Do you remember where you were when you first heard of this thing called the Internet? Do you remember how this technology—email, search engines—gradually took over your life, or perhaps you were born into a time when everyone was already dependent on the worldwide web? Now we have a new light-bulb moment—the introduction of the energy internet, and we will all soon come to depend on it.
What is the energy internet? It sounds like it could be a virtual world where we communicate telepathically and enjoy teleportation, finally. We’re not there, yet. But it’s just as exciting and revolutionary. The energy internet is a vast network that efficiently supplies electricity to anyone anywhere. The digital age will allow such a system to be decentralized, efficient, and reliable. That’s the theory, anyway.
Jeremy Rifkin is an economic and social theorist, as well as the best-selling author of The Empathic Civilization. Rifkin is an internationally renowned expert on understanding the latest innovations shaping our lives as well as those required to solve our greatest challenges. In his latest book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Rifkin provides compelling evidence of our nascent Internet era developing an alternative to capitalism. The laws of the jungle, as Rifkin explains, may soon be replaced by the laws of collaboration.
As an example of this growing movement, governments and private companies around the world are currently, cautiously climbing onto the bandwagon of the next Promethean innovation.
“The energy Internet is really the Internet brought to energy and it's a perfect fit,” says Rifkin. “The great economic revolutions in history occur when new energy regimes emerge and new communication revolutions emerge to organize them.”
Steam power transformed industries, and the world, in the 19th century; electricity and the telephone sped up this trend in the 20th. The information super highway was just getting its legs as we entered the 21st century. The peer-to-peer communication and collaborative distribution of the web make it an ideal model for a new kind of energy system, says Rifkin. At the core of this new system will be renewable energies, which are already being increasingly used in Europe—the leader of the energy internet movement.
“We’re taking the electricity grid of Europe—the whole transmission grid—and we're transforming it to an energy Internet using the same technology we used with the communication Internet,” says Rifkin.
For more on the challenges and potential of the energy internet, watch this clip from Rifkin’s interview with Big Think:
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.