Miraculous, in that the world is as peaceful, prosperous, and populous as at any time in history.
Challenging, in that socially, politically, and economically, nations and multinational organizations are competing with each other and emergent groups for future primacy.
On the economic front, it’s a time when every leader of business – large and small – should be going to sleep and waking up thinking about what kind of transformation is on its way (or already underway!) impacting the viability of their company.
But, a thorough and dramatic conversion form one from to another. Like the mutation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
Pick up your phone and check your email or voice messages. What just happened?
They say miracles are the stuff of angels. But, we live in a time where the everyday task of communicating with one another is a miracle of human ingenuity. And it involves ingenuity on a scale simultaneously so small and so large, that it is nearly beyond imagination.
Take a strand of your hair.
Now, imagine a tiny strand of glass, less than a tenth as thick as your single strand of blond or brunette or black hair. And each strand of this tiny glass is carrying up to 10 million telephone calls.
Now imagine a fiber-optic cable, made up of 100 or more of these incredibly thin strands of glass or plastic, known as optical fibers. That’s a possible 1 billion telephone calls, traveling that one cable, or enough for 1 out of every nearly 7 people on Earth to be talking on the phone at the same time.
Now feel your pulse.
At rest, the average adult heart rate is one beat per second. One beat, one second. With every beat of your heart, AT&T Labs is performing hundreds of checks on every byte of data it handles on its global networks. These checks are to ensure the data is safe, secure, ‘unbroken,’ and conforming to many other standards and government regulations.
How much data does it handle, you might ask? AT&T Labs’ former CEO, Keith Cambron, estimates an amount of 80 petabytes (a billion megabytes).
That is a number so large that it represents all of the books, all of the audio recordings, all of the movies, and all of the photographs ever taken. Every day.
IT IS EARLY
As miraculous as these marvels of human ingenuity are, we are in the early innings of a massive phenomenon that is far greater.
Possibilities coming from an age of computing power and connectivity, available all of the time, everywhere.
In the palm of your hand… in your ear… in every pane of glass surrounding you… under your skin… woven into your clothing… How each of us responds to this miracle will be different. You may revel in it, you may accept it, or you may refuse to embrace it.
But, regardless of your response, as Sheriff Ed Tom’s father says in the great modern crime movie, No Country for Old Men, says “You can’t stop what’s coming.” (Timemark 01:50 in the clip, for the impatient.)