The global reach of the internet is grossly unrealized. Although it’s hard to find a reliable source of information for this, most reputable sources state that nearly 60% of the world still does not have access to the internet. There are a number of companies who are developing and creating technology that might cost effectively bring the internet to the most distant and remote regions of the world, but there still is no clear solution quite yet.
Google has been working for years to find a sustainable solution for bringing the internet to everyone in the world. Over the last 4 or 5 years, Google’s Project Loon has sent hundreds of balloons into the stratosphere outfitted with cell tower equipment that creates a network in the sky so that those on the ground can have access the internet. Facebook attempted to do the same thing as Google in India, but India rejected their proposal because Facebook wanted to limit the number of internet sites users could access. Regardless of these two companies, the bigger takeaway is that the full extent and capability of the internet has so much more potential, especially as it relates to opening up new markets for commerce, healthcare, and education for people in remote areas who have limited access to technology.
The internet has made it possible to track just about anything in real time and collect and store the data associated with that. The perpetuation of the internet of things (IoT) craze has crept its way into the consumer world with the advent of the Tile, TrackerR, FitBit, cell phones, etc. At some point in the future there will be technology that will allow you to track just about anything you want, anytime you want, and anywhere you want. All of this tracking data can be stored in machines that might one day know “enough” to seem nearly human. Human behavior is irrational, but as technology advances, the ability of machines to accurately decipher between the “rational” and “irrational,” will only improve. This machine learning is most commonly referred to as Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Broadly speaking, Artificial Intelligence is still in the early stages, but not for much longer. Entrepreneurs and engineers are already using A.I. to solve problems in healthcare and other industries. For example, Enlitic uses data collected from thousands of patients to monitor diseases, help patients develop treatment plans, and in some cases, detect possible health issues before they happen. This company is a great example of how machines can be used to help humans live healthier lives. In general, I think everybody wants that, right?
Whether you’re an investor or an entrepreneur (or neither), I think it makes a lot of sense to pay close attention to how the internet and artificial intelligence will affect our lives and the world around us. Just think, less than thirty years ago the public internet didn’t even exist. Now, it’s just about as necessary as having running water or electricity. There still remains tremendous opportunities for how the internet can be used, and I look forward to participating in that in one way or another. -KM