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Richard Lee Hearn
Computer professional since 1963.
Area of Expertise:
General, Overarching Remarks
Independence, Interaction, or Isolation
Will the Internet of the future free mankind from constraints imposed by our heredity and culture, increase human interaction exponentially, or foster an era of electronic isolation from physical contact with a crowded, hostile world?
Will the vast bandwidth of the future allow visual representations of ourselves to interact with people and places anywhere in the world or, indeed, in the universe and free us from the limitations imposed by our physical being, our cultural restrictions and prejudices, and the barriers of time and distance?
Will the exploits of these wraiths excite our imaginations and compel us to travel and experience wonders in person, to meet the fascinating individuals we have met in our cyber world, to experience first-hand the thrills our electronic avatars pioneer for us?
Or will we find ourselves retreating to a safe and comfortable environment of our own making and avoiding painful interaction with an increasingly crowded, noisy, polluted world? Will electronic isolation reduce us to recluses who fear physical contact and attempt to minimize confrontation with anything outside of our self-induced exile? Will the current atmosphere of fear, distrust, and disillusionment coupled with the expense and inconvenience of travel result in cyber caves of comfort and safety?
Will the competition of ideas, ideals, and ideologies now abundant on the Internet and destined only to increase, give birth to an era of democratic institutions or will radical dogmas flourish? Will intelligent analysis become the norm or will blind adherence to the preaching of charismatic individuals become even easier?
I suspect a little of each will be true; that individuals will be found who typify the extremes of each position. But what path will the majority follow? The answer to that question may see a dark future or a bright world of free and independent people.