Years ago, George Guilder, editor of the acclaimed "Guilder Technology Report," called the Internet "dumb." Well-known telecom consultant David Isenberg called it "stupid." They used those terms to contrast the Internet with the traditional telephone network, which for years was called an "intelligent" network.
Dumb Means at the Edge
In order to add any new type of service to the "intelligent" telephone network, switches must be reprogrammed throughout the entire system. In contrast, the Internet serves as a transport, taking packets in at one end and pushing them out the other. Instead of revamping the internal network, new services and features are added at the periphery of the Internet by installing different software in users' PCs and in the servers.
Not All That Dumb
The global Internet was never set up for quality of service (QoS), which prioritizes traffic and gives real-time voice and video preference over data. However, some ISPs assign QoS priorities to the traffic it takes in and delivers to its own customers, but once those packets exit the border of that ISP via a peer or transit connection to another ISP, those settings are deleted. Thus, the global Internet is dumb, but traffic within an ISP can be very smart. See IP on Everything
, edge device
, net neutrality
, IP address
and IP telephony