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Monday, 29 September 2008 05:19

Opinion: Vint Cerf and EU talk up the Internet

The so-called father of the Internet Vint Cerf gives his prediction for the Web's next ten years, while the EU aims for all Europeans to be able to access it at broadband speeds by 2010. Where's it all leading?

As part of its tenth anniversary celebrations, Google has invited ten experts to provide their insights on where the Internet (and the services of makes available) are headed over the next decade.

In a posting on the  official Google blog titled The next Internet it was the turn of Vint Cerf to give his predictions.

Cerf may have fathered the Internet, but did he have anything novel to say about it for Google?

"In the next decade, around 70% of the human population will have fixed or mobile access to the Internet at increasingly high speeds, up to gigabits per second" Cerf says.

It seems that the European Union is doing its fair share to make this happen. In Broadband Internet for all Europeans: Commission launches debate on future of universal service the European Commission reports that even though some countries (Denmark, Luxembourg and Belgium) have full coverage, some 7% of the EU's population are still not connected to broadband (much worse than this in the rural areas of some countries).

Perhaps Australia is not so badly off after all, considering the relative compactness of even the eastern states in Europe.

The EC's policy is to make broadband for all Europeans happen by 2010, whereas our touted NBN (national broadband network) doesn't seem to have any hope of making it by then -- indeed, our politicians might still be debating the rollout targets and schedule for the NBN during 2010.

In Cerf's short Google blog post, you'll see that he's generally predicting much the same sorts of things for our Web-connected, mobile future as are other pundits. "The Internet will also become more closely integrated with other parts of our daily lives, and it will change them accordingly."

But really, what he's predicting is mostly already with us, even if only in the early experimental stages: a burgeoning of  location-aware devices and services, the Internet connected over power grids, remote control of devices (he mentions washing machines), and so on. Nothing too new in his predictions, is there?

As has happened before and is bound to happen again, every now and then an invention or adaptation that wasn't on our radars will suddenly arise -- when some smart individual or group puts 2 and 2 together to make 5 -- something totally unexpected which will suddenly catch on and quickly become ubiquitous. I wonder what it will be.

"The Internet of the future will be suffused with software, information, data archives, and populated with devices, appliances, and people who are interacting with and through this rich fabric." says Cerf.

"And Google will be there, helping to make sense of it all, helping to organize and make everything accessible and useful."

Quite possibly true, let's hope it doesn't lead to this, or maybe to a separation like the Eloi and  Morlocks of H. G. Wells' masterpiece novel The Time Machine.

Have some fun with a challenge or two that I've devised for you!
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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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