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By MissPlayful
Steve says in a Comment on the idea “Wireless Digital Camera” by Maskone (posted Thu Mar 25 2004): “There are so many millions of mobiles around, maybe it would be possible to build some kind of walkie-talkie technology into them, so the data could hop from one mobile to the next (and not via the phone company), much like the data on the internet hops from one network point to the next, until it reaches the destination.” (posted Sun Apr 11, 2004).

I pondered Steve’s interesting and challenging idea. Suppose we expand this idea a bit to include the transfer not only of digital images but of all the other kinds of information we currently send over the internet. We put a transmitter-receiver on the roof of each house on the planet, and we attach it to a relay computer in each house that is permanently switched on. One of the tasks of these relay computers is to receive files etc. from nearby transmitters and forward them on to other transmitters in the directions of their destinations. We would also connect everyone’s home computers to the relay computers. And either specially adapted mobile phones or tiny portable relay computers would be the mobile component of the network.

Are we beginning to create one giant computer here stretching right around the planet? Could this be the next big step beyond the internet? Many have imagined the internet as providing the way to create a giant world-wide computer. Steve’s idea suggests a different way to do it, and if a few technical problems could be sorted out, perhaps a potentially much more powerful way.

This giant Computer Earth would have two quite different kinds of interconnections - the present type of wire and optical fiber, and Steve’s all-encompassing wirelessly communicating short-distance hopping connections. Reminiscent of the brain with its long distance nerve fiber connections and the numerous short-distance connections between each brain cell and its neighbors.

I presume the idea of connecting computers around the world wirelessly has already been considered and researched in some detail, but so far it has not advanced (as far as I know) beyond local centres of activity, linear connections between computers, and applications such as Bluetooth. There are clearly plenty of challenges for inventive minds to solve here. Creating a fully interconnected network of home computers right around the world which can act as one giant computer is surely one of the great holy grails of our times. The internet is a great start but it lacks the intense and intimate connectivity of the human brain. Could Steve’s three dimensional and ubiquitous wireless hopping connections turn the present-day cold and linear internet into Computer Earth?

Reward: A free connection to Computer Earth!
By rayok
Great idea I'm all for it - we want something like a bluetooth chip in "all" devices and a peer to peer network (like kazaa) to shuffle the data around - a truly distributed network
By Rishi
There is a story,'Moon is a Hard Taskmistress' by Robert Heinlein. In this he imagines a moon computer, which becomes sentient after the number of linkages exceeds about 10 to the power 18, which is what ahuman brain is supposed to have. Imagine if that were to happen to comp earth. Terribly exciting!

Attaboy! Or attagirl! Let us go for it.

By MissPlayful
We could call the small relay transmitters-receivers on our rooftops “hoppers”. And there would need to be “island-leapers” - large transmitters-receivers that would communicate wirelessly or by cable across gaps too big for the small rooftop hoppers, eg between continents, and between cities and towns when the intervening spaces are sparsely populated.

At the heart of Computer Earth would be a computer in every participating home that was permanently turned on. And ideally all the participating computers should be able to communicate freely with each other whenever they wished. This would greatly simplify both the running of the system and our intuitive understanding of the system.

To achieve this our rooftop hoppers would need the capacity to process many unrelated messages simultaneously, and some of the key leapers would need to process perhaps millions of messages at any one time.

If you had a maths problem for homework you couldn’t solve, or you wanted to play near-invincible computer-chess or disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity, you could harness some of the spare computing power of millions of home computers!

Could we develop this Computer Earth to a point where all of the world’s citizens could be in simultaneous contact via their home computers or mobiles? The head of the United Nations could ask every eligible voter on the planet to cast their vote at 12 noon GMT on some urgent issue of the moment, and the votes could be in and counted in a few minutes! And to give an extreme example, the following emergency message could be sent to every participating person on the planet “Giant asteroid about to strike Earth in ten minutes. Run for it!” Or to paraphrase a cartoon (The Potts by Jim Russell) “Here is a message that will profoundly affect the lives of every person on the planet for years to come. But first, a word from our sponsor!”
By Rishi
Already some universities are harnessing computers around the world to solve large data crunching jobs. You are invited to down load a screen saver after being told that your computers IDLE TIME will be used by the programme. Along with the screen saver you will be downloding (Transparent to you) a programme and a chunk of data to be processed. Whenever your comp is on and idle this programme runs in the background. The next time you geet on the net the results are sent to the university server and a new load of data transferred.

You are actually donating your processor time to the project.

This seems to be a start to the kind of thing that is being proposed.

