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Networks Symmetry and Net Neutrality
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
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
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
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!
- - -
> 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.
To my knowledge, the opposite is correct. Multicast
one-to-many transmission of network packets, effectively the
same as broadcasting. It's the opposite of peer-to-peer.
(Here is a technical paper on that difference:
> 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,
Indeed. But this only works for classical broadcast-style streaming
of audio, video or other real-time data. It fails for anything that
is on-demand, and any media player with pause/forward/backward
buttons (except when those streams get buffered/pre-downloaded on the
> This is usualy how, we, simple users, receive the bullshits of the
> TV channels at home,
To my knowledge, IP multicast doesn't technically work yet because
most Internet routers don't support it. If there's only one router
between sender and receiver who blocks multicast packets, transmission
> but you may have noticed that you can't emit anything that way,
> because for us, the net is artificially made asymetric!
I think that the author is confused.
> 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).
I am completely losing it here. IP multicast didn't exist when the web
was invented - so what exactly was the web supposed to kill?
> 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.
I think that the author is utterly confused.
- - -
Concerning, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c0sX6j5D_c , I think you
missed the key message of this prostatic guru. The question is not
whether the multicast protocol is working or not, and why (I'll talk
however of this issue below) but to clarify the notion of "symmetry"
(of protocols), and to show that an asymmetrical network leads
AUTOMATICALLY to current state of the Internet, that is to say, a
centralized network, near to implode. Not to question the economic and
money paradigm, GAFA seem to be going straight for what the guru
called a "triangular trade of personal data" between them and States
on the backs of enslaved users. Thus we see how might look like
transhumans that Google makes us sparkle, to say nothing of
Regarding multicast, you mention a paper written by a DARPA-funded
scientist who can not imagine one second that the peers of P2P
networks may well become also kind of multicast routers, which would
transform the said P2P networks to P2P^10 networks!
Second, the concept of multicast is older than the Web (Steve Deering
1989) and began to be implemented on the Mbone also before the web:
Finally, yes, the prostatic guru tells the truth: the multicast
protocol is artificially used in an asymmetric fashion for IPTV.
Why multicast has not survived to the web? This is a complicated issue
that probably has common points with the VHS war of the 70s
You might be too young to have experienced the Multicast/web war of
the 90s. To my knowledge, nobody has written about that war, probably
because it is too recent and it is far from being over. However it is
real, with real victims, including scientists who worked on multicast
networks all over the world, who have seen their budgets cut to zero
(with the exception of those who have agreed to work on its adaptation
to crappy TV apps), and then all of us today, who are the playthings
of a network that claims there is no alternative and that leads us
into the wall.
Van Jacobson, one of the main promoters of Multicast has written in
1995: "How to kill the internet? Easy! Just invent the web !"
Berners Lee in some of his recent statements, is not far from agreeing with him.
Van Jacobson is still active. Here he admits that the multicast is not
"scalable" in the current economic rules. However, he seems to refrain
from thinking of new rules in the sense that the prostatic guru
indicates (symmetrical monetary creation such as http://openudc.org).
There, he worked with others to develop some patches inspired by
multicast, that would differ the collapse of net. But, AMHA, it's just
DIY ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content-centric_networking