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Toward the eco-grid: a harmoniously evolved interconnection environment
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Source Communications of the ACM archive
Volume 47 ,  Issue 9  (September 2004) table of contents
End-user development: tools that empower users to create their own software solutions
Pages: 78 - 83  
Year of Publication: 2004
Hai Zhuge  Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
Xiaoqing Shi  Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing
ACM Press   New York, NY, USA
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The Internet, along with its myriad resources and users, constitutes a vast artificial virtual environment that benefits all of human society. But both the general public and the research community may be unaware of its developmental trend toward disorder due to the exponential growth of the numbers and types of its resources and users. By way of analogy, this trend can be explained with the help of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that if we regard the environment as a closed system with constant volume and energy, then every change to the system increases its tendency toward entropy.


Note: OCR errors may be found in this Reference List extracted from the full text article. ACM has opted to expose the complete List rather than only correct and linked references.

1   Berners-Lee, T., Hendler, J., and Lassila, O. The Semantic Web. Sci. Amer. 284, 5 (May 2001), 34--43.

2   Ian Foster , Carl Kesselman , Jeffrey M. Nick , Steven Tuecke, Grid Services for Distributed System Integration, Computer, v.35 n.6, p.37-46, June 2002

3   Jim Gray, What next?: A dozen information-technology research goals, Journal of the ACM (JACM), v.50 n.1, p.41-57, January 2003

4   McMichael, A., Butler, C., and Folke, C. New visions for addressing sustainability. Science 302, 5652 (Dec. 2003), 1919--1920.

5   Zhuge, H. China's e-science knowledge grid environment. IEEE Intelli. Syst. 19, 1 (Jan.-Feb. 2004), 13--17.


"Frank Land"

Zhuge and Shi, both academic researchers at the Key Lab of Intelligent Information Processing, in the Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, have written a fascinating work, in which they outline the architecture of a future "eco-grid": a harmoniously evolved interconnection environment. They foresee the Internet gradually falling into disorder, due to the pressure of its exponential growth. Its replacement, on whose design they are working, will be based on the principles that have permitted a complex ecosystem to evolve, and sustain itself, over the ages, since the formation of our planet.

The design they envisage incorporates an underlying idealistic and optimistic notion of how the eco-grid will evolve, into a harmonious entity, capable of benefiting all of human society. They appear to underestimate the capability of the human species to use the capabilities instrumentally, to serve a variety of purposes, many of them malignant in intent, as evidenced by the use of the Internet for pornography and pedophilia, and other technologies having negative effects unforeseen by their designers. It is not clear to what extent their architecture is a self-regulating mechanism, or to what extent its regulations are imposed by its designers. If it is the latter, the authors have not faced up to the problems created by contested value systems. Indeed, under such circumstances, the eco-grid will be subject to many of the disruptive forces that affect the Internet.

The article does not attempt to guess what technologies will support the construction of the eco-grid, and it is interesting to note that, among the list of relevant principles, rules, and models, technology and engineering are not mentioned. Perhaps the article should be regarded as a manifesto, to start a debate, rather than a blueprint for our future.

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