Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Internet's Future

Vint Cerf, one of the guys who actually invented the Internet and currently a Google vice president, argues that we've only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the global computer network's social, political, and economic effects:
The web is already making strides toward becoming truly global. While I was chairman of ICANN, one of the organisations that helps ensure that the internet works uniformly around the world, we adopted rules to allow the system of domain names to accommodate non-Roman characters, making the web more accessible to people whose languages use other scripts, such as Arabic, Korean or Cyrillic.

There are improvements in automatic language translation tools and, in particular, the field that we call machine learning. It is already possible to do a Google search and explore the results in English across web content in 23 different languages, from Czech to Hindi to Korean. Speakers of any of those languages can now explore content on the web written in any of the others.

The technology isn't perfect yet, but it's rapidly improving. Even in its present form, it's easy to imagine a not-too-distant future in which automatic translation will allow two people in the world to message one another in real time, each experiencing the chat in his or her tongue. Just imagine what a significant step that will be.

The end of the language barrier will unite humanity as never before. Social organization around the globe will change radically. With geographic and linguistic obstacles to collective action removed, it seems only cultural and ideological distinctions will remain.

Nation states as we know them might lose control. But what will replace them?

(Via /.)

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