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Vint Cerf Imagines the Net's Future At NASA 67

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the smaller-faster-better dept.
destinyland writes "Vint Cerf performed an hour-long Q&A at NASA for their 'Singularity University' (which is partially funded by Google ). A question about Twitter led Cerf to imagine even more useful micro-applications using the wireless internet and cell phones, including real-time health data and checking your location against a map of known biohazards and disease outbreaks. 'These systems have applications which I think we will discover over time,' Cerf says, adding 'For me, the exciting thing to just anticipate, are the new ideas for using these instruments.' Also speaking were Ray Kurzweil and nanotechnology expert Ray Merkle. (Read an interview with SU co-founder Peter Diamandis in the new issue of H+ magazine)."
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Vint Cerf Imagines the Net's Future At NASA

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  • Imagine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:06AM (#28636951) Journal

    Imagine having advice hooked up that could monitor for a heart attack or a stroke. If detected, emergency could be called automatically. If reliable, what would this do for survival rates? In many cases, survival or simply the degree of damage is determined by how quickly treatment begins. I think something like this, if reliable and unobtrusive, would be a major leap forward for health treatment.

    • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:19AM (#28637189)

      Imagine having advice hooked up that could monitor for a heart attack or a stroke.

      Imagine having a device hookedup that could monitor basically everything about you, and report it in real time to the government. Or anyone else that you might not like knowing everything about you.

      In the ideal, this could be really incredibly useful. In actual practice, it sounds like the worst nightmare of basically anyone who wants privacy of any kind.

      • Re:Imagine (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:30AM (#28637343) Journal

        When I wrote the original post, I knew this would be the first response (outside of a goofy troll, I was right). Basically, every advance has the potential to be used for evil purposes. It is up to us as a society to stand up against that. That has nothing to do with the technology itself.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Wish I had mod point.

          To many people misunderstood, or didn't even bother to read, 1984.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by causality (777677)

          When I wrote the original post, I knew this would be the first response (outside of a goofy troll, I was right). Basically, every advance has the potential to be used for evil purposes. It is up to us as a society to stand up against that. That has nothing to do with the technology itself.

          Here's the difference: did it come from top-down edicts, or from the overwhelming demand of the people? That is, is it something most people have wanted for a long time now that has finally become possible/economical, or is it something that must be sold to them? Is it a solution looking for a problem? Is its participation entirely voluntary and opt-on only or will people be coerced in some way into accepting it whether they want it or not? After all, if it's "for my own good" you should have no stake

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If I am having a heart attack I don't care about my privacy. I am Peter help me.

        • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Interesting)

          by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @12:22PM (#28638881)

          Basically, every advance has the potential to be used for evil purposes. It is up to us as a society to stand up against that. That has nothing to do with the technology itself.

          Yep. Every technology can be used for evil purposes. And "society" has every right to stand up against that sort of thing.

          The question becomes: is there any way that society CAN stand up against that sort of thing if we're all wearing our little monitoring devices?

          I'm not specifically talking about the government doing the monitoring, but SOMEONE will monitor things, if only for "quality control purposes". Any problems with your ex- being one of the people who do the monitoring? Yes, your ex- is unlikely to be doing that but the people doing that are going to be SOMEONE's ex-. Is it okay if they can keep track of every orgasm you have? If they can monitor your vitals, they can tell when you're having sex, after all.

          How about if they can check on WHO you're having sex with? It'll be someone in the same location, and unless you're really crappy at the whole sex thing, your partner's vitals will let anyone watching know that they're having a good time too...

          Lots of things I could be doing that I don't want the government to know about. Even more that I don't especially want the neighbors to know about. Much less than neighbor's computer-literate teenagers....

          And since this is all broadcast, just about anyone with sufficient savvy and equipment can monitor pretty much whatever they want - the internet doesn't keep too many secrets very well, after all. And cell phones even fewer....

      • by LKM (227954)
        Imagine if you could decide who gets what information.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ShiftyOne (1594705)
      That could be an early possibility. This technology could also be used to monitor your body in real-time, ensuring that you are staying healthy. This would allow for prevention of heart attacks and strokes, instead of allowing for fast treatment after the problems occur.
      • Re:Imagine (Score:4, Insightful)

        by causality (777677) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:00AM (#28637743)

        That could be an early possibility. This technology could also be used to monitor your body in real-time, ensuring that you are staying healthy. This would allow for prevention of heart attacks and strokes, instead of allowing for fast treatment after the problems occur.

