Cybernaut 

The next big thing?

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Here are the things that I do consider to be "the next big things" in technology.

• In March, Cisco announced a new series of routers that will speed up servers and the Internet as a whole. Dubbed the CRS-3, these routers are at least a dozen times faster than existing technology. They would conceivably allow someone to download the entire HD, 3D version of Avatar - probably around 10 Gigabytes - in about 72 seconds. Previously, routers were bottlenecks that limited the speed at which data could travel. They will no longer be an obstacle. As you can guess both the movie studios and the people who download movies for free from torrent sites simultaneously crapped their pants when Cisco made the announcement.

• Last week Hewlett Packard demonstrated a new memory technology called Memristor which will essentially double the amount of memory that companies can pack into a Flash drive without any loss of performance. Like Flash it is sturdy (data doesn't decay as quickly over time), low power (up to a 10 th as much power used compared to a hard drive) and lightning fast. Hard drives could literally be obsolete within the next three to five years.

• Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favour of Comcast after they shut down torrent downloads over their network, something that could cast a shadow over the web as a whole by giving ISPs the power to decide who can download what and how fast. The ruling throws open the whole issue of Net Neutrality by siding with a company rather than its customers. There are concerns that companies could use this ruling to block out other content streams to silence their competitors and critics, to back company goals politically and to interfere with the free flow of information. What happens next (Will the government appeal the ruling, or pass a law in favour of net neutrality?) will ultimately determine the future of the Internet as we know it.

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