RCFoC for Dec. 22, 1997 --- Making The Impractical, Commonplace.

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Mon, 22 Dec 1997 15:26:40 -0800

Some nuggets from this week's Rapidly Changing Face of Computing...


> Will the Internet and its content continue to be virtually free? Will
> it embrace established methods of funding, such as advertiser support
> or pay-for-content? Or will the first global, multimedia, interactive
> network in the history of mankind explore yet-untried ways to give and
> get value as the rapidly changing face of computing continues to open
> new opportunities?
> My answer, to them all, is "Yes!"

Interesting. I don't think of the current Internet as free at all.
The costs are just hidden for the most part from we the end users.

Then, Mr. Harrow goes into an advertisement for Teledesic...

> "Internet In The Sky" -- The Not Too Distant Future!
> The bandwidth bar is rising even higher -- right out of this world.
> Have you wondered if Bill Gates' and Craig McCaw's ambitious plan to
> float a girdle of 288 low-Earth orbit "Internet In The Sky"

Is the 288 number still correct? (That would be too gross. :)

> satellites, providing 64 megabits/second(!) downstream and 2

Why does 64 megabits/second not seem as impressive as it used to?
Frigging bandwidth inflation has corrupted my mind.

> megabits/second upstream data to anyplace on Earth by 2002, is "real"
> (http://www.teledesic.com/tech/details.html)? Well, Teledesic has
> recently cleared its last major regulatory hurdle, having received
> approval to use the entire set of radio spectrum it needs from the
> World Radio Conference
> (http://www.teledesic.com/newsroom/11-21-97.html).

I forgot to remark on this in November, but cool.

> In fact it's so
> real, that Craig McCaw himself (the creator of the first giant
> cellular company in the U.S., McCaw Cellular) has now taken up
> Teledesic's helm as CEO to shepherd things forward.

I guess the golf courses can wait.

> I'm enthusiastic about this project because it holds the potential to
> "change ALL the rules." Teledesic will certainly change things for
> developed countries. Instantly, high speed "fiber-like" Internet
> access will become available anywhere you wish it (no waiting for
> ISDN, ADSL, or cable modems to come to your neighborhood), opening up
> serious telecommuting opportunities without any regard for terrestrial
> infrastructure, and even putting our cars "online".

YESSSSS! YESSSSSSSSS!!! I can't wait!!!!!

> But the potential
> for developing countries, where there currently many not be a voice
> telephone for a hundred miles, is astounding. Suddenly, a world of
> communications, information, and even entertainment will open up
> without regard for geography or national boundaries.

Teledesic was formed for truly altruistic purposes, eh? So that the
poor people with no bandwidth can now have a piece of the pipe...

> I like the way Teledesic puts it:
> "On Day One of service, Teledesic will enable broadband
> telecommunications access for businesses, schools, and
> individuals everywhere on the planet."

Poor Rohit could really use some of this in India right now. Two weeks
without Internet feed is going to atrophy his brain.

By the way, he heads for Calcutta today. Oh, Calcutta!

> I believe that if they perform as expected and keep their user costs
> low, Teledesic, and Motorola's Celestri
> (http://www.mot.com/GSS/SSTG/projects/celestri/) which is also due out
> in about the same 2002 time frame, could be seminal undertakings for
> our entire global society. Not just for the societies within
> individual countries, but as the next great "change agents" that will
> build on the Internet's ability to bring information, employment, and
> commerce to most anyone who cares to indulge.

This is a little too "Prophecy of Things That Might Be (TM)", but I
gotta admit, the thought of waiting 4-5 years for this is killing me

> Just imagine if you could assume constant connectivity regardless of
> where you go. Might this change your business, and your personal life?
> (Look what pocket cellular phones and pagers have done already!) Could
> it change the economies of business on a global scale? (Look what the
> current Internet is already in the process of doing!)


But then I get down from the chandelier and realize that Mr. Harrow also
likes to talk science fiction...