        I am not a doctor of any kind so this obviously is not a medical opinion. I am just saying what I believe to be common sense. This is one of those where I say "I have karma to burn." I don't expect it will be well-received because people who don't take responsibility for their well-being really seem to hate being reminded that they can. They regard you as something of a religious infidel for thinking that people aren't nearly so helpless as they tend to believe.

        If I were worried about my health, I would eat mostly fruits and vegetables with some meat, I would exercise regularly, and I would learn how to handle problems without being stressed out by them (it's amazing how important that one is). If I were fat, I would work hard and do something about it until I were no longer fat. If I smoked, I would take steps to quit. Every day I would take a moment to really enjoy the hell out of something, even if it's some small thing. I would do all of those things, and then and only then, would I go to the medical system to resolve any remaining issues.

        I see the obesity statistics and things of that nature. I go outside and I see some very heavy people everywhere. Most of them aren't doing anything about it; they are too busy trying to be "accepted" for it. Then I see all of the problems that folks with that lifestyle have to deal with, all the suffering they tend to have later in life, and I think of one word: "preventable."

        I don't want real-time health monitoring devices. I want a society that can achieve a basic level of well-being without them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Do you know what a false dichotomy is? Your post is a shining example of one.

          In your argument, I am either 'unconcerned' with my health, and want this device to cover for that. Or I live a healthy lifestyle and shun this.

          Perfectly healthy people have strokes. A lady I worked with in her 60's had one. She was perfectly health and coul out-exercise most of the 30-somethings in the office. The first stroke was minor. However, she had a second that was worse, partially due to not having someone there to report

          • by causality (777677)

            Do you know what a false dichotomy is? Your post is a shining example of one.

            In your argument, I am either 'unconcerned' with my health, and want this device to cover for that. Or I live a healthy lifestyle and shun this.

            Perfectly healthy people have strokes. A lady I worked with in her 60's had one. She was perfectly health and coul out-exercise most of the 30-somethings in the office. The first stroke was minor. However, she had a second that was worse, partially due to not having someone there to report it. If you have a stroke, you may be unaware of it because it is affecting your brain. An observer would notice right away something was wrong.

            So while you can feel good about yourself and your superior eating habits, there are reasons a device like this may be useful to those who aren't fat and lazy.

            So you mention a rather rare occurrence and believe that this better represents the typical case than my scenario which clearly described people who could be taking much better care of themselves? Sure, there are people who eat perfectly, run five miles a day, lift weights, and then drop dead from heart attacks at relatively young ages. Do you know why they're noteworthy? Because they're rare. That's not generally how things work out. For that matter, non-smokers get lung cancer sometimes, but I would

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by causality (777677)

      Imagine having advice hooked up that could monitor for a heart attack or a stroke. If detected, emergency could be called automatically. If reliable, what would this do for survival rates? In many cases, survival or simply the degree of damage is determined by how quickly treatment begins. I think something like this, if reliable and unobtrusive, would be a major leap forward for health treatment.

      You do know that tyranny and the invasion of privacy is always "for the good of the land," right? I'm going to engate in some speculation here, something you might call a plausible scenario.

      The problem is that if this health monitor becomes available and reasonably cheap, it will probably become difficult to obtain health insurance without it. The stated reason will be cost. So, in that way it's going to be required of everyone whether or not they care about the privacy aspects. I find that scenario

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Hi,

        The solution to the problem you bring up is to deal with the problem, not the technology that brings the problem to a head. If we have a problem with health care in this country, then deal with the issue. Don't go "ABC is a bad technology and should not be pursued". That is foolish. There is a potential for real health benefit. Don't throw it out because it is easier to do so that to actually deal with the problem.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          The solution to the problem you bring up is to deal with the problem, not the technology that brings the problem to a head. If we have a problem with health care in this country, then deal with the issue. Don't go "ABC is a bad technology and should not be pursued". That is foolish.

          That seems wise. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater and all. Technology by itself is neutral, people make it good or bad through how they use it.

          Now, if you could just clear something up for me. Are you saying we sh

      • by fl!ptop (902193)

        The problem is that if this health monitor becomes available and reasonably cheap, it will probably become difficult to obtain health insurance without it.

        the other problem is that it takes gov't a long time to do anything, so by the time the gov't bureaucrat assigned to monitor your device (assuming we get nationalized health care) gets around to calling the ambulance, you'll probably already be dead. from old age, not a heart attack or stroke.

        or at least, that's what they'll tell your next of kin. that

    • Imagine having a method, that could prevent getting any heart attacks at all. If detected, trashy food could be thrown in the trash where it belongs automatically. If reliable, what would this do for survival rates?

