In this month’s ‘Topic of the Month’ we have Internet pioneer Danny Hillis arguing that the Internet wasn’t designed for the current scale of use, and so he is putting out a call for a Plan B to be developed. That is, a parallel system to fall back on should – or when!? – the Internet crashes. The question for debate, however, is if the Internet is likely to crash? Yet whether it crashes or not, there are certainly degrees of instability that are now entering the functioning and capacity of the Internet. Hillis is certainly right in one respect: the Internet was not developed with its current scale in mind
One of the major developments in the news regarding the Internet is the now almost prolific rise of cyber-terrorism; or cyber-activism. Whereas before this was mainly kept within large-scale governmental and industrial espionage, it has now arrived as a form of activism and cultural/political protest. We saw this recently in the episode of the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures for its film ‘The Interview’. The cyber-attack was allegedly from, or on behalf of, the North Korean regime for the film’s depiction of the assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un. So the question that now may be asked is whether the Internet can maintain and/or sustain itself in its present form? It may, by necessity, have to change in order to adapt to a different environment of use. So – do we need a Plan B? And what would a Plan B entail?
We also have to remember that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is on the horizon and is likely to be a game-changer in the structure and use of the Internet. With everything connected – all our household and everyday items – will this make the Internet more vulnerable, or more open/inviting for cyber-activism and/or attack?
Danny Hillis may not need to be correct in his assessment that the Internet could crash; yet he is certainly right in pointing out that we need to have other plans for the safety and security of the Internet for the future. Thoughts anyone?
Absolutely intriguing stuff! This man’s a real inspiration. do you have any other viewing/reading recommendations with regards understanding his general ethos regarding the future?
Tough, provocative topic. We need a Plan B … Plan B-ing, as in Human Being. We’ve forsaken the human element in the frenzy of ever-tempting new technologies. Thanks to these advancements and their increasing ease on everything from kitchen appliances to cyberterrorism we’ve become top heavy and vulnerable to our darker side. The push of THAT BUTTON induces a kind of slumber that lulls us into mediocrity more often than it does our best attributes. The speed of light and the speed of life seem to be catching up with each other, forcing us to both forego our humanness while perhaps bring us full circle. The very medium that connects us has simultaneously disconnected us. So Plan B-ing requires a rebalance of a system top heavy with internet dependence by reducing some of its use and restoring some of those “antiquated” aspects of our yesteryear: the postal service, phone calls, faxing, books – anything that represents a slower, tactile, more human-engaged experience. What we attribute to as “progress” is only as productive as our conscious and conscientious behaviour dictates. The “old fashioned” systems of our pre-cyber years imposed a necessary breath before acting. Now there’s a complex machinery in place whizzing us to the next level without examining how we arrived there. We can’t fully back pedal but we can reintroduce some of those previous values into current and future models. This is a generic answer to a complicated and detail-oriented issue … but it’s a clue. Our humanity needs to become a bigger priority than our insanity. The exuberance and voracious appetite of human’s curious nature about advances, discoveries and their applications needs to be tempered and administered with heart-centered and mature directive. The need for a Plan B stems from a deeply imbedded glitch in the human programming – a loss of connection to self and other. Now we’re witnessing the fruits of our efforts, for better and worse. The clue lies in Plan Being. Restore the Human so the machine doesn’t outmanoeuvre the man.