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Historia de Internet - Arpa, Arpanet, Internet - Reflexiones recientes de Baran

Reflexiones recientes de Baran

 

Paul Baran era hasta hace poco el Presidente del Directorio de Com21 Inc., Fundada por él en el año 1992. Baran tiene un Bachelor en Ingeniería Eléctrica de la Universidad de Drexel y un Master en Ingeniería de la Universidad de California, Los Ángeles. Baran es co-inventor del Ruteo de Paquetes y ha recibido muchos premios y honores por sus logros, entre ellos, la Medalla IEEE Alexander Graham Bell de la Bell. Es miembro activo de la IEEE y de la AAAS.

 

 

Narrowing the Gap to Internet Access

As the Internet evolves, the gap widens between information "haves" and "have-nots"--between highly developed nations and those where it is said that two billion people are yet to make their first telephone call. Not surprisingly, in underdeveloped nations where a telephone is rare, access to the Internet is even rarer.

As technologists, what can we do to ameliorate this problem? At the practical level, we can't do much for the throngs of illiterate older folks who have barely enough food to eat in those underdeveloped countries. But, if we handle it right, there may be much that the Internet can do for their children. In the longer term, providing their children with Internet access may also benefit our children. The wars of today are primarily among the poorest countries of the world, and small country wars have a historical propensity to act as tinder to ignite larger conflagrations.

 

Education Equalization
I believe, if we make up our mind to do so, that we technologists can offer access to the world's information to all the bright kids around the world and accelerate the process of global educational equalization. Given that information access is not a zero-sum game, sharing information allows all to win--with economic equalization likely to follow at least in the information sector. If the cost of computers, assuming the continuity of Moore's law, continues to decline within 10 years to perhaps 3.5 percent of today's cost, then the pacing factor is the cost of the communications channel.

What communications technology best addresses the Internet access needs of children in remote lands that lack any significant communications infrastructure? While no single technology is ideal everywhere, the synchronous-orbit satellite can cover one-third of the world. With electronically focused spot beams, high data rates could be delivered to small, two-way ground stations.

The most expensive system component is satellite bandwidth, so our challenge is to make maximum, efficient Internet-shared use of a very expensive channel. Each single satellite transponder is a fire hose, delivering on the order of 50 Mbps, while the upward information flow can be at low speed and low power because the primary transmissions will be human-generated input requests.

 

Cost-Benefit Ratio
Such an approach, if successful, would broaden access to essentially all the world's knowledge and thereby broaden access to education. With new opportunities for education, the children in poorer nations stand to reap many benefits--with a ripple effect that would extend to their families, neighbors, and governments.

Wouldn't such an ambitious proposal cost a lot of money and mean increased taxes for the world's wealthier nations? The answer is "not necessarily," given the potential longer-term indirect savings to the developed countries. To help maintain world peace, for example, developed nations have long provided billions in foreign aid to their poorer counterparts in the form of surplus physical goods, loans to stabilize fiscally irresponsible governments, and military weapons to protect weak countries from more predatory neighbors.

Compared to the cost of conventional foreign aid, the cost of bringing Internet access to the children of the world's poor nations will likely put us far ahead. An investment today in Internet access for the young could well be an investment in a more peaceable world tomorrow

Recall the old proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Bringing the Internet to the young in the backward parts of the world is equivalent to teaching them how to fish in the evolving information world of tomorrow.

What a wonderful challenge we have before us as we enter the new millennium!

 



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