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Networks symmetry and Net Neutrality
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As you may know,1/4 of the Amazon has been already deforested in order to print reports about Net neutrality
Did we forget something? Maybe, yes !
Non tech people usualy imagine that the notion of "symmetry" in terms of networks, is a synonym of "equality" of UP and DOWN streams at user's level or "IN OUT" streams at the level of the peering points. But the notion of "symmetry" goes much further. It it also,and mostly, a question of protocols.
When Vinton Cerf, one of the godfathers of the internet, recently appointed by President Obama to the National Science Board, asserts that "Internet is symmetric”, No doubt that he is taking it seriously. Yes, lnternet is POTENTIALLY symmetric, because it contains in itself all the resources to become effectively symmetric and the big players have the responsibility to implement it. If they do not, they should not complain about the domination of Goggle and other data silos that do precisely benefit the asymmetry of the net as it is in reality.
In fact, the Internet as people know it so far, essentially implements asymmetrical protocols such as the well known http of the world wide web. Theses asymmetrical protocols, called “Unicast”, makes it necessary, when you want to achieve an "all-to-all" interaction to establish somewhere a special node which is responsible for the switch. According to the power law, it is obviously the biggest node that wins, because it allows to connect as many people as possible. In this game based on an asymmetrical protocal, the winner takes all every time (Goggle, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), which are, I would say, not social networks, but social silos), to the point that, after a while, everybody is a prisonner.of these silos, and nobody is interested to played anymore.
However, there are also symmetrical protocols on the Internet. One may think about peer-to-peer protocols such as the ones used over mesh networks, but more fundamentally, the general model of it is called "Multicast", defined as a part of IPv6, which allows "all-to-all" relationships without the intervention of any particular center, if it is the Internet in its entirety. Unfortunately, these protocols, when they are not fought by institutions (such as Peer-to-peer) are not (or little) made available to the public by the I S P and Telcos, which keep them for themselves so far. We understand why: the multicast protocol greatly saves bandwidth by allowing a transmitter who wants to send a video to a million receivers simultaneously, to emit it only once, then the routers distributed on the network replicate it, according to the requests. This is usualy how, we, simple users, receive the bullshits of the TV channels at home, but you may have noticed that you can't emit anything that way, because for us, the net is artificially made asymetric!
So, obviously, when some can use the net symmetrically, and others can not, there is no netneutraliy
Remember what Van Jacobson, another internet guru, asserted in 1995 : "How to kill the internet? Easy! Just invent the web !" Unfortunately, this is more and more relevant! By not making these symmetrical protocols available, many network players are condemned to play a game where they lose every time (and users too). Indeed, as a recent skirmish between Free a french I S P and Google denotes it, the profitability of network carriers is much lower than the one of big nodes (Youtube, etc.) and other huge data warehouses, that essentially asymmetrical protocols make them absolutely necessary. Note also that all of us, simple users, we lose also, because our personal data are drawn into bottomless pits over which we have no control.
In short, in order to escape this depressive spiral which centralises all the innovation and economic power in the hands of a few players, it would require a day where users as well as operators and others, become aware that another internet is possible: a symmetrical internet! (within the meaning ofdata flow AND protocols)
Therefore, the Internet could be a little more "neutral" than it is now, because it would anymore favor dominant positions automatically. The future would cease to be written in advance. The innovation that seems to be dry today outside from dominant silos, would revive! Finally the Peer-to-peer spirit developed by the pioneers of the Internet could finally reach adulthood and show its full utility. Thank you.
Any questions Yes, you, please!
What do you think of the projects of some governments to tax the platforms like Google, on the basis of the personal data they hold on citizens?
I fear that it will lead to clear an other quarter of the Amazon rainforest before they realizes that it is not a good idea. The intention behind is good, and I would not want to overwhelm the authors of this idea. But I have many reservations. The main one is an ethical issue. I think in a world where there is more and more a sort of fusion between ourselves and our data, trading such data will look more and more like human trafficking! The taxation of these data can not do anything against that. On the contrary, it would endorse the existence of this practice. Another question? Yes
If I am right, the establishment of a symmetrical network, would necessarily involve the legalization of the peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted files
A symmetrical network would facilitate the sharing of all types of files, and the benefits would be huge for the culture and the economy. This does not mean that sharing copyrighted files would be legal. The copyrighted files represent only a drop in the ocean. Is the defense of this drop a reason to stay in the stone age of networks
Another question? Yes!
According to you, how will we finance all this?
Thank you for asking this crucial question! Many researchers emphasize the parallelism between the asymmetric shape of the web and the current mechanism of money creation which is also asymmetrical.
How can we achieve a symmetrical network in those conditions?
If you want a symmetrical network, it is necessary to design it in such a way that it generate itself a new form of currency which has to be also symmetrical! Some people work on it! This may be the subject of one of my upcoming keynotes.
What could be the triggering event of such a change?
The network has operated until now because there was a certain symmetry between the "big fish" of the net. However, this symmetry is being broken. There are essentially three options for them: 1: being eaten by the biggest one. 2: find an agreement between them, including with the States, to make a sort of triangular trade of our personal data, that is to say, our identities! 3: Recreate the symmetry, not only among themselves, but with us. The first two solutions are ultimately quite explosive, and I weigh my words! Only the third is sustainable but nobody knows how to achieve it. This is why we must be aware about that!
If I understand you correctly, the solutions 1 and 2 prevail currently. Do you you think there some kind of conspiracy?
No, there is no conspiracy at all, just, dare I say, one of the greatest mysteries of mankind. Indeed, as far as we look in our body, or in the universe, there is no "center", no governing body of all others. The brain which is often attributed this virtue, if it has functional areas, is not built as a hierarchy ordered by any center. It is essentially a symmetrical network. The mystery is to know why we, essentially symmetrical human beings, are building essentially asymmetrical and hierarchical social networks Nothing says that we must be structured as hordes of primates or wolf packs, right? So it can change!
But in fact, Google offers us to become transhuman, even immortal!
You ask good questions. I've spotted you! The question is who would become immortal? Is it the man? Or is it the idea that the man shapes about himself? I mean the idea that some men who derive their power from the asymmetry of the networks, form about all others. I'll return to this point in a next keynote ...
Please, may I ask another question!
Thank you, but now I have a slight prostate problem. I must leave you! Ask your questions on the social silo Twitter with the hashtag WTF talks. I'll answer later with pleasure! See you soon!