Assembling the Planetary Computer
After twenty years, the “S-curve” of building out the wired internet with hundreds of millions of PCs as its end points is flattening out, with corresponding lowering of the growth rates of the major suppliers of that global infrastructure. At the same time, several new “S-curves” are reaching their steep slope as ubiquitous computing begins to sweep the planet. Leading this will be a vast expansion in heterogeneous end-points to a new wireless internet, moving IP throughout the physical world. Billions of internet connected cell phones, embedded processors, hand held devices, sensors, and actuators will lead to radical new applications in biomedicine, transportation, environmental monitoring, and interpersonal communication and collaboration. The combination of wireless LANs, the third generation of cellular phones, satellites, and the increasing use of the FCC unlicensed wireless band will cover the world with connectivity. The resulting vast increase in data streams, augmented by the advent of ass market broadband to homes and businesses, will drive the backbone of the internet to a pure optical lambda-switched network of tremendous capacity. Finally, peer-to-peer computing and storage will increasingly provide a vast untapped capability to power this emergent planetary computer.