In Asimov’s story The Last Question, the computer has evolved into a technological wonder that promised to answer any and all of man’s questions. It actually did its job, until it was asked the ultimate question, can entropy be reversed? It took time for it to answer this, but it eventually did. After it saw the end of human existence through the course of evolution (and space travel), it finally had all the information it needed to answer the question. And then there was light…
Recently, tech web sites reported that the majority of social networking denizens have become mere spectators, content with simply checking out what’s happening and then logging out. Also, content creators—such as bloggers like us—have decreased in number. I myself have grown tired of Facebook; it just doesn’t excite me anymore. And prior to this class, I barely maintained my blogs.
The internet was supposed to revolutionize the way we share data, the way we communicate to virtually anyone. But are the growth of mere net observers and the decline of net content creators signs that the internet’s potential has begun to wane? Has the end of the internet started? Are its promises about to be fulfilled? Its purpose soon to be satisfied? And since law has been trying to catch up with the internet (and the rest of technology), will all this chasing actually and eventually be for naught?
That sounds alarmist, I know, but just as Asimov has shown, this seemingly trivial development may snowball into an incomprehensible unheaval that by the time we do understand it, there may be nothing left to apply the knowledge to. As they say, the day we were born is the day we start to die; the day the internet became relevant is also the day it began to march towards irrelevance.
So I suppose there is some sense in what that other school of thought says: that the laws of today, though crafted without knowledge of what the future holds, are capable of addressing the issues that the internet (and technology) creates. Maybe we don’t need to make new rules, but just make the existing rules adapt. Technology eventually becomes obsolete anyway.
Much as I want to disagree, the argument does seem (cue Spock’s voice) logical.
I can’t help but hear Jim Morrison singing (about ending a life, oddly enough) as I log in this last entry…
This is the end / My beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end…
-- William G. Ragamat