I know, you think I’ve gone bonkers. “When the internet ends?” What is he talking about, you are asking yourself. It’s a question I posed to students who have only ever known the Internet. I explained that if the Internet ended, I still have a typewriter in the loft, so I can carry on writing. I’d need that because my cloud-based word processing would disappear. But my university students have never used a typewriter. So they would not know they needed to hit the return key at the end of each line. They may even not realise you need an ink ribbon for the characters to appear on paper. Us oldies who grew up in the pre-Internet era could more easily carry on.
Even so, you still think that the Internet will not end. It’s here to stay, isn’t it? Well, no. Sorry to shock you, but nothing is “forever”. I know, though, you are still thinking that the end of the Internet is so far off into the future that it’s not worth worrying about. You’re probably thinking you’ll be long gone, pushing up the daisies before the world needs to plan for a non-Internet era.
Except this is ignoring some significant events that are worrying very sensible and respected experts. Indeed, one worry is so concerning that the Financial Times has written about it in an article titled, “Quantum computing could break the internet”. Quantum computing is a significant advance in how technology works. It means that things like encrypted data could be opened within seconds, instead of the current 7.5m years for the best encryption systems now available. When that happens, you can say goodbye to online Government services, internet banking, and digital medical records in hospitals. There would be too much fear about data leakage.
Of course, you might think that quantum computing is still experimental and not ready for consumer use. Apart, that is, from one thing. A significant leap forward in quantum technology was announced this week, making quantum computing a much more immediate reality. That’s enough to worry the US Federal Reserve in the USA about the world’s financial systems.
But you are still sitting there, sipping your coffee, asking whether you really need to worry about this. “OK, Graham,” you are thinking, “but engineers will come up with ways of protecting us against the dangers of quantum technology.”…