I was thinking that latency will keep centralization alive more than we might like. Centralization of course means info enclosure, sponsorship and resultant lack of transparency. In short it helps keep corruption and inequity alive through scarcity, bottlenecks and the corruption that rides the toll roads it engenders.
If we take a city the size of LA and suppose we can get the mesh hops down to .5ms additional latency per hope at .5 miles for an average hop its possibly about 30ms latency across its diameter or in the worst case. So that amount of latency seems plausible for things like gaming, but its not going to create the kind of distributed computer that can replace a data center for many tasks. You need compute nodes to be as close together as possible for that kind of thing and that implies centralization. It doesn’t mean we can’t provide a good quality distribution system political speech or most content forms save for possibly for more demanding gaming which under centralization may become quite popular with render farm games distributed through tech like PCell.
In the longer run out beyond classical and relativistic physics approaches there is the possibility of instantaneous communication which would break this centralization and compute bottleneck on distributed nodes. But it would also possibly bring us a world with such radical changes as to be quickly unrecognizable. In the interim, hypothetically a decade out there is the possibility of cellphones running open source software and hardware where the hardware may be 400x more powerful than we have today. Think of 2 tflops cpu 100 tflops gpu 1 tbyte ram 500 tbytes of SSD. If everyone has the equivalent of a big server in their pocket the evils a tiny bit of server activity in a distributed computing mesh across a city where everyone owns the software and hard that make it up are potentially reduced.
In the mean time, latency even within a data center and the need within big compute systems for a tight proximity fabric of components means that augmented reality, Google Glass and Street View and render farm games will run off more centralized stuff like PCell with its centralized toll road back channel and its asymmetric upload. That type of asymmetry in some ways is not all bad, even if it doesn’t work for mesh. We are used to it with our human sensory IO where we take in a lot more info through our senses than we are aware of putting out in our communications. And when we do need output we’ve already processed and compacted it a bit. Still if climbing the mountain of search implies stuff like Watson Debater it also means centralization. Although that phone 10 years from now looks like it could handle debater.