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Weaving a better Web

Experts offer their take on the future of the 'Net

By , Network World
April 18, 2007 12:09 AM ET
Vint Cerf

Network World - In 1999, Vint Cerf pitched the idea of an interplanetary network that would extend the Internet's reach beyond Earth.

Even though it came from the man who had co-developed the Internet in 1973 and was at that time a spokesman for MCI, the idea seemed far-fetched to many in the industry.

Almost a decade later, Cerf, who is now chief Internet evangelist at Google, has not wavered in his belief in the idea.

"By the end of this decade, we'll have a two-planet Internet in place. We'll have software on orbiters that allow new protocols to make the Internet work across the solar system.

"This is a very exciting prospect," Cerf says.

You need only look at the billions of dollars the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has spent in the past few years to explore Mars to see that Cerf's vision is creeping closer to reality.

"It's only been eight years for this interplanetary idea to evolve. When you think how long it took the Internet -- 10 years just to get the basics in place -- this is moving quickly," he says.

Cerf is just one of many luminaries placing bets on what the future holds for the Internet and the Web. And although other predictions are not as out of this world as Cerf's, they offer a glimpse into what we can expect from the Web in the next few years.

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