Trends for the Future: Telepower
Opportunities and Teleshock Concerns
Joseph N. Pelton
Robert J. Oslund
The George Washington University
If the human species is to achieve success as a species, i.e. continuous development for an eon, that is to say a billion years, the most severe test will come in the 21st century.
—Joseph N. Pelton (2001)
Modern technological progress has often been described as a “one-way gate. ” Once major innovations occur—regardless of whether they are helpful, harmful, or even both—they cannot simply be undone. They are almost always here to stay. Unlike the plot in “Terminator 2, ” we cannot send people or machines from the future back into the past to wipe out technological errors. Spandex, nuclear weapons, birth control pills, Viagra, broccoli, indoor plumbing, musical videos, and chemical and biological weapons, in one form or another, are probably all here to stay.
It is easy to identify the many ways that satellites have improved global society, human life, and commerce. We can also glibly project many ways in which satellites will continue to aid humanity in the decades ahead. Yet like virtually all technologies and industries, satellites represent a double-edged sword. In the years ahead, satellites will not only bring us new telepower, but also teleshock or negative impact on our global society.
Satellites continue to transform our world in new and powerful ways, from peacekeeping to missile targeting, from global news to porn. Satellites represent what might be called an artifact of an ultra-information society, where services dominate economic growth, and knowledge and information represent ultimate