      Now imagine what this would do to the incomes of big "health" companies.

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:13AM (#28637081) Homepage

    All of a sudden, the cellphones of everyone around you whoop with the "red alert" sound from Star Trek. You take your phone out of your pocket. "Swine Flu Reported Nearby" flashes on the red screen. Covering your mouth with your shirt, you and everyone else start running in all directions, spreading the flu immediately to the surrounding communities. The process repeats like the grand-finale of the fireworks display, until the deadly disease is evenly distributed throughout the world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxume (22995)

      Don't worry, government firebombs would save the world.

      We are talking about highly unlikely dystopias, right?

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      All of a sudden, the cellphones of everyone around you whoop with the "red alert" sound from Star Trek. You take your phone out of your pocket, read the message and run hysterically and as quickly as you can at a random direction. People seem to do exactly the same. After what seemed to be a lifetime you reach a dead end alley. Someone taps your shoulder from behind. You turn around and there he is, Patrick Swayze. Seconds later you explode.
  • Seriously? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quangdog (1002624) <quangdog@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:15AM (#28637117)

    checking your location against a map of known biohazards and disease outbreaks.

    Seriously?

    When was the last time you rounded a corner and stepped right in a pile of biohazard or disease outbreak? While I can see the utility and potential upside to a lot of the ideas being implemented on mobile devices these days, some of them seem to be solutions looking for a problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      I'm traveling to India soon, and I would very much like to avoid the parts with malaria if I can. It would be useful to know that a large number of people in some neighborhood were diagnosed with malaria recently, especially when picking a hotel.

      It would also be good to know recent parasite and food poisoning stats on a per-restaurant basis.

      • by quangdog (1002624)
        And how will data required for this be collected? How will we know it is reliable and up-to-date?
        • Hospitals with fully-computerized records will eventually have data like this. If 10 people come in with food poisoning in one day, and the hospital ask them where they have eaten in the past 48 hours, it doesn't take an amazing programmer to write an algorithm which identifies the dirty restaurant.

          Similarly, with malaria, home or work addresses of patients would identify diseased areas with simple automated processing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Amouth (879122)

            while agree the algorithm is easy.. but..

            have you ever read electronic medical records? have you ever seen how these people input data?

            the amazing programmer is the one that designs the system that gets them to input it right

            • You don't need perfect data for statistical analysis. Furthermore, it is wrong to assume that hospital employees will necessarily and perpetually do a very poor job of data input. The finance industry does an incredible job of tracking even fractions of pennies. With improved procedures, UIs, and/or incentives, the data could be collected far more accurately.

              • by Amouth (879122)

                oh i have no doubt that it can and will happen over time..

                but i did want to point out that compared to what you have right now .. it will be amazing.

                and while you don't need "perfect" data - it helps to have it somewhat relevant.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          This data is already collected by several agencies.
          While in most cases it' will lage a couple of week, many disease outbreaks in poor countries linger for many months, to years.
          If it's a surprising, or large outbreak, data will be available pretty quickly. Those event get into the media pretty quick.

          If I was traveling I would like to know which area have lingering disease problems, or emerging problem.

          Of course, I can't figure out why anyone would willingly travel to these places, but to each their own.

        • http://www.healthmap.org/ [healthmap.org]

          HealthMap brings together disparate data sources to achieve a unified and comprehensive view of the current global state of infectious diseases and their effect on human and animal health. This freely available Web site integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources (such as Google News) to curated personal accounts (such as ProMED) to validated official alerts (such as World Health Organization). Through an automated text processing system, the data is

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      When was the last time you rounded a corner and stepped right in a pile of biohazard or disease outbreak?

      Doesn't this happen in Phillip K Dick novels a lot?

    • by noundi (1044080)
      Never, but for some reason elephants [slashdot.org] constantly step on my phones. But we'll show them, won't we Land Rover?
    • by tomcode (261182)

      Best idea since Bear Patrol

    • Last week I stepped in some dog poop. Does that count?

  • GOOGle's strangle-lock on our Internet has irrationally limited the perspective of the Web to a two-dimensional aspect. Why limit ourselves to two dimensions, when scientists have long proven that human consciousness has at least four dimensions?

    HOWEVER, I don't know if another government panel like NASA is the answer to this. What's needed is some forward thinking innovation to evolutionarily expand the organic dimensions of web "pages" into multi-dimensional info-spheres.

