieves can steal your card info without you knowing it Why you should always shred your boarding pass Video rental records are afforded more privacy protections than your online dataThe truth about new SSL attacks 2009 Top Urban Legends in IT Security/a>Go to Jamey’s Blog for more articles on security.

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