The same people who believe technology is the answer to all our problems, like robots replacing humans in the workplace, also think that hooking up everyone on the planet to the internet is a swell idea. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, is building a massive drone to fly over the third world and deliver internet access to millions, because he sees connectivity as an unquestioned good.Universal internet connectivity to the third world is a terrible idea. Rather than creating a kumbaya attitude of global sharing, modern communications project the image of first world affluence and act as advertising for illegal immigration. People who live in primitive situations can now see lifestyles far more comfortable than their own which can be achieved by unlawfully relocating to Europe or America. The young men don’t see the first world as an example of how their own societies can be improved: they just see wealth they want to reach and grab immediately.A June WSJ article persuasively made the case that the massive movement of Africans north to Europe is caused by the vision of wealth broadcast by media and the internet.
Allure of Wealth Drives Deadly Trek, Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2015Young Men in Senegal Join Migrant Wave Despite Growing Prosperity at Home[. . .] Mr. Ba represents a puzzling segment of the migrant population: Unlike those fleeing war, famine or economic desperation, this group is risking rising living standards to brave banditry, starvation and stormy seas to make a better life in Europe.Officials here say five men from this village of several thousand—which in recent years has welcomed smartphones, laptops and satellite television—are known to have perished this year. More are missing, their fate unknown. Another man leaves every week, officials say.Senegal is a stable West African democracy, and Kothiary has profited from the currents of globalization transforming rural Africa’s more prosperous areas. Flat screen TVs and, increasingly, cars—mostly purchased with money wired home by villagers working in Europe—have reshaped what was once a settlement of mud huts. The wealth has plugged this isolated landscape of peanut farms and baobab trees into the global economy and won respect for the men who sent it.But it has also put European living standards on real-time display, and handed young farm hands the cash to buy a ticket out.Leaving has become cheaper and easier thanks to turmoil in Libya, where revolution and civil war have created a power vacuum filled by militia gangs. Senegalese men, including the educated and ambitious among them, are betting their lives that they can cross that gantlet.They leave behind a proud democracy whose steady economic growth has brought American-style fast food chains, cineplexes and shopping malls to this nation of 15 million, but hasn’t kept pace with the skyrocketing aspirations of the youthful population. Dusty and remote villages like Kothiary have become an unlikely ground zero for this exodus.“Here, everybody is leaving,” said Mariama Ndiaye, a 25-year-old mother who held her infant daughter’s hand. “As soon as I raise the money, I’m going to France, to Italy, or to die.”
Facebook wants to offer Internet service to remote areas by drone, Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2015Social media giant Facebook seeks to bring the Internet to remote areas of the world with its latest project involving a huge drone it has built.The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm said Thursday that its Connectivity Lab has completed work on an unmanned aircraft it calls Aquila with the ability to send Internet signals from the sky to users below.The company hopes that someday the drone — the size of a Boeing 737 aircraft — will be able to fly above remote areas and serve millions of people worldwide that currently don’t have access to the Internet or Facebook.The Aquila places Facebook one step closer to achieving this goal by using new laser technology that can deliver Internet access 10 times faster than any previous device, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.Zuckerberg said these new technologies will continue to be tested during the next few months, and the objective is to eventually provide underserved areas with a network of drones, each one providing Internet access within a 31-mile radius.A Facebook spokeswoman said the company is discussing regulations with local governments where the drones would be flying, but she said she couldn’t comment on specifics yet.In order for this to work, the firm said, a ground station will transmit radio signals to the aircraft and then the signals will be relayed to users on the ground.The aircraft has a 140-foot wingspan, similar to the Boeing 737, but it’s constructed with lightweight carbon fiber and can stay airborne for months by using solar power, officials said.“Facebook has a very, very big and bold mission, which is to make the world more open and connected,” said Yael Maguire, Connectivity Lab director of engineering. Its goals are “primarily focused on regions where there just isn’t Internet connectivity, and that’s why we’re really invested in solar-powered aircraft and lasers as a mechanism to do that.”Facebook isn’t the only corporation that wants to expand Internet coverage to hard-to-reach areas all over the world.Google’s Project Loon has a similar ambition, but it instead uses balloons that float in the stratosphere to form a communication network. These balloons intend to connect people to the Internet through LTE-enable phones and other devices.Although Project Loon is still in the development phase, the Aquila has very realistic goals, said Drone Analyst CEO Colin Snow. He said that Facebook’s project is “technically feasible and highly probably,” but that there are always possibilities for problems.Potential issues for the Aquila could arise from unexpected maintenance requirements or disruption from solar flares, but there should be minimal concern regarding solar power or Internet connectivity, according to Snow.Facebook will clearly benefit from more Internet users in the long run, but Zuckerberg said that this initiative isn’t driven by profits and that the focus is providing economic and social benefits to developing nations.