    With everyone focused on the "clou

    • by msparker (449164)

      Wow. Andreessen is right; Vint Cerf can't keep up [slashdot.org].

    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:35AM (#28637411) Journal

      Okay, help me out here Slashdot crowd. Is the above post an example of:

      A) Sufficiently advanced trolling is indistinguishable from stupidity
      B) Sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling
      C) A and B
      D) None of the above

      Thanks.

      • by maxume (22995)

        I'm gonna go with D. It seems to me that there is a huge group of people that like the feeling that comes from being enthusiastic about something, so rather than thinking critically about well-defined ideas and concepts, they think superficially about vague ideas and concepts that engender enthusiasm.

        Hence the group that is nearly religious about the supposed implications of 'the' singularity, and the current state of Wired, and so forth.

        But maybe that qualifies as advanced stupidity.

      • Tough problem... I think you should try and get this in as a poll. I'm leaning towards B although that could just be an aspect of my two-dimensional perspective and A is also a strong candidate...

      • Friend, do you remember when new ideas and new paradimes enthralled and excited you? But now, the cognitive straightjacket of your two-dimensional GOOGle-approved "web browsing" has transformed this natural human inquisitiveness into a cynicism bred by a pathalogically limited "worldview."

        Your scoffing dismissal of my comments only lends credence to the urgent need to reanimate the internet by empowering multi-dimensional perspectives in its software applications.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Yes, he has clearly been educated stupid. I however can see the obvious reality of the simultaneous four-fold Info-Cube. GOOG can only hide, not undo, that which is already the only Truth. And it is reality, friend! Software need not be empowered, it need only be undefeatured. All information and thus all web pages are already Cubic!

  • How about we try to develop an app platform that is vendor independent - not simply so we can have homegrown apps, but so that you don't have to choose your cell service provider based on what apps you want to run. While we're at it, can we make software for phones that will run reasonably fast? I hate having to hit the power button 7 times, each time wondering if the button is worn out or if the software just hasn't caught up yet.
  • by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:22AM (#28637239)

    Seems the obvious application:

    "20 meters!"
    "Get set, folks."
    "15 meters!"
    "Short, controlled bursts."
    "10 meters! 5 meters!"
    "That's impossible! That's inside the room!"
    "It's readin' right, man!"
    "Well, you're not readin' it right." Hicks takes the Phone and look at the screen. "He's right, 3 meters...oh, wait. Hold on, call for you." Hands the phone back to Hudson.
    "Thanks....Yallo. Going okay. Yessir. Yessir. No sir, not a bug hunt. Pretty much everyone. It wasn't me, man! Yah I remember last time. Who? Sorry, he's dead. He's dead too. Hicks? Yeah, sec." Hands the phone to Hicks who is listening to what can only be described as impatient tapping on the ceiling.
    "Yah. No, he's right, only a few of us are left. Acid for blood. Hardly believe it myself, sir. Trying sir, but we need to get to orbit first. Oh. Really? That's new. Lemme look. Wow. There really is an app for everything. Ok. Well, five and a half to beam up. No, Paul Reiser isn't dead. Yet." Hicks fires a grenade into the ceiling. "Energize."

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      "Trying sir, but we need to get to orbit first."

      That whole thing was awesome, but that bit really made me LOL. Glad you remembered to take out Burke, btw. :)

  • by starglider29a (719559) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:41AM (#28637485)
    I can think of A BUNCH dampers to The Swarm (smartphone micronetwork):

