…surely make you lose your mind.

In this instance I use the term “fast lane” to refer to an advanced high speed internet connection – a connection fifty to one hundred times faster than today’s fastest connections.  We are told in this article at Yahoo! News that not only are ultra fast broadband connections looming on the horizon, but once they do arrive they will transform the way we live by making possible new kinds of communication like telepresence and virtual reality.  At least in the opinion of “experts” in the field who responded to a poll conducted by Pew Research and Elon University.

Apparently speeds in this range are possible and are already in limted use by tech companies, though here has been some questioning as to how useful these connections really are.  But that will change when the connections become more widespread and common, because a “killer app” will emerge to take advantage of the bandwidth.  To wit:

“As gigabit bandwidth becomes widespread later this decade, applications will emerge which exploit the combination of big data, GPS location, weather, personal-health monitoring devices, industrial production, and much more,” said William Schrader, co-founder of PSINet Inc.

“Gigabit bandwidth is one of the few real ‘build it and they will come’ moments for new killer apps. The fact that no one had imagined the other killer apps prior to seeing them grow rapidly implies that no one can imagine these new ones — including me.”

This makes some sense in light of how technology evolved that we take for granted today.  No one imagined smartphone apps before smartphones (really I-phones) were invented.  Furthermore:

David Weinberger, a researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said that with these connections, “There will be full, always-on, 360-degree environmental awareness, a semantic overlay on the real world, and full-presence massive open online courses. Plus Skype won’t break up nearly as much.”

Waitwaitwaitwait…did he say full, always-on 360 degree environmental awareness?  OK, now it’s getting scary.  Not to mention:

Marti Hearst, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the new connections means people will “play sports and music virtually, distributed, across the globe” and that some can have “virtual Thanksgiving dinner with the other side of the family.”

Well at least Skype won’t break up as much.  And virtual Thanksgiving dinners are way less likely to devolve into a foodfight/wrestling match in the front yard.  Unless teleportation is somehow involved…lemme scan this article again…no, they said “telepresence”.  No mention of teleportation.  Though the “always-on” part has me a little concerned.

When I hear experts talk about these things, I alway here them say how the technology will help bring people together.  I think it does just the opposite.  It enables people to avoid coming together and instead talk to a screen, or apparently in the future a hologram of some kind.  Certainly there would be some advantages to business, by eliminating the cost of people traveling for meetings.  I get that.  I also understand the benefit for families that can’t afford to travel being able to spend holidays together at least in some way.  But when we approach the always-on 360 degree virtual reality stage, I think we’re getting into “no need to get out of your chair for anything” territory.  Talk about your “killer app”.

Surely make me lose my mind.  What about you?  You with me so far?