What if the internet crumbles?

Wasim Raza

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Cr: Pixabay/ sumanley

The internet is a robust system. It doesn’t rely on a single machine or cable. There are several computer networks in this network. Globally, it is spread out. Global connections are established via satellites, under the ocean, and over continents. We have become increasingly dependent on the internet as it has grown.

Internet communication becomes more reliable because of this. Even if part of the internet were to go offline due to disaster or nuclear attack, other sections could continue to function. Even though any data on affected machines might be lost, the internet would remain.

There’s almost no way to imagine what could cause the internet to collapse. We would probably only be concerned if we lost the internet on such a vast scale that it was destroyed on a wide scale.

What if the internet collapsed?

What impact would that have on us?

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Life would be drastically different or could we adapt fast and continue to use older ways of communication?

An internet-less world would probably seem very strange to us now. Text messaging or cell phone service might become unreliable, depending on the extent of the disaster and how you define the internet. Those services are also available due to the internet infrastructure. The internet’s infrastructure encompasses even the phone lines, so if you take this thought experiment to an extreme, they might not work.

You may not be able to access some satellite and cable services. As long as you had an antenna, you could still gain access to television programming sent over the air. However, if there is a general collapse, most channels would be lost.

It would be difficult to transfer files between computers, too. Files would need to be either physically stored on a disk or physically connected via a cable. The grid computing method would also not work for projects that require complex calculations. You might also lose access to your cloud computing information if those services fail.

The Economic Impact of a Collapsed Internet:

It would be disastrous for the economy if the internet collapsed. In addition to the inconvenience of losing electronic banking and PayPal, the effects would extend far beyond.

Internet businesses are all over the place. There would be no Web sites online. It would be the end of Google and Amazon.
Microsoft, for example, would lose enormous sections of its operations. It would adversely affect even companies who only use the Web for advertising purposes.

Many companies would likely go out of business if the collapse is permanent or extended. There would be hundreds of thousands of jobless people. Approximately 135,301 people work for Google alone [source: Google].

A market filled with jobless people would result from hundreds of companies folding or cutting back.

The sting would be felt more by some countries than by others. There would be severe economic crises in developed countries as entire industries would disappear or struggle to survive in the wake of catastrophic losses. Those nations do not have much of a presence on the internet, so they would not be affected by the collapse as much. As a consequence, these countries would struggle also because it would be difficult to obtain the aid and trade they rely on from other countries.

Political Crises

Should the internet collapse, governments would face a primary economic crisis around the world. It would just be one issue world leaders would have to deal with.

In India, the government is constantly trying to make everything digital. They are encouraging citizens of the country to use digital currency to avoid fraud. During the pandemic, everything is done through online ways. Students taking online classes, offices working online, and even government meetings are being held through online modes.

Hospitals

The use of cutting-edge technology in hospitals requires the internet. In most cases, a daylong internet outage for day-to-day operations would be inconvenient, but shouldn’t be catastrophic. Medical centers may need rescheduled procedures and surgeries, but, as previously mentioned, hospitals prepare for such scenarios regularly. In today’s era, doctors guide other doctors to perform surgery through online mode.

Military

Some communication and data transmissions take place via the internet, but most military operations use their own independent networks. For even a day, military operations would be more than 30 years behind schedule and there would be a cost of millions of dollars.

Could the Internet collapse?

Internet isn’t a single centralized computer that someone can unplug at any time. In reality, it’s an incredibly large and decentralized system of computers and machines.

Here’s the good news – internet collapse is almost impossible. You can’t switch the internet on and off like a magic box. This isn’t even a physical object. It is a collection of physical objects that are constantly changing. Machines join and leave the internet all the time — it is never the same entity.

The short-term shutdown of the internet might even increase productivity in some cases. Another Borg study looked at the effects of company outages lasting over four hours. They took on tasks that they would normally put off, like dealing with paperwork, rather than twiddling their thumbs. This increased business. Borg joked that if every company turned off their computers for a few hours each month and made people do the tasks they had put off, productivity would increase. “In my view, the same holds for the whole economy as well.”

The psychological effects, such as isolation and anxiety, will affect everyone, though. According to Hancock, the primary purpose of the internet is to allow people to communicate with one another. The ability to connect to anyone, anywhere, and anytime has become second nature.

Borg recognizes the feeling of discomfort associated with being unable to do that. “I feel naked whenever I realize I forgot my phone behind,” he says. “Suddenly I have to ask myself, “Am I going in the right direction? Can I get someone to lend me their phone if my car breaks down?’”

If the internet were to see a global collapse, either the protocols through which machines communicate must cease to function, or the infrastructure itself must suffer massive damage.

The best way to view this is to realize that those who contributed to the creation of the internet created a remarkably stable tool. Despite technical difficulties, the internet continues to function as usual. Even though this would be a catastrophe, we don’t need to be concerned about it.

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