Kevin Kelly has a great article over at Wired Magazine (here – thanks Julie for the pointer).
In the article, he analyzes the history of the web and extrapolates where this might lead us. Talking about the web as a giant machine that has been on continuously for the last 30 years, he says:
“In 10 years, the system will contain hundreds of millions of miles of fiber-optic neurons linking the billions of ant-smart chips embedded into manufactured products, buried in environmental sensors, staring out from satellite cameras, guiding cars, and saturating our world with enough complexity to begin to learn. We will live inside this thing.
Today the nascent Machine routes packets around disturbances in its lines; by 2015 it will anticipate disturbances and avoid them. It will have a robust immune system, weeding spam from its trunk lines, eliminating viruses and denial-of-service attacks the moment they are launched…”
He continues, predicting that we live in a time as momentous as when religion or science were born:
“There is only one time in the history of each planet when its inhabitants first wire up its innumerable parts to make one large Machine. Later that Machine may run faster, but there is only one time when it is born.
…Three thousand years from now, when keen minds review the past, I believe that our ancient time, here at the cusp of the third millennium, will be seen as another such era. In the years roughly coincidental with the Netscape IPO, humans began animating inert objects with tiny slivers of intelligence, connecting them into a global field, and linking their own minds into a single thing. This will be recognized as the largest, most complex, and most surprising event on the planet.”
This reminds me of a great book I read many years ago – The Symbiotic Man – a must read if you are interested in this stuff.