The Internet: World War 3.0 (?)

by Judith Curry

There is a war under way for control of the Internet, and every day brings word of new clashes on a shifting and widening battlefront. Governments, corporations, criminals, anarchists—they all have their own war aims.

Vanity Fair has a superb article entitled World War 3.0, with the following intro:

When the Internet was created, decades ago, one thing was inevitable: the war today over how (or whether) to control it, and who should have that power. Battle lines have been drawn between repressive regimes and Western democracies, corporations and customers, hackers and law enforcement. Looking toward a year-end negotiation in Dubai, where 193 nations will gather to revise a U.N. treaty concerning the Internet, Michael Joseph Gross lays out the stakes in a conflict that could split the virtual world as we know it.

It is a long article with fascinating description of the history and the ‘players’.  Some excerpts:

The War for the Internet was inevitable—a time bomb built into its creation. The war grows out of tensions that came to a head as the Internet grew to serve populations far beyond those for which it was designed. Originally built to supplement the analog interactions among American soldiers and scientists who knew one another off­-line, the Internet was established on a bedrock of trust: trust that people were who they said they were, and trust that information would be handled according to existing social and legal norms. That foundation of trust crumbled as the Internet expanded. The system is now approaching a state of crisis on four main fronts.

The first is sovereignty: by definition, a boundary-less system flouts geography and challenges the power of nation-states. The second is piracy and intellectual property: information wants to be free, as the hoary saying goes, but rights-holders want to be paid and protected. The third is privacy: online anonymity allows for creativity and political dissent, but it also gives cover to disruptive and criminal behavior—and much of what Internet users believe they do anonymously online can be tracked and tied to people’s real-world identities. The fourth is security: free access to an open Internet makes users vulnerable to various kinds of hacking, including corporate and government espionage, personal surveillance, the hijacking of Web traffic, and remote manipulation of computer-controlled military and industrial processes.

One way to think about the War for the Internet is to cast it as a polar conflict: Order versus Disorder, Control versus Chaos. The forces of Order want to superimpose existing, pre-digital power structures and their associated notions of privacy, intellectual property, security, and sovereignty onto the Internet. The forces of Disorder want to abandon those rickety old structures and let the will of the crowd create a new global culture, maybe even new kinds of virtual “countries.” At their most extreme, the forces of Disorder want an Internet with no rules at all.

A conflict with two sides is a picture we’re used to—and although in this case it’s simplistic, it’s a way to get a handle on what the stakes are. But the story of the War for the Internet, as it’s usually told, leaves out the characters who have the best chance to resolve the conflict in a reasonable way. Think of these people as the forces of Organized Chaos. They are more farsighted than the forces of Order and Disorder. They tend to know more about the Internet as both a technical and social artifact. And they are pragmatists. They are like a Resistance group that hopes to influence the battle and to shape a fitful peace. The Resistance includes people such as Vint Cerf, who helped design the Internet in the first place; Jeff Moss, a hacker of immense powers who has been trying to get Order and Disorder to talk to each other; Joshua Corman, a cyber-security analyst who spends his off-hours keeping tabs on the activities of hackers operating under the name of Anonymous; and Dan Kaminsky, one of the world’s top experts on the Internet’s central feature, the Domain Name System.

Although they may feel a certain kinship with one another, they are not an organized group. Their main point of agreement is that the Internet has changed the world forever, in ways we are only beginning to understand. They know that Order is impossible and that Disorder is unacceptable. They understand that the world is a messy place whose social arrangements come and go. But they are united in the conviction that what must be preserved and promoted at all costs is what the forces of Order and Disorder, in their very different ways, are both intent on undermining: the integrity of the Internet itself as a reliable, independent, and open structure.

The Net has given more individuals more power in a shorter period of time than any new technology in history. And unlike many other world-changing technologies, there is no institutional barrier to access. This has made it, on balance, mostly destructive of institutional authority, especially that of nation-states. National sovereignty encompasses many powers, but one of its core elements has been a monopoly on the control of overwhelming force. Now that hackers are able to penetrate any and all computer networks, including military ones, that monopoly no longer exists. Nation-states, not surprisingly, resist the erosion of their power and seek ways to reclaim it.

