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Technology Changing at Unprecedented Rates.

If the recent past is any indication, future communication technology will change at unprecedented rates, predicts Jennings Bryant, director of the University of Alabama's Institute for Communication Research, Tuscaloosa. He says changes in personal communication technologies will force consumers to "grab on, or be left behind."

"Who would have thought a short decade ago that the Internet and World Wide Web would have revolutionized the personal and professional lives of hundreds of millions of global citizens? The breakthroughs of tomorrow will be even more dramatic, because the rate of change in those technologies is increasing daily," Bryant maintains.

"By 2020, the Internet as we know it today will be totally passe. It will have long since been replaced by a ubiquitous wideband communication system, the infrastructure of which will rest on an eclectic wired and wireless digital backbone that permits the use of a new generation of portable access devices. Via this new, intergalactic network, we will share multidimensional, multimedia messages in ways that make Dick Tracy's two-way video wristwatch and "Star Trek" 's holodeck appear as obsolete as a Flash Gordon retrospective," explains Bryant, alluding to science fiction television programs.

In the future, a myriad of communication options will astound society, he suggests. By using a portion of the communications spectrum now reserved for national security, sensory implants will process naturally occurring signals, enabling those with vision or hearing problems to experience "paravision" and "parahearing." Holographic images, with sound, would be seen by those equipped with implants.

Privacy issues will be hotly contested, as entrepreneurs attempt to sell personal information that previously was privileged to a new generation of virtual marketers. "Congress will further de-claw the Federal Communications Commission, creating a lawless frontier of communication chaos that will make today's selection of long distance providers seem like child's play. Consolidations and mergers in the communication industries will create a new group of communication Goliaths that will essentially reinvent Ma Bell. Consumer groups will band together to fight these new giants."

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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
Words:333
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