Imagine if the internet went down. How would you communicate? How would you search for job vacancies? You’d probably have to start writing letters, making long-distance phone calls and reading adverts in the local newspaper. Nothing earth-shattering, especially for those old enough to remember the early 90s.
But one thing is for sure: we'd have to change a lot of our habits. Because, as this infographic from The Economist shows, we now rely on the internet for more and more things.
The numbers are enormous, and they keep growing, so much so that this infographic is already slightly out of date, despite being less than a year old. While the average number of tweets is still estimated to be around 500 million a day, Google now processes half a billion more searches a day, bringing the total to around 3.5 billion. Email is also growing. A study by the Radicati Group predicts that by 2018, there will be just under 228 billion emails sent each day.
Not being able to send emails or tweets would be only a minor headache compared with the economic fallout if the internet were to go down. In 2014, it was estimated that the world spent $1.2 million dollars online every 30 seconds.
But even this is just the tip of the iceberg. As we enter the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the lines between the physical, digital and biological are becoming blurred. As emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing begin to take their place in the global economy, it seems certain that even if the internet were inactive for just a day, it would affect almost every part of our lives.