The next-generation internet will enable users of instant email messaging systems to talk in their own voice with friends around the world in any language they choose.
According to John Patrick, IBM's vice president of internet technology, this will be achieved by integrating instant messaging systems with voice recognition, language translation and text-to-speech software.
Instant messaging will take on a new form to enable users to email instant responses to each other and to enable recipients to 'listen' to replies in their language of choice, said Patrick during his keynote speech at Internet World 2000 in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Patrick said construction of the next-generation internet is well under way, and that it will be constantly available to users. He said that it will be faster, more intelligent and more secure than the current public network.
"When the internet is always on, there is a greater propensity to use it," he said, adding that dialup services would soon be as redundant as having to contact operators to make phone calls.
But he warned that businesses will have to change their policies to fully embrace the internet rather than merely accommodate it, as more consumers move online. He said ebusinesses need to be open 24 hours a day.
Patrick said the next-generation internet would benefit IBM because the internet's current capacity bottleneck will shift from networks to servers, which will increase the need for high-availability hardware.
But with an increase in the number of servers, the volume of people using PCs to access the internet will shrink as other devices such as TVs, personal digital assistants and mobile phones become more popular, he said.
These appliances will also enable content providers to introduce new functions, such as the TV advertisement Patrick demonstrated that offers a hyperlink to a vendor's website.
Patrick also predicted that XML will add intelligence to the web by enabling page-tag identifiers to contain information such as customer numbers and surnames. As a result, he said search engines will be able to better distinguish information on the web.
But he called for governments to formally recognise digital identifications as official security features, so that the industry can phase out controversial cookie technology. Cookies were originally developed to collect marketing information, but critics argue that they could threaten user privacy if abused.
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