07 Sep Madison professor emeritus will consult on development of 'Internet 2'
Madison professor emeritus Larry Landweber, who was involved in one of the first networks to use Internet technology, may lend his expertise on the next stage of the Internet, which has been proposed by the National Science Foundation.
The Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) branch of the National Science Foundation has proposed a research project that may lead to the next generation of the Internet.
The Global Environment for Networking Investigations, or GENI, if approved, would allocate funds to its two parts; roughly $300 million over five years to develop experimental facilities, and $200 million on network research.
The GENI project’s main focus would be to find solutions for the current problems with the Internet, encouraging researchers to find ways of overhauling the current system in favor of a “clean slate design.”
The project would investigate new ways to incorporate wireless devices, avoid existing problems, and solve for those that may arise.
“We all experience problems with today’s Internet. We have security problems, spam problems, privacy issues, problems of congestion, … inadequacy of local access speed, a lack of real integration of wireless devices into the Internet, legal problems relating to lack of respect for copyright and intellectual property, and issues related to taxation,” said Landweber, a senior advisor to the CISE and a professor emeritus at UW-Madison.
“What most people don’t understand is that the Internet is 30 years old,” Landweber said. “The first paper that described the Internet concepts was written in 1972, and by the end of the 1970s, there was a working Internet. … This is pretty old technology. One of the problems is that people are so embedded in today’s Internet that it’s very hard for people to think out of the box. It’s hard for people who are used to the way things are happening to imagine something totally revolutionary.”
If the GENI project receives funding, Landweber would work as a consultant for CISE as it tries to find solutions to the problems.
In the 1980s, Landweber helped to build CSNET, one of the first networks that used Internet technology on a large scale to show its viability.
While he will not be directly involved with the new project, he will be encouraging researchers to be as innovative as he was to come up with new solutions.
“It’s really time to take a new look at all of this, and not only fix the problems that allow us to go forward today, but look at what it’ll be like in 20 years. Ten or 20 years is a small horizon,” Landweber said. “What we do today started 30 to 50 years ago, so if you’re going to do research, you have to look not only at how you’re going to expand next year, but what it’s all going to be like in 20 years. There are always surprises along the way.”
While researchers across the country have been working on solutions to Internet security and access problems, Landweber commented that research projects could only go so far without experimental facilities. The GENI project will provide researchers with an environment where they can find the solutions that work best, come up with revolutionary solutions, and to incorporate wireless technologies, and sensor and RFID networks into the infrastructure of the Internet.
“What they’ve been lacking is this experimental facility,” Landweber said. “People have ideas, but they don’t have answers. The point of this project is answers, doing research to see what will work. You don’t plan a scientific revolution. It requires creativity and a new insight. GENI is an attempt to look into the future.”
The whole program will spend about a half billion dollars over five years, but is still in the preliminary stages. CISE hopes to get the GENI project approved in the fall of 2007, so that it will appear in the FY2008 budget. The project must first be approved by the NSF, and then presented to Congress and approved. If accepted, the GENI project will receive funds from the NSF program that supports major facilities, such as telescopes and physics colliders.