Future Networks

Jeff Covey on freshmeat.net writes about recent and future network software developments and some of their technical/legal implications. The article is slow at first, rehashing Internet history, but becomes almost eerie at the section past Seti@home entitled ‘data services’. Implications for medicine? Have I been staying up too late at night? Read on.

Covey describes lucidly why the online music site Napster and the software by the same name has difficulties from a legal standpoint. Then the article becomes almost eerie when describing a similar, but decentralized online media sharing program Gnutella ‘There’s no way to shut it down. There is no organization to sue to stop it. There is no server to unplug that would bring the network tumbling down. As long as at least two people are running the software…’

He further extrapolates about ‘projects…that will build upon these notions to create an even more powerful incarnation of a peered network that incorporates notions of perfect anonymity, trust, secrecy, realtime communication…’

Interesting from a medical point of view in which physicians could have their own private network of medical information between trusted elements which would make lawsuits difficult and true anonymity possible. Completely confidential transactions could occur between patients and physicians, particularly if virtual doctors, i.e. doctors communicating with patients from cyberspace occur. I think I’ve stayed up too late.

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