The Extranet

In Synaptomen and the Outernet I introduced a concept of extending the reach of a Search Engine beyond the Digital Divide to include real people. In this instalment, I’d like to consider some directions that the Internet could take, given what is currently possible.

That the Internet will grow, is a given. What form it will take, in say 10 years from now, is intriguing. From it’s humble beginning as a glorified bulletin board and an alternative communications network in the event of nuclear war, the Internet has morphed into a “living organism”.

What is a living organism? It is born, it lives, and then it dies. This living organism, however, is spreading more like a virus. Individual cells may die, but millions more spring up to take their place. A living organism responds to stimuli. I believe that the Internet does already respond to stimuli now, but will do so far more in the future, as we give it eyes and ears.

Let me explain. Every computer sold, will by default, be part of the Internet. So too will mobile phones, PDA’s and game consoles. These pieces are not difficult to picture. Our home entertainment systems and appliances, being electronic, are also feasible. But then, we take a quantum leap and include every car, truck, bus, ship, plane and train on the planet. I don’t mean that these will be “hotspots”. I mean that they will have connectivity and an IP Addresses. They will send and receive information to/from the Internet.

On the transport front, if say there is a backup on the N1, the car will be automatically diverted to an alternative route. The transport grid will “think” and respond to the millions of stimuli received from each of the participants. Car hijackers will be easily traced and apprehended.


Billions of probes measuring everything from temperature, air pressure, wind speeds, seismic activity etc will send their information onto the Internet. I am currently writing software to measure and respond to environmental factors on a fish farm. Changes in dissolved oxygen levels in the water will send an SMS alert, trigger a relay to pump oxygen into the water and write the event to a log. I can log onto the web site, view the log with the event and the response, make further changes, and even view the site on a webcam. My demonstration tank will have a simple thermometer. By pouring 1 litre of hot water into the tank, it will simultaneously write to the log, send an SMS to me and print a report out on my daughters printer in the UK. No keyboard or mouse here.

After much resistance from “privacy” advocates, I am convinced that we will all eventually be “chipped” and join the Extranet. So too will all domestic and farm animals. Our health will be continually monitored and remedial treatment administered long before the onset of serious disease.

I would like to really expand on this subject, and as such will present a weekly instalment under the following rough headings;

  • Transport and Travel.
  • Environment and Weather.
  • Health.
  • Employment.
  • Human Relations.
  • Politics.
  • Any other interesting areas

This post is going to need plenty of comments for it to grow. Please contribute freely.
Enjoy your weekend



3 thoughts on “The Extranet”

  1. Besides the fact that we may just be made redundant by our own technology I find its rate of expansion incredible.

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