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Our goal is nothing less than radically enhancing human understanding through the use of information technology, by making it dramatically more convenient for people to interact with information, devices, and other people. We will achieve this by developing a revo-lutionary Information Utility, able to operate at planetary scale. To validate the architec-ture, we will stress it under demanding applications for rapid decision making and learn-ing. In addition, we will develop new methodologies for the construction and administra-tion of systems of this unprecedented scale and complexity. Our success will be measured by how effectively our architecture actually amplifies and leverages human intellect.
We have assembled an outstanding expedition team of fourteen leading computer scien-tists and electrical engineers whose broad expertise spans MEMS and hardware devices, scalable computing architectures, network-oriented operating systems, distributed file systems, data management systems, user interfaces, collaboration applications, program verification, and methodologies for hardware and software design and evaluation.
The focus of the expedition is the specification, design, and prototype
implementation of a planet-scale, self-organizing, and adaptive Information
Utility. Its key innovative tech-nological capability is its pervasive support
for fluid software. That is, the ability of proc-essing, storage, and data
management functionality to arbitrarily and automatically dis-tribute itself
among Information Devices and along paths through scalable computing platforms
integrated with the network infrastructure, compose itself from pre-existing
hardware and software components, satisfy its needs for services while advertising
the services it can provide to others, while negotiating interfaces with
service providers while adapting its own interfaces to meet "contractual"
interfaces with components it services. The fluid paradigm will enable not
only mobile code, but also nomadic data, able to du-plicate itself and flow
through the system where it is needed for reasons of performance or availability.
The Information Utility will be designed to support, and to integrate with
infrastructure services of processing, storage, and information management,
a great di-versity of Information Devices. These will include radical devices
like MEMS-sensors/actuators and other capture and display devices that go
well beyond the straight-forward extrapolations of today's server, desktop
and portable computers. The Informa-tion Utility architecture will be stressed
by using it to enable demanding applications that support collaboration
and learning in virtual and physically-enhanced activity spaces.
It will be designed and evaluated using innovative tools and comprehensive methodolo-gies that are based on formal methods that span hardware and software, optimize the de-sign for decomposition into reusable components with contractual yet adaptive interfaces, and verify the correctness and safety of the whole artifact being designed.
Another innovation, enabled by the Information Utility's ubiquitous ability to capture and organize information about human activities at an unprecedented scale, will be the auto-matic extraction of implicit (tacit) information about how people interact with other peo-ple and information sources in their daily lives. This will make possible the enhanced leverage of human activities, experiences, and intellect.
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Randy H. Katz, 17 July 1999, randy@cs.Berkeley.edu