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Workshop: Future Network Architecture

The internet – if not the internets – is a complex system influenced, guided and pushed forward by a set of principles. Thereby technology, principles of technology and of governance policies interact with each other. Predicting future developments in these fields is a difficult game. But some propositions can be made.

The draft paper
The workshop was based on a draft paper prepared for the Symposium by Avri Doria. The aim of the paper was to look at the technological innovations that the Internet may experience over the next decade, attempting to understand some of the possible policy issues that would emerge.

The latest version of the Future-Network-Architecture-Draft-Paper is available here.

The workshop
The overarching aim of the workshop was to explore the links between network technical architectures and possible policy implications applied to the internet. Starting with a set of principles distinguishing between technology and policy, it was a basic proposition in this session that technology and governance policy are inexorably linked and that they affect each other at each stage of development.

The second part of the workshop aimed to review some of the architectural and technological changes that may cause policy considerations over the next decade. The technology projections, including the clean slate-approach vs. evolving technologies, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence, showed that developments in the future are not easy to predict.

A response on further aspects to consider was given by William J. Drake. Amongst others, he referred to general functions of principles and to the role of government in new policy-making environments.

The workshop was chaired by Elwyn Davies.

Discussion and remarks
The discussion during and afterwards yielded interesting remarks, particularly addressing three research directions:

Same, new or changed principles
During the discussion a series of remarks were given related to new or changed technology and policy principles, for instance a policy issue of storing information, net neutrality, interoperability, peer2peer technology, and open standards in cloud computing. Specifically the question was raised, what will come after or instead of the Domain Name System. Human interests as basis for technology decisions, in a way of mashup networks as source of more independent networks, was also mentioned as a new principle of future internet architecture.

Role of stakeholders
With much criticism the role of governments, concerns about their access to data and their mindset of securitization were pointed out. State control of national walled gardens networks and of policy-making processes were not only underlined as important research issues but with strong impact on driving the future network architecture. In this line, research should also pay attention to ISPs and the Telecomms who are pushing alternative models of governance for technology policies.

Privacy and intransparency
As introduced in the paper as well as mentioned in the workshop process, the issue of future internet architecture faces a lack of basic research, especially when looking at policy from both the technical and the social perspectives.