Also, an article on The Undersea Network, at Scientific American
This vision of autonomous networks is shaped more by Hollywood cinema than by actual cable operations. In reality, our global cable network is always in a sort of crisis and, at the same time, highly dependent on humans to power the steady flow of information transmissions.
It would perhaps be more precise to say that cables are always in a state of “alarm.” An “alarm,” in network-speak, is anything from an indication that the cable has been severed to a reminder about a needed computer update.
Even if our signals continue to pass through cable systems without delay, the undersea network never quite functions perfectly on its own, that is, without alarm and without human assistance.
When I ask operators about the vulnerabilities of today’s undersea network, many express concerns about downsizing and retirements. They fear that carefully sustained industry knowledge will be lost and that there will be nobody to take their place that will adhere to the same standards of reliability. Recruiting the next generation of workers is difficult. There is no direct path to the industry and it remains largely invisible to the public.