Following up on Antonio’s recent post, I recently read a book on complex dynamics, looking for some ideas on what might happen once we will have thousands of objects in a limited space each one generating a communication space that overlaps with some others generated by nearby objects.
The assumption is credible, since there will be more and more objects embedding communications capabilities and acting as sources of communications airwaves. Since they will emit radio waves at very low power they will not require to use regulated frequencies and there is a tremendous range for establishing a communications fabric.
Will future communications network look like a Mandelbrot set?
Clearly, each of this communications area will need to interact with the ones it overlaps and there need to be some sort of handshaking to negotiate the exchange of information. This will change constantly since there will be a continuous change in interacting players.
The book, Chaos: Making a new Science, by James Gleick, does not deal with telecommunications networks but makes many references to various types of networks and note how the complexity they manifest reveals a certain order, as it is the case with the Mandelbrot set, like the one shown on the side.
In this set the overall shape can be seen over and over as you zoom in and reveal more details. What you will see is not an exact replica but close enough to give you the impression of seeing the same form over and over.
This is also what I feel will happen once we move from the centralized network of today, connecting billions of points to billions of points generating local interconnection that by hops will provide larger and larger coverage. The local communications structure will be replicated in larger and larger scale.
Clearly, the situation is different from the Mandelbrot set. Rather than starting from the big picture and revealing its (infinitely) detailed structure we are starting from a dense but finite local structure and abstract to larger structures.
What is interesting, however, is that the way to manage information transfer across the overall fabric could be seen as a set of links connecting first a major structure then going down to a smaller one and so on but repeating basically the same algorithm. This will be required since the edges will be in a continuous turmoil and our current mechanism for coupling addressing and routing will need to be revised.
One interesting point in the book is the observation that communications in our body is to a certain extent mirroring complex networks with fuzzy defined edges where chaotic dynamics exist and where order emerges. It makes me think that the more we progress in technology the closer we get to Nature’s way.