Thursday, February 28, 2013

A robust internet - your future, is it safe?


How robust is the internet?
Over the last decade, a number of commentators have suggested that the internet is not particularly robust and could be subject to failure.
There are a number of reasons to believe that this would be a real problem.
The "internet economy" was worth £121bn in 2010, more than £2,000 per person, or 8.3% of the economy according to the Boston Consulting Group. That made it bigger than the healthcare, construction or education sectors.
The Google report, The Connected Kingdom showed that the internet's contribution to GDP is set to grow by about 10% annually, reaching 10% of GDP by 2015. The UK, according to the report, is the world's leading nation for e-commerce. For every £1 spent online to import goods, £2.80 is exported.
This calculation does not include the facility that the internet offers every citizen from texts, email, radio and TV. No internet would be an economic disaster.
David Eagleman author of  "Why the Net Matters", suggests four way the internet could be interrupted in an article for CNN:

  • Solar activity
  • Cyber warfare
  • Political interference
  • Physical attacks on infrastructure such as data cable.
Todate, although there have been attacks from each of these sources, the response by governments and the industries have been swift and effective.
This huge resource powers the nature and scope of knowledge, the epistemic core. The internet extends into every aspect of modern civilisation.
Certainly it is in the interests of all sectors of the economy to sustain and protect the internet.
For all industries and no less

 Public Relations, there is a critical dependence on the internet.

Nearly all PR is now mediated by the internet. But what would happen if someone switched it off?

Over the last decade, a number of commentators have suggested that the internet is not particularly robust and could be subject to failure.

There are a number of reasons to believe that this would be a real problem.

The "internet economy" was worth £121bn in 2010, more than £2,000 per person, or 8.3% of the economy according to the Boston Consulting Group. That made it bigger than the healthcare, construction or education sectors.

The Google report, The Connected Kingdom showed that the internet's contribution to GDP is set to grow by about 10% annually, reaching 10% of GDP by 2015. The UK, according to the report, is the world's leading nation for e-commerce. 

This calculation does not include the facility that the internet offers every citizen from texts, email, radio and to TV. 

David Eagleman author of  "Why the Net Matters", suggests four way the internet could be interrupted in an article for CNN:

  • Solar activity (Not unusual. Sometimes not benign)
  • Cyber warfare (It is ongoing. Some State sponsored and some just criminal)
  • Political interference (Remember Egypt tried it during its revolution)
  • Physical attacks on infrastructure such as data cable.

For all industries and no less Public Relations, there is a critical dependence on the internet and so we do need to know how it is being defended.

Centralised services are vulnerable ‘pinch points’.

Search and retrieval of information over the Internet and the Web are centralized for efficiency and economy of scale. Typically such centralised services like Google Search and Bing are subject to ever tighter control and taxation by vested interests (the French Government extracted a Euro 60 million fund from Google to help French media organisations “improve their internet operations” this year). Thus administrators of those centralized facilities, as well as government agencies can cause information accessed over the Internet and the Web to be selectively filtered or censored completely.

An alternative distributed search and retrieval system, without centralized mechanisms and centralized control (and taxation), can reduce people’s concerns about filtering and censoring of information on the Internet. They exist and include the iTrust system which is a decentralized and distributed system for publication, search and retrieval (http://itrust.ece.ucsb.edu).

Other  internet and associated systems are becoming more robust and come from developments such as the "systemic" computer.

This self-repairing machine now operating at University College London (UCL) could keep mission-critical systems working. For instance, it could allow drones to reprogram themselves to cope with combat damage, or help create more realistic models of the human brain.

Jeff Patmore, head of Strategic University Research at BT offers us another reason to believe in the strength in depth of the internet.

He notes that if only one per cent of the people on our planet created a blog entry or a video on YouTube just once a year, their contributions would amount to at least 60 million new artefacts each year.  This gives people a commitment towards the efficiency and survival of the internet.

With the enormous and growing repository of content on the internet, an almost ‘Darwinian’ effect takes place. Those items that become popular through vast numbers of 'hits' and viral communication survive, often becoming part of popular culture, and those items that do not come to the attention of the population, or have few 'hits', eventually vanish. 

We all contribute to this ‘voting mechanism’ every time we access content and click on a hyperlink.

However, the Berkman Centre at Harvard is developing technologies to ensure information placed online can remain there, even amidst network or endpoint disruptions.

Such decentralised systems tend to be very robust and are more difficult to hack.

Another reason to believe that the internet and associated systems are becoming more robust comes from developments such as the "systemic" computer. This self-repairing machine now operating at University College London (UCL) could keep mission-critical systems working. For instance, it could allow drones to reprogram themselves to cope with combat damage, or help create more realistic models of the human brain.

The internet is here to stay and there is a lot of work going on to ensure that it will continue to serve us.



Sources:

 http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/10/tech/web/internet-down-eagleman

http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fnews%2Ftechnology-21302168&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNF6YkWG1sRrar2o6NAgn_KW1goJzQ

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729045.400-the-computer-that-never-crashes.html
http://www.btplc.com/Innovation/Innovation/Darwinism/index.htm