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UCLA Magazine Winter 2004
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Dance in the Time of AIDS
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Winter 2004
Cyber Vision
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Ultra-wideband, a key element of the digital future, is a technology that allows many users to share a very broad amount of a given transmission spectrum. This, by the way, is precisely the philosophy of the Internet and of packet switching. "Instead of dedicating channels, which is what you have in circuit switching and the telephone system, in packet switching you aggregate as much demand as you can and then switch packets of information one after another," Cerf says. The result: Usage capacity is never wasted. And that’s important in a communications era ruled by the "convergence" of diverse applications.

Take the "smart phone," which Henry Samueli ’75, M.S. ’76, Ph.D. ’80, chairman of Broadcom Corporation and a UCLA professor of electrical engineering, praised at the symposium as "the best invention since the wheel." It offers messaging, e-mail, Internet access, calendar, camera and music, all in a single device. This is the kind of technology that allowed The Telegraph newspaper in Britain to send mobile alerts to 5,000 people during the last World Cup soccer competition — a beep rang every time a goal was scored. Not just newspapers but every business that understands the power of the digital age is connecting its processes and linking its marketing strategies to mobile phones.

The Internet is addictive, no doubt, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But such a compelling technology also makes people vulnerable to social evils like spam and, in the case of children, pedophilia, raising the question of whether the Internet should be allowed to prosper without a controling authority, whether it be a global body such as the United Nations or a sovereign state.

"Technologists need to find preemptive solutions to a whole sphere of problems that, for lack of a better word, can be summed up as problems of trust," says Bran Ferren, CEO of Applied Minds, a product-development company. "If problems develop to a point where our politicians think they need to fix them, then we’re in very serious trouble."


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