Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A "Do-Over" for the Internet

Consider the assumptions made by the researchers who laid the foundation for the Internet. They were a small group of scientists who trusted one another, so they weren't concerned about security. They all had computers that stayed put, so they weren't concerned about mobile connections.

They wanted to use it to send each other information that no one's life depended on, and if it didn't get to its destination immediately, no one would die, so the concept of mission critical functionality didn't enter their minds. One can't blame them for not anticipating the future of the Internet, and even if they had, the hardware they had available weren't up to the task.

The result? The Internet that we all know and love is built on a rickety and extremely limited framework of legacy hardware and software, and much of its present functionality is a cobbled-together hodge podge of work-arounds and duct tape fixes. That simply won't do.

Researchers are very sensibly suggesting scrapping the present Internet and starting over from scratch, this time building a structure that has the underlying robustness, security, functionality and speed that will take us forward into the next several decades.

The National Science Foundation is only one of several organizations currently working on experimental networks; theirs is called the Global Environment for Network Innovations, or GENI. The idea is to build a parallel network that would run alongside the current one and that would eventually replace it.

Another exciting bit of news concerns plans for the first Internet router in orbit, which will allow satellites to communicate directly with one another rather than having to go through ground-based routers. Sounds a bit ominous, I know, but the more distributed the Internet is, the less vulnerable it will be to attack. Hmm, that also sounds ominous.

As always, keep up with developments by visiting this site daily.

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StephUF said...

Dang, I just got a new I hafta get another new one??