David Clark, who led the development of the internet in the 1970s, is working with the National Science Foundation on a plan for a whole new infrastructure to replace today’s global network.
Clark, who served as chief protocol architect for the government’s internet development initiative in the 1980s, wants researchers to re-imagine the infrastructure that connects computer users around the world.
The problem with today’s internet, according to Clark, is that its 30-year-old design, which allowed for the development of exciting new applications (the world wide web, e-commerce, file sharing, you name it), is now stifling further growth.
A new architecture could allow for ubiquitous embedded wireless communications devices and sensors. It could also provide for more secure and convenient forms of commerce. A super-high-speed internet could even allow people a world apart to collaborate inside elaborate 3-D virtual arenas, a process called tele-immersion.
As for today’s internet, new applications and protocols meant to address security issues and wireless and ubiquitous devices may not be enough to solve its underlying problems.
Even Clark agrees with those who say the internet currently serves most of its users quite well. But he said applications and technologies introduced incrementally to the existing system, such as those springing from engineering working groups and the Internet2 research consortium, cannot solve the internet’s fundamental architectural problems.