Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Our Emerging Global Nervous System

We're accelerating towards a global computing grid which will tap unimaginable power from hundreds of thousands of computers, as powerful as a brain. The collective intelligence which emerges will rival our present fantasies of Artificial Intelligence

As we modelled the eye to build cameras, the brain to build computers, the ear to build speakers, we're modeling our autonomic nervous system to build the next evolutionary step in computing. Networks that independently and reflexively self -regulate, configure, repair, optimize, and protect in the same sense as an immune system or an automatic pilot.

This would allow the network to automatically manage server load balancing, process allocation, monitor the power supply, automatic update software and fend off threats without having to consult the administrator.

For example, if an application starts performing badly, it automatically receives increased resources. If software or hardware fails, it doesn't even ripple the end users coffee. An autonomous computing system would roll out new patches, monitor and adjust the resources singular end users need, set up servers... all the mundane stuff.

The complexity of integrating and managing the latest hardware and software into existing systems is destroying the advantages of economies of scale. Autonomic computing is one way of insulating the IT administrator from the mundane complexities and freeing them to do other more interesting things like understanding the needs of the business more, or modelling and automating existing business processes.

On a larger scale, it spells an evolutionary move towards a decentralized global self-configuring, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-protecting nervous system. Since Autonomic Computing can look for patterns in data and extrapolate to predict future events, deployed on a global scale, the spin-offs will be very interesting.

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