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The end of IPv6

The end of IPv6 will not be our fault, at least not directly.

Indirectly, and in the next 25 years or so, bots will be so ubiquitous to the modern web, that bots will have bots with bots, and they will autonomously be setting up both physical & virtual servers to scale their requests in such a way that will eventually saturate even the IPv6 protocol.

340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456

This is the number of available addresses in the global IPv6 range. If I’m right, that’s gonna take a lot of bots.

But consider that services like Akismet claim to fight spam at more than 7.5 million requests per hour, and Gravatar claims to serve more than 8.6 billion images per day, and that’s with me only cherry-picking 2 services that help power 25% of the web, amongst a sea of tens of thousands in the remaining 75%.

As services like these start to become increasingly intelligent, their computational needs increase exponentially, and the number of independent services necessary to keep up with those needs will follow suit.

Consider an application like Slack, where upon opening 1 application, it opens close to 20 individual sockets, each acting like a neurological meld between the client application on my Mac and the many servers they no-doubt are wrangling to keep up with the growing number of Slack networks I’m a part of.

When you start to look at the raw numbers, the insane amount of traffic, the ludicrous amount of connections required to make the world wide web of computers interact with each other, IPv6 suddenly starts to look less big than it did originally.

If we round up Gravatar’s numbers to 10 billion images per day, it will only take 100 days to hit 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) images. I have no idea how many physical servers (or public IP addresses) it takes to do this, but I bit it’s at least a few. If a few more services the size of (and equally as efficient as) Gravatar are invented, we start to double-up pretty quickly.

And I have a hunch that no service will be as efficient as Gravatar is at doing what it does; anything of this scale will only grow in complexity and necessities.

It may not happen in my lifetime, but make note that if you squint far enough into the not-too-distant future, even IPv6 won’t save the internet for very long.

By JJJ

I help build WordPress, BuddyPress, bbPress, EDD, Sugar Calendar, and a bunch of other super neat stuff.

4 replies on “The end of IPv6”

This is one of those problems that I don’t think has a better solution. Computationally, what’s possible is limited by the silicon and cost. IPv6 is next, and IPv8 will probably follow to incrementally address this again when we get to that point.

I think it’s interesting now, to have been around the sun enough times to more quickly identify that humans are really good at implementing stop-gap solutions that end up being permanent infrastructure solutions. Juxtaposed to satellite radio, which is a beautifully invisible infrastructure about to be usurped by wifi in our cars.

I think bots building bots is going to be one of those things that when I’m old, I’ll talk about that didn’t exist, but my grandkids will not know a world without. I won’t trust them; they will trust them implicitly. I don’t think there’s anything to do but plan for that future and prepare for it. <3

But it will probably going to be enough. You see you future, Internet does not need to like this internet. The medium and process of communication will undoubtedly change in next 50 years or so. So, I like your concern about bots, but don’t worry about IPv6.

We would have been better off implementing IPv6 addressing ONLY, without any other changes to the IPv4 header. Some geekoids that have zero social skills forgot about the golden rule of humans — KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. All the bells and whistles are keeping us from migration.

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