Recently, Google announced its Stadia platform. It is a way for people to play games, with most of the processing happening off site on different hardware, and streaming the games to the end user. They tout this as the future, a way for people to have a gaming console without the purchase of expensive hardware. With a subscription service and Google doing most of the heavy lifting, the theory is that all you need is a good connection and games will come to you.
In the same week, family members had another chapter in their eternal frustration surrounding rural internet. It is assumed that they would not be customers for Google’s program, because they don’t have a connection stable enough to actually run it. Indeed, if there’s any service that would require a constant connection, they couldn’t use it.
This is something that is often not considered when it comes to rural customers. If you live near Google, and are a Google employee, you’ve got a lovely, constant, high speed connection that never goes out. These ideas, inevitably, work.
Why not offload most of the processing to a remote server? It makes sense, in that context.
There are cars that can use a phone to lock, unlock and start, which is great in areas with cell coverage. Not so great in areas where you lose it, and everyone in this province has driven through those areas. It’s a consequence of living in a relatively sparsely populated country, far away from where engineers might think this is a good idea.
Of course, we’re talking about video games here, which are a leisure activity and a bit of an indulgence, but on the other hand, it’s an idea that could spread to other parts of our life. There are online thermostats, online appliances, online vehicles. Already, plenty of business is done strictly online, and the loss of a connection is going to cause a massive roadblock for a business.
It’s a reminder that we need to stop sometimes and consider whether doing everything online is actually a good plan. It’s getting to the point where a connection is like electricity, necessary to do most things required for modern life.
The juxtaposition of these two events made me realize that if we’re going to integrate an online connection that fully into our life, where it’s necessary for something we purchased to function, we’re going to have to take a step back and consider just how advisable it is, and consider just how this is going to affect people who can’t reliably get a connection.
We start with a leisure activity, but when it gets more serious, we’re getting into dangerous ground, especially in rural areas.