Now that more and more shopping, education, and working occur on the web, what is the future of theft, robbery, and burglary? If shoppers, students, teachers, professors, mothers, fathers, and employees never have to leave the security of their homes, will pickpockets, muggers, and bank robbers starve? Will police officers stop patrolling the streets and spend all of their time on desk duty? Some criminals have risen to the challenge by developing innovative methods to exploit information technology. Probably, most of us are aware of phishing and identity theft. Still, firewalls and passwords to protect the virtual shopping mall, grocery store, high school, university campus, and corporate office are becoming more sophisticated. Will thieves find it more profitable to become soldiers of fortune, professional athletes, stock brokers, or real estate developers?
Perhaps, they will develop the security technologies of the future. Fingerprint readers in lieu of computer passwords are already economically available to home computer users. Audible and visual alarms embedded in virus protection software may increase the attentiveness of users to warnings about potentially harmful web sites. The use of encrypted email and video conferencing may become routine. To prevent burglary, wireless alarm systems are already easily and inexpensively installed in residences. Dogs may become even more popular as living, breathing, loyal, and unpaid body guards.
Their company as well as the absence of traffic may prompt long walks. Even in cities, walkers might enjoy views of the stars as telecommuters, home schoolers, and home shoppers won’t need street lights. Even skyscrapers might rise from lush gardens and orchards; parks would then become obsolete. For children, their entire community would constitute their backyard. For those missing their long daily commutes, Google Earth or video game companies would offer virtual highway travel with traffic congestion and speed traps. Most of us, though, would probably be glad to have an extra hour to sleep every morning.