What if We Lose the Internet?

The biggest risk is often the things we don’t see coming, or the things we didn’t expect. A few days ago, I wrote a bit on The Risks You Can’t Foresee, and towards the end, I started drawing a parallel to our current pandemic and how lucky we were that the death rate isn’t much higher.

Here’s another thing we should be extremely grateful for, the internet. We were very lucky because in 2020, most of the world had high-speed internet and remote work made it possible for society to continue functioning when most people were trapped indoors. Imagine if Covid happened 20 years ago in the year 2000, do you think the world can survive a lockdown when not many people had an internet connection and Google was just 2 years old?

But the internet is not indestructible. What most people don’t realize is that the global internet is still mostly powered by vast undersea cables. We can escape the pandemic in the physical world by isolating ourselves and moving into the digital world, but what happens when our digital infrastructure collapses at the same time? We’re lucky it didn’t happen this time, but imagine a future when the next pandemic hits and everyone is forced to go into lockdown, only for the internet to suddenly fail. What do you think will happen?

HT Yuval Noah Harari

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