Virtual Omnipresence

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How fast can you change your life?

Pretty soon, computation will stream like electric power: you’ll still use hardware, but your information will be ubiquitous. The applications that we have gotten used to on our desktops, laptops and mobile devices will increasingly move into a Cloud.

Enterprises won’t need to invest in as much capital equipment for their computational needs. They’ll be able to pull computation down from the Cloud. Individuals will be able to access information from virtually anywhere.

We are swiftly moving into a world where data will be streaming all around us. Our lives will become increasingly dependent on a gigantic but seamless flow of data. For all practical purposes, your virtual presence will be everywhere: it will become virtually omnipresent.

There are two problems with virtual omnipresence:

  1. When you’re everywere, you’re nowhere
  2. You cannot hide

These two problems, which seem to form a paradox, have important implications for privacy. Some say privacy is dead. Perhaps it is or soon will be. Whatever its specific fate, our conception of it will undergo radical changes. As Rainer Rilke points out:

…for here there is no place that does not see you.

One of the toughest challenges we have as we enter virtual omnipresence is our search for meaning. As abundance of data swells so does the scarcity of meaning. Finding meaning has been, and always will be, a central quest of being human. You might be able to search for a needle in a haystack, but will the needle have any meaning for you? Ah, there’s a question.

I have no doubt that our brains will plumb meaning out of the world. Still: how will we find meaning in a world inundated with downpours of data? What changes will you need to make? How fast can you change your life?

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