If the name Elon Musk does not ring a bell already, it soon will. As the founder of many companies, including Tesla Motors, Solar City, SpaceX and even PayPal, Musk is constantly innovating. Now, Musk has positioned himself at the vanguard of a technological revolution that aims to fundamentally alter the way we connect; internet for everyone.
The goal is to provide inexpensive internet access for all people across the globe, especially those in poorer or more remote countries, creating an all-inclusive network that reaches every corner of every country. In order to reduce cost and avoid signal latency, the plan is to launch around 4,000 advanced micro-satellites into low earth orbit. Musk has stated that it, “would be like rebuilding the internet in space.” If the plan sounds ambitious, that should be no surprise, as Musk is known for his high reaching goals, like terraforming Mars. At the current time, the visionary inventor is seeking government permission to begin the testing phase of his technology.
Ultimately, the idea is aimed at helping less technologically advantaged nations gain web access at an affordable cost. For those living in already well-connected countries, the new access may not provide faster connection speeds or significantly greater coverage. However, the advantages of a more fully interconnected global population are great, and even Musk himself is just beginning to understand the impact the fully-functional project will have. Though many of the far reaching effects are still up to speculation, we can gauge the ultimate impact by looking at the benefits the past 20 years of internet technology have brought us.
As a resource, globally accessible internet access will mean the most to people living furthest from urban centers. Finding a reliable means to communicate, learn, trade, and share regardless of where they are will become a core priority. As humans continue to progress socially and technologically, we come closer to understanding the central importance of connectivity. Social media sites have evolved beyond entertaining distractions, and have become an effective tool to build communities.
The potential for education is perhaps the greatest resource that can be made available. Access to online databases, museums, news, and articles puts education in the hands of the people, democratizing it. As the more remote regions of our world tend to also be least resourced, this means that education will be made available to the people who need it most, going a long way toward leveling the playing field on a global scale.
During the Arab Spring in 2011, countries like Egypt and Libya found internet access to be a major political tool against oppressive regimes that seek to deny personal liberty. And conversely, internet censorship has been a major tactic of these regimes in order to quell revolt. During protests in Egypt, Twitter and other social media platforms were used to share up-to-the-minute updates on a global scale, shedding light on the events happening there at the time. This was a means for protesters to organize among themselves, but also to gain support from distant countries that may otherwise have remained deaf to their struggle.
Although Musk’s global internet coverage may not cross political boundaries, offering the option of full access to these nations puts pressure on dictators to provide access to their people. As information access becomes viewed increasingly as a human right, government censorship will be less tolerated. As people all over the world become more empowered to speak on their own behalf, and share in the ideas that are circulating internationally, it is possible that political barriers will begin to weaken.
From the point of view of an already established internet-user, the greater connectivity opens up boundless new possibilities to learn more about the lives, thoughts, and cultures of other people from around the world. In addition to serving as a life-enriching resource for people who currently lack consistent information access, it will also provide a means for an exchange of information to occur, between all nations on Earth.
In the past 20 years since the internet has become widely available in developed nations, the impact on commerce, education, entertainment, and just about every other aspect of human life has been dramatic. Buyers have more access to a wider variety of goods, and workers have greater flexibility with how they perform their jobs. Sharing this technology on a global scale will not only bring these innovations to other regions of the world, but increase the pool of users for everyone, allowing us all to share in the combined efforts of the human race. This fulfills Musk’s ultimate goal, which is to unite the human race as a superorganism capable of social, political, and technological feats that today still remain out of reach. Technology lovers the world over remain optimistic for the unveiling of this ambitious new project.