> "A Whole New Window On What Might Be Possible!"
> So says Case Western Reserve University physicist Lawrence Krauss,
> explaining the latest experiments in quantum teleportation (yes, you
> read that correctly) in the Dec. 11 Boston Globe
> (http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe/globehtml/345/Einstein_s__spooky_act
> ion__achieved.htm). Why is this important? Because it holds the
> potential to allow future computers to ignore the rules of time,
> speed, and distance without getting a ticket! But as he's also the
> author of "The Physics of Star Trek," we can suspect that Krauss is
> thinking first in terms of the "Transporter."
> The reality, of course, is that we're a long way from that mythical
> machine -- at the moment. But the reality is also that these first
> successful experiments, demonstrating that the properties of matter
> can indeed be instantly transmitted across distance, could -- just
> could -- be the research shoulders on which such devices might
> eventually be built.
> What happened is that Anton Zeilinger and his team at the University
> of Austria (as well as a separate team in Rome) demonstrated that they
> could transmit the polarization of one photon to another, distant
> photon, when the photons had originally been "entangled." (Don't ask
> me how you "entangle" photons; it's probably a hormone thing.) But in
> the world of quantum physics, what happens to one of a pair of
> entangled particles magically happens to the other one, regardless of
> where it might be located.
> An explanation in a CNN story helps to clarify this
> (http://cnn.com/TECH/9712/10/beam.me.up.ap/):
> "Call three photons A, B and C, and assume the goal is to
> transmit A's polarization to C. The researchers created B
> and C as entangled photons. Then they entangled B with A.
> That second step destroyed A, but not before B took on the
> opposite of A's original state. This change meant B's
> entangled partner, C, had to change polarization to remain
> the opposite of B's. So C's polarization ended up the same
> as A's used to be. The polarization was transmitted."
> The Globe emphasized that it's not actually the particle that's
> getting "transmitted," but an attribute of the particle. Think of it
> as if the first of two "entangled" rubber balls, one red and the other
> blue, caused its red color to be taken on by its blue counterpart as
> the red one was destroyed.
> But therein lies the catch. The "original" was destroyed in the
> process. So perhaps Star Trek's Dr. McCoy's squeamishness about the
> transporter was prescient -- while we know that computers NEVER crash,
> would you be willing to let one destroy all your atoms as it imparted
> your "You-ness" to a new set of particles located somewhere else?

Absolutely. Where do I sign up? When it reassembles me, can it remove
all the fat cells and all of the boneheaded brain cells, so I'm just a
lean, mean, brainy machine?

> Cheating?
> It may happen, occasionally, and purely by happenstance of course,
> that two students in a programming class might deliver similar code in
> response to a class assignment. But unless a professor was to
> diligently study every submission, he or she might not notice. Until
> now.
> It seems that Berkley Associate Professor Alex Aiken has developed a
> program that examines other computer programs, looking not only for
> outright copying, but also for "similarities." It's called "Moss"
> (Measure of Software Similarity), and Aiken provides this service to
> any programming instructor for free, over the Internet.
> The instructor simply sends a set C, C++, Java, Pascal, Ada, ML, Lisp,
> or Scheme homework files from the class to Moss, which returns a Web
> page highlighting elements of similarity. (It automatically suppresses
> "expected" matches from code the instructor supplies, programming
> libraries, etc.) Details are at
> http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~aiken/moss.html .
> Now this, by itself, could well be a valuable service to the educators
> of the world (indeed, thanks to the Internet, it IS available to
> educators around the world). But where I find this most intriguing is
> in how the concept might be extended into the commercial sector...
> Suppose such a program, in conjunction with databases holding the Web,
> Newsgroups, and other Internet content that now exist (such as the
> Internet Archive - http://www.archive.org/), was to scan THE CONTENTS
> OF THE ENTIRE INTERNET for potentially plagiarized works? Since the
> Internet Archive contains downloadable software (executable programs),
> could Moss be extended to apply its techniques to binary (executable)
> code, rather than to a student's source code? How about to Java
> applets? Could it be extended to look for copyright and patent
> infringement? If so, especially in light of toughening intellectual
> property laws in cyberspace such as the recently signed "No Electronic
> Theft Act" (http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,17443,00.html?owv),
> would a company or publisher who owns intellectual property be willing
> to pay for such a scan? I would expect so...
> In the Knowledge Age, commercial opportunities abound, and they can
> arise from unintentional roots. All it requires is looking "outside
> our nine dots," our "comfort zones."

Hey RobH, do you think I could use this to find similarities between
lines in MsgList? :)


It's not enough that the instructions were written by the Marquis de
Sade, translated from the French into Swahili, ported to Japanese,
thence to Aleut, and then translated by the monks into a variant of
English not seen since Chaucer. No, no, my friends. It is that the
author of the instructions never had to use them.