By midoh
:-? I think that an embryonic form of what Miss Playfull has in mind is already in place.There is a programme called SETI@HOME which any compuer user anywhwere in the world can download on to their computer.It's a screensaver with a difference though.During idle times (i.e. when you are not actively using your computer SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelleigence ) starts using your home pcs' number crunching power to sort through a portion of the radio -wave data picked up by the Arecibo radio observatory in Puerto Rico! So in a sense any Joe or Jane soap can play a collaborative role along with thousands of others worlwide in finding a signal from an intelligent civilisation somewhere else in the Galaxy. A proto-computer Earth searching for another long-lost-cousin-computer-world ,somewhere out there. B-)
So far no such signal has been found yet. :,-( :,-( :,-(
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By Steve
Miss Playful, first of all, thanks for picking up my idea from the other thread. I did have the feeling I was onto something there, and I was very pleased that I wasn't the only one who thought so. ;-D

Midoh and Rishi, you are both referring to the same concept, but I believe that this is not the idea behind this thread. With SETI, a central instution utilizes the resources of several "satellite computers." If I got Miss Playful right, however, she was thinking about a huge system of machines that may equally and wirelessly communicate with each other, as well as be freely used to relay communication packages of others without boundaries. The clue is unlimited connectivity, not shared resources, and it goes far beyond what we know as today's internet. The idea that this might ultimatively lead to a global equivalent of the human brain came to me as well - I think it's an exciting example of what the core of this idea is about.
By Rishi
A global, boundary free connectivity is the final idea. In a sense the satellite connections are 'Wireless'. The current use can be considered as one node. When this becomes a few billion we will have what the thread is looking for. However, for wireless speed of light is a limit. For wires it is much lower. So, the communication can get limited Band widhth will also put its spoke in at some stage. Still, worth thinking about.

By MissPlayful
Steve says "a huge system of machines that may equally and wirelessly communicate with each other, as well as be freely used to relay communication packages of others without boundaries", and "unlimited connectivity", and Rishi speaks of "A global, boundary free connectivity". Yes - this is the way to go!

Midoh has brought to our attention the Seti project. If Computer Earth becomes a reality, the seti project and other projects like it would be able to tap into the unused processing power of perhaps a billion home computers. And much more processing power could be added to the system by connecting some supercomputers to it - as much as there was demand for. Project teams would use programs perhaps not dissimilar to todays web browsers to connect to Computer Earth and have at their fingertips as much spare processing power as they needed!

Now Rishi's comments about using satellites raise an important question. Could free communication between vast numbers of participating computers around the world be achieved using a network of satellites? Would this be a more efficient method than using short-distance wireless hopping? Short-distance communication is central to the activities of the human brain and I have an intuitive feeling that it would be a central part of Computer Earth. But brains as they evolved never had the option of satellite communication! In building and evolving Computer Earth we do have the option of satellite communication. We are not restricted to using wires and short-distance electrical and chemical communication as the brain is. If evolution had found a way of wirelessly connecting different parts of the brain (or even different brains) via satellites, the brain may have evolved very differently.

Already we can talk to our next door neighbors using a satellite phone. In fact we can stand right next to another person, so close that they can hear every word we say, and talk to them via a satellite thousands of kilometers away! It sounds a bit ridiculous but it might turn out to be more efficient for our computers to talk to our next door neighbors’ computers via satellites rather than via short-distance wireless.

But short-distance wireless has some big technical advantages over satellite communication - it uses a lot less power, transmitters-receivers are very much smaller, and problems of interference would probably be far easier to overcome. I don’t think using a network of satellites for Computer Earth would be technically feasible at present, but there is a large amount of research presently being undertaken on both short-range wireless communication and satellite communication so we shall see what develops. Given the pace of development I would not be surprised if an early form of Computer Earth could be up and running in our lifetimes using both forms of communicaltions.

Finally and farcically, I have just spent most of my spare time over the past three weeks sorting out a mysterious and fundamental problem in my own tiny computers, cause unknown but requiring several reformats of my main hard drive to solve. Even now I’m not certain I’ve got rid of the problem - is there the computer equivalent of an evil spirit lurking somewhere on one of my seven hard drives? Like the extraterrestrial beast lurking in the depths of the spaceship in the film Alien. You know it’s hiding somewhere and it’s going to come up behind you when you least expect it. Let’s hope that Computer Earth is never subject to such radical problems - I would not like to contemplate having to reformat the whole of Computer Earth - a mere billion or so hard drives!
By sevenizm
1st let me say it sounds good now but we got to see it 100 years from now. 100 years from now every inch of the planet is a hot spot (wireless connection port). The GPS technolgy would have advanced to the point to be able to track migrating ants underground. Computer chips in everything from sneakers to door handles.

Every song you have ever listen to, show you have watched, mail you have sent / received, picture you have took etc... Has been documented on a server somewhere.

We never need credit cards or identification because we would of been registered and tracked since birth. Satellites now have the abilty to follow movement, register temperture, time, speed, sea level ect... Imagine in 100 years with the harnessed power of all computers connected in some sort of SEIT type configuration.

No need for the police to pull you over, the satellite tracked you speeding, issued the ticket, took the money out your account and informed you that you have 2 points on you liscence through the satellite radio you were listening to as you were rushing to work.

Or you go into a store, pick something off the shelf you saw an advertisment for and would like to try, as you get ready you pay (or automatically accept the charge to you account), the cashier tells you she can't sell this to you because your doctor put a restriction on your diet and you can't eat this try this instead.

All this will be possible with unlimited wireless computer resources. I am having visions of THE MATRIX. In about 100 years we will have smart homes, smart cars but dumb people. Dumb because we will let computers start making choices for us. Television and remote controls invented the couch potatoe. Imagine the mental couch potatoe.

I'm not parinoid, I just think too many good things can be bad.
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