From banks to hospitals to the systems that keep the juice flowing to our homes, we are almost entirely dependent on tech. We look at the effect of the five worst 'tech doomsday' scenarios, such as the entire net collapsing, would have on our lives.
Tech doomsday scenario 5: God strikes back
News flash: This report is being brought to you via word of mouth, because nothing else is working.
Scientists believe an enormous solar flare has struck the earth's atmosphere, causing a worldwide failure of the electrical power grid and communications systems.
We are also receiving scattered reports of earthquakes, typhoons, and swarms of locusts, though they cannot be verified at this time.
Think of it as the mother of all power surges. The sun spits out an enormous cloud of superheated plasma several times larger than the earth, which slams into our atmosphere.
Supercharged particles travel through the earth's crust, frying all the power transformers it touches - instant worldwide blackout.
Sound like a cheesy Hollywood plot? This precise thing happened on a smaller scale in Quebec in 1989, when a solar storm caused six million people to lose power.
"The chances of the internet totally crashing are slim to none, but if anything could cause the net to go down it would be a solar flare," says security consultant Robert Siciliano.
"A plasma ball hitting the earth's magnetic fields that it can't deal with. The step-up and step-down transformers that manage our power grid would fry. It would literally be the perfect storm of cataclysmic power surges that knock out the power grid and the internet at the same time."
What could happen: Everything that would happen in the previous four scenarios, and then some. Forget clean water. Forget health care.
Wipe out the last 20 years of recorded history, because most of it was stored digitally.
"We'd feel it first in the economy and our financial institutions, where everything is digital. Markets will collapse," says Siciliano.
"Where's everything backed up - in a filing cabinet? The economy would collapse, the banks would lock their doors and keep whatever money they had in the vault, because the rest has evaporated into thin air. Once the money's gone, we're resetting the clock."
NEXT PAGE: Could we recover from an act of God?
- We look at the likelihood of these doomsday scenarios
- Britain goes dark
- What could happen
- Wall Street gets e-bombed
- How long would it take Wall Street to recover?
- Google is gone
- What could happen if Google goes down
- The net goes down
- What effect would the net going down have on us?
- God strikes back
- Could we recover from an act of God?