As Damien Walter noted recently on twitter, some time between 1995 and 2010, the human species began to develop functional telepathy. (Actually, the first sign of this became real on October 29th, 1969, but exponential growth from a small base takes a long time to become noticeable.) We now have over a billion human beings on the internet, and so many devices that the IPv4 address space is saturated: within the next decade we can expect multiple new satellite internet constellations (such as OneWeb and rivals) to bring pervasive internet access to the globe. Smartphones are pushing down into the sub-$50 space where they're affordable even by those living just at the global poverty threshold (and the decline in global poverty over the past decade is working away at the other end). It no longer looks implausible to suggest that almost everybody will be online by 2025.
A side-effect of this process is that we're becoming used to a constant background roar—the global id in full throat, blasting us with the prejudices, rumors, superstitions, bigotry, and (less obviously) love and passion of the entire human species. Everyone being online means that anyone can in principle yell in your ear at any time, be it encouragement or rape and death threats.
So far we seem to have handled the telepathy thing relatively well. It hasn't provoked a nuclear war, or even very many social media targeting drone strikes. It has provoked total panic among authoritarian political leaders, with its concomitant ability to facilitate flash mobs, and a much quieter level of paranoia and near-panic among national security organizations, but compared with the consequences of the development of the printing press it's pretty benign. However, we're still in the early days.
More significantly: Markets. Some would say we're entering the post-capitalist era; certainly it's interesting to speculate on the effects universal functional telepathy (lies and all) are going to have on how we handle business. The internet disintermediates supply chains, but there's a catch: you have to be able to find your customers, or your root supplier, before you can cut out the middle-men. Currently we're seeing a land-rush by new middle-men trying to stake out their position as the Sultans of Search: Amazon and eBay were first wave, but the likes of Uber or AirBNB are now trying to occupy the equivalent space in vertically segmented business niches (personal transport and rented short-let accommodation respectively). The current 2015 cruel joke is that to identify a new Silicon Valley start-up opportunity you just have to figure out what your mom no longer does for you now you've moved out of her basement and productize it. But that's not going to last forever.
One of the performance drivers of an internet startup is the ability to automate and replicate a service that formerly scaled up by adding human bodies—travel agents are replaced by Hipmunk or Kayak, for example. But a side-effect of this is that there's a constant pressure to deliver the same automated search results for less money, on fewer processor cores. It's a race to the bottom and it ends when search becomes free at the point of delivery. Which might, to a first order, sound like a recipe for "sponsored search results" and biased results, but when you can open multiple browser tabs and do meta-comparison across product comparison websites for virtually zero cost, such lying informational lacunae will be found out fast.
Ultimately most of those middle-men are doomed: they simply can't add enough value to stay viable as information arbitrage brokers in a telepathic world.
So where do we go from there? (Is telepathy compatible with the continued existence of capitalism?)