Friday, May 01, 2009

The future of the Net

From a provocative piece at New Scientist:

Heylighen speculates that it might turn the internet into a self-aware network that constantly strives to become better at what it does, reorganising itself and filling gaps in its own knowledge and abilities.

If it is not already semiconscious, we could do various things to help wake it up, such as requiring the net to monitor its own knowledge gaps and do something about them. It shouldn't be something to fear, says Goertzel: "The outlook for humanity is probably better in the case that an emergent, coherent and purposeful internet mind develops."

On a darker note:

Beware surfers: cyberspace is filling up

Experts predict that consumer demand, already growing at 60 per cent a year, will start to exceed supply from as early as next year because of more people working online and the soaring popularity of bandwidth-hungry websites such as YouTube and services such as the BBC's iPlayer.

It will initially lead to computers being disrupted and going offline for several minutes at a time. From 2012, however, PCs and laptops are likely to operate at a much reduced speed, rendering the internet an "unreliable toy".


Nick Redfern said...

It won't matter: if the Republicans get back in power in 2012, they'll find some way to shut the Net down anyway...

Anonymous said...

>> Experts predict that consumer demand, already growing at 60 per cent a year, will start to exceed supply from as early as next year

That does not seem to make any sense. There is still tons of room for improving the network. If there is demand (people willing to pay for bandwidth), supply will follow. Why else are we on broadband anyway and not still plugging away over 56k dial-up? In Japan you can order fiber to the modem in your living room for hardly more than what I pay for basic cable broadband.

Anonymous said...

I have a trusted source involved with several related research programs, who tells me that a form of sentience will indeed evolve from the larger structure of the net within the next 3-5 years. This will be pushed forward by a number of incredible advances in adaptive AI.

What it will lead to ultimately is a form of "personal assistant" which you can effectively have manage a number of tasks for you in an adaptive, thoughtful way. This intelligence will also define itself and all information by looking for the best info and recompiling it in new ways. This will transform how we intake our information in a profound way.

The "fall" of the current internet is more like a migration to a new standard. We are seeing the evolution of silicon based intelligence right now that will push our civilization beyond its current boundaries.

Exciting times!


Chris Wren said...

I think both options are equally likely. The internet will become more and more like a true thinking machine, but it will also become more and more expensive to run and to access. This will push whole demographics and even whole countries off the net entirely, unless governments (who will probably still have bigger things to worry about by 2012) are willing to subsidize user fees and infristructure upgrade costs. The more it becomes sentient, the more expensive the internet will be.

Anonymous said...

If ISP's have a shortage of bandwidth, they will throttle it or use data transfer caps. Considering the fact that most ISP's (at least in Europe) have unlimited data transfer at the moment...
And we haven't even moved to fiber to the home. There's always cable if that is too expensive. And if that for some reason would become too expensive, there's adsl over a phone line. And if that's not possible; you're not living in civilization.

>>The internet will become more and more like a true thinking machine

What does that mean? Give an example.

Anonymous said...

And if that's not possible; you're living in the United States.Sorry, Anony3. Just couldn't help correcting your typo. :P

I'm leaning on the, "The Internet will have to be greatly scaled back from present to survive." side of the fence for now. I'd prefer it didn't as I rather enjoy the internet, but everything has limits and the writing on the wall seems to indicate that we're going to feel some good old fashioned limitations soon enough.

I'm also leaning on the, "All that stuff about the internet becoming conscious is nonsense in the truest sense of the word" side of the fence. For now. It's good fiction, at least, when used intelligently (Serial Experiments Lain comes to mind).