The Internet: Just Not Worth It
Robert Samuelson: Cyberwar risk outweighs Internet's benefits
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jul 1, 2013 8:42 AM CDT
The Internet may cause more trouble than it's worth.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – As more and more of our infrastructure, from power to hospitals to airlines, becomes dependent on the Internet, the dangers of cyberwar increase. And though Robert Samuelson admits that the Internet is "the technological marvel of the age," at this point, its risks outweigh its benefits, he writes in the Washington Post. "It is not—as most people imagine—a symbol of progress. Just the opposite. We would be better off without it," he notes.

Samuelson refers to a report by the Defense Science Board, which advises the Pentagon. A major cyberwar could mean "no electricity, money, communications, TV, radio, or fuel ... In a short time, food and medicine distribution systems would be ineffective." Sure, such fears might be exaggerated; we don't know how likely a "technological Armageddon" is. But the improvements brought by the Internet pale in comparison to those of previous advancements like electricity and antibiotics. After all, "would the loss of e-mail, Facebook, or Wikipedia inflict fundamental change?" In short, the Internet is "a mixed blessing—and the mix may be moving against us." Click for Samuelson's full column.

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Jul 24, 2013 10:34 AM CDT
Being a lifelong camper I can do quite well without electricity, though as I age air conditioning is becoming more of an essential! What's more germane is that I am also a volunteer disaster responder as an amateur radio operator. Starting with 42 days in a tent in a damaged football field in Biloxi MS after Hurricane Katrina where there was no power or communications for many miles and days I have since been deployed nationwide to disasters including hurricanes, large fires and floods which disrupted power and communications. We can function without the internet. Obviously my experience has been community and regional events where we had outside support by people who did have normal communications, but inside the disaster zone we can function without it. On a national scale where the entire nation is without communications such as the oft-mentioned EMP bomb attack that might be a different story. Even in my wildest be-ready-for-anything training and planning however I cannot see that as being a likely scenario. Someone taking down a large section of our power grid would certainly be a disaster, but not one that we could not pretty quickly overcome.
Jul 16, 2013 11:03 AM CDT
If it were not for the Internet, where would one score top-notch porn so easily & at minimal cost?
Jul 4, 2013 12:08 PM CDT
Ah yes, but the genie is out of the bottle now, isn't it ?