    Privacy
    Until we learn to balance paranoiac fears of privacy invasion with "the good of the collective", these things will not reach a fraction of the potential. For example, I drive an hour to a choke point. I don't want the world to know where I am at any instant, but would like to know that if I slow down 3 mph, I'll get through the choke point sooner.
    Civility
    I would like to use my smart phone to talk to people in the commuter swarm around me. "Dude, your left rear tire is low." But, being a Slashdotter, we know where that would go. "Dude, you have an Apple sticker, yer a fking fanboi! die die die!" Lawyers
    From inter-network contracts to micro-restraining orders (from the apple fanboi above), the potential for litigiousness will throw sand and syrup into this machine. And don't get me started on "intercept trajectories" with that hot chick who walks down the bike path every other day. "Hey, I just happened to..." "Right, get lost..." She presses the 'repel' button and is steered away from me henceforth.
    Money/ROI
    Throughput caps, and the exceeding thereof, will get expensive. Texts cost nothing, should be free, but they are not. If everything I do costs a penny, that adds up. The ROI won't hold up. Not everything I do is worth a penny. I make money 8 hours a day, but can spend it 60/60/24/7/365. How long can I sustain that?
    Life (as in getting one)
    I was a chat maven. Made some good, REAL relationships. No one is on chat anymore. People not on Facebook are virtually vanished. For now. I drive, I work, I cook, I eat, I sleep. Where does micronetworking ADD to that? "Say, I detect that you are adding Worcestershire sauce to that burger. Here are some Swarm Coupons for Baconnaise instead. Say, I detect that your cholesterol level is too high to warrant eating a burger. Say, I noted that you haven't moved outside the house in 4 days despite my detecting good weather in your area. Perhaps you should skip the burger and walk to the store for some lo-fat yogurt with bactieria cultures that I detect you are low in. Your neighbor 2 houses down has smelled your burger and wishes he could have it. Give it to him instead. I detect from his Swarmer that he has a 23% chance of dying of obesity in a month anyway."
    Time
    Nothing I do with a smartphone will get me time back. Sleep, chill, read, kiss. None of these require a Swarmer. It takes away. I watched 16 innings of baseball and went to sleep. Just as I drifted off, my phone texted me regarding the results. Thanks for that.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Privacy - You're not that interesting.

      Civility - no one cares, and not that much of an issue when you know and can see the person.

      Lawyer - Hey, being able to be alerted when certain people are around me is a good thing. I'm not sure why you think lawyers need to be involved.or how the hell micro-restraining orsders would even work with any practicallity.

      Money/ROI - considering we live in a world were a lot of data and apps to work with that data are free, I'm not wure where the penny comes in.

      Life - If they

      • Good points. Got me thinking.

        Privacy - You're not that interesting.

        I have a list of cookies that disagrees with you. I am the WORST at responding to ads. I'm surprised Google hasn't banned me for non-performance.

        Civility - no one cares, and not that much of an issue when you know and can see the person.

        True, I've never flipped off a driver I could see~

        I'm not sure why you think lawyers need to be involved

        Nor I, but they always seem to get in there somehow. Like, when I want to drop my Sprint and get an iPhone. OOPS, contract!

        Real friends/Meatspace

        I have that handled. However, most of the meat is in different time zones. Different work schedules. Voice to voice is tricky. Meat to meat is rare.

        When I'm waiting for something,while waiting for a meeting to start, or waiting for a coffee

        You sound like yo

  • by sfraggle (212671) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:02AM (#28637773)

    Has anyone else noticed how much Vint Cerf resembles the Architect out of the Matrix films?
    The Architect [wired.com]
    Vint Cerf [cyberpunkreview.com]

    I think maybe we should be worried, especially if he's lecturing at "Singularity [wikimedia.org] University".

  • Here is a recent talk by Vint Cerf about the early days of the Internet and it's future.

    http://www.wuala.com/Danathar/Videos+Music/Cerf.mp4 [wuala.com]

  • The introduction note contains a typo. It is Ralph Merkle, not "Ray Merkle", that is involved in nanotechnology and the Singularity University as can be seen from his WikiPedia page and his web site (www.merkle.com).

  • at least in the US of A, as long as the "broadband" part remains at the mercy of "providers" like the cablecos and phonecos. But I'm very happy for those who live in the developed world. Life will be good there.
  • And I can prove it with this little explanation:

    If you look at natural processes, they grow exponentially. Until limiting factors come into place. Then the curve flattens again, until it is horizontal, and the limiting factors and the growth balance each other out.

    The inability to cope with the speed of change, close to the singularity, will itself be such a limiting factor.
    Which will mean, that the speed of change will limit our ability to change things, slowing that speed of change itself down, until they

    • If you look at natural processes, they grow exponentially. Until limiting factors come into place.

      Interesting, your mom hasn't yet demonstrated this phenomenon you speak of.

    • Actually the singularity is not really about exponential growth -- I mean, sure, Ray Kurzweil writes about it a lot and uses it as evidence to get people excited, but the main idea of the singularity is that once we can create a high-level AI (at or greater than human), it can modify itself to become "smarter", and then that modified self could modify itself, and then it recursively continues. "Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of a
    • Are you suggesting that change that is faster than "people" can "cope" with, simply doesn't happen? This would come as quite a surprise to coal miners, polar bears, Iranian ayatollahs, newspaper publishers, and the RIAA, to name a few.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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