Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Instead Of More Highways and High Speed Rail, The US Needs High Speed Information Highways

From The Wall Street Journal, "Infostructure Is the New Infrastructure: We aren't going to need 20 lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike, or $100 billion high-speed rail lines, to save us from national gridlock." by Walter Russell Mead:
Two things seem clear about the 21st century: Internet connectivity and bandwidth are going to improve so that today's technologies behind services like Skype are going to change beyond recognition. Each generation of young people will be more accustomed to socializing and interacting online. We are going to have more, better and cheaper alternatives to traditional business and commuting travel patterns, and our society will find it more and more natural and desirable to shift from expensive, time-consuming travel in "meat space" to doing business online.

More sophisticated computer technology will also allow us to use existing infrastructure more intensively and efficiently. This means better air-traffic control allowing more efficient use of runways, and self-driving "Google cars" (already in trial) allowing faster movement on existing road networks. We aren't going to need 20 lanes in either direction on the New Jersey Turnpike by 2050, or $100 billion high-speed rail projects, to save us from national gridlock.

The challenge isn't to move more meat; it is to move more information more effectively, and to re-engineer business practices and social organization to take full advantage of the extraordinary efficiencies that the Internet affords. The rush-hour rituals of the 20th century aren't destined to continue to the end of time. Telecommuting, flextime and mini-commutes to satellite offices will change the way we work.

Lobbying for more highways and high-speed rail misses the point. What's needed instead is support for advancing the Information Age economy. Government policy could reward companies that promote telecommuting and teleconferencing, for example, or otherwise facilitate the transition. (Greens take note: These and other business-friendly policies would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.)

1 comment :

  1. Thanks for sharing this great content, I really enjoyed the insign you bring to the topic, awesome stuff!

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