For one obvious example, I’m typing this on a plane– Southwest has started doing wi-fi on some flights, and it is totally worth $5 to be able to web-surf in flight.It would be even better if the flight wren’t packed, so I could type more comfortably, but I’m ok with just reading (once I post this).
Another example is the way that net access enabled me to have a far better time in Miami last night than I ordinarily would have. Everybody from the meeting I went there for took off, so I was on my own for the evening, and South Beach isn’t my kind of scene, being neither rich nor famous nor fond of expensive mixed drinks. A little poking around online found me Zeke’s Roadhouse, though, which is exactly my kind of place: 200-plus different beers in bottles and draft, and all of them $4. I never would’ve noticed it wandering on my own, but once I knew it existed, I was all over that.
(Yelp also talked up a brewpub, but it was a much longer walk than I wanted to take. If I’m ever back in town…)
The Internet also provided tools to keep me calm during the ridiculous wait for security check-in at the Fort Lauderdale airport, which would’ve driven me nuts if I didn’t have Twitter on my new phone. And so on.
For all the talk about the Singularity coming through AI and that sort of thing, I think the biggest changes probably have less to do with local intelligence than these kinds of connectivity and recommendation functions. I don’t need to be that much smarter as often as I need to find a good place to grab a beer, or a way to kill some time in a quasi-productive manner.