Internet: the super-highway says Vinton Cerf
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Internet: the super-highway says Vinton Cerf

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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BANGALORE: By the turn of the next decade, a Kalpana Chawla onboard the nex-gen space shuttle can expect to write back home about her experiences sitting, as it were, right in the middle of nothingness.

If all goes well with the InterPlaNet (IPN) project-short for Inter-planetary Internet, spacecrafts across the solar system will be able to communicate with each other as well the people back on the third rock from the sun.

Sounds like it is straight out of an Arthur C Clarke sci-fi classic? Not really, since Vinton G Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the Internet and currently the vice president and chief Internet evangelist, Google, is spearheading the IPN project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

“We are working on standardizing the protocols so that spacecrafts can communicate and share information across the universe,” he said while addressing the media here today. Speaking on the “Future of the Internet”, he envisioned a manifold growth in Internet enabled devices. He cited some examples of devices such as refrigerators, picture frames, and even surfboards that are presently Internet enabled. “We will see newer business models emerging based on such advances,” he noted.

Underlining the focus of technology to be improvement of people’s lives and the environment, Cerf emphasized on the need for the Internet to make the people living on the ‘fringes of economy’ more visible to the markets. “The Internet by itself cannot alleviate poverty, but it can play the role of an enabler,” he quipped. He cited the example of Mohammed Yunus’ micro-credit policy and linked it to the Internet world. “The micro-transaction model can be used by websites, wherein they could provide information to the end-users free of cost, drawing their revenue from other sources.” Such free information, he continued, could constitute best prices of commodities that farmers could get for their produce. Central to powering this model would be the mobile telephony sector. “Internet should go hand in hand with mobiles,” he said, while adding that application developers would have to come up with innovative interfaces to face up to the challenge of the small screen interface.

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