And if Internet companies do not want intrusive regulation, whether from their own governments or from treaties such as the one to be negotiated in Dubai, they will need to start solving the Internet’s problems on their own. Melissa Hathaway, who led cyber-­security strategy for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, points out that “the top 20 Internet service providers in the world carry 90 percent of the Internet traffic. They can see when you’re infected by a botnet. They can see when you’ve been hacked.” Hathaway has defined a set of general principles that Internet companies and governments might get behind, such as a “duty to warn if in imminent danger.” As she puts it, “It’s just like the law of the sea: the duty to assist.”

Beyond this core agenda, the forces of Organized Chaos, by and large, think that the Internet should be allowed to evolve on its own, the way human societies always have. The forces of Organized Chaos have a pretty good sense of how it will evolve, at least in the short term. The Internet will stratify, as cities did long ago. There will be the mass Internet we already know—a teeming bazaar of artists and merchants and thinkers as well as pickpockets and hucksters and whores. It is a place anyone can enter, anonymously or not, and for free. Travel at your own risk! But anyone who wishes can decide to leave this bazaar for the security of the bank or the government office—or, if you have enough money, the limousine, the Sky Club, the platinum concierge. You will always have to give something up. If you want utter and absolute privacy, you will have to pay for it—or know the right people, who will give you access to their hidden darknets. For some services, you may decide to trade your privacy and anonymity for security. Depending on circumstance and desire, people will range among these worlds.

JC comments:  I found this article to be fascinating, and it triggered some insights re the climate blogosphere.  Our little slice of the internet is rife with hackers, anonymous characters, and a classic battle between control and chaos. Although in this context, the Smartian version CONTROL and KAOS often seems more apt :)  The internet is enabling a substantial challenge to control of the climate dialogue by the IPCC and its defenders.  I will seek to position Climate Etc. as an agent of controlled chaos.

68 responses to “The Internet: World War 3.0 (?)

  1. Looking toward a year-end negotiation in Dubai, where 193 nations will gather to revise a U.N. treaty concerning the Internet, Michael Joseph Gross lays out the stakes in a conflict that could split the virtual world as we know it.
    […]
    The system is now approaching a state of crisis on four main fronts.

    Oh, no! Not another crisis that the UN is going to “solve”. Please, please, please can we keep the UN out of this one?!

    Mind you, I can well imagine that the powers that be at the UNEP and IPCC will be rooting for greater control [she says, somewhat skeptically!]

    Nonetheless, my vote goes to Climate Etc “as an agent of controlled chaos” ;-)

  2. My preference would be chaotic control – closer to anarchy

  3. Thank you, Professor Curry, for grasping that Climategate is but the visible tip of a cancerous growth designed to subjugate citizens to tyranny.

  4. You wrote:
    I will seek to position Climate Etc. as an agent of controlled chaos.

    I do support your success. Let me know if there is a way I can help more.
    I get to spread my Theory. I get to read the Theories of many other people. We get to criticize or compliment others and their theories. Many, many people read this and possibly change their opinions about some important issues. There is postings and links to a huge amount of knowledge and data and more. If this CO2 issue gets resolved, Climate Etc is most likely a major reason.
    We are trying to do our part, but generally, not many people know what we are doing.
    Our Letter to Bolden is an exception. That is getting a lot of notice.
    I do think the attention this letter is getting will make a difference.
    If not, we are not done yet.

    • Thanks! You and your colleagues are heros.

      Ancient advice for battle: “Having made yourself alike in pain and
      pleasure, profit and loss, victory and defeat, engage in this great war and
      you will be freed from sin.”

      That is the technique employed by Gandhi and Martin Luther King!

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/

  5. Everyone understands how bad GCMs are when they realize that increases in atmospheric CO2 follows global warming it does not precede it. Further study shows that having an appreciation for the holistic process involved in global warming leads to the inescapable conclusion that we simply can’t model climate change except in the most abstract of ways such as by using the mathematics of chaos.

    We don’t know all of the parameters involved in climate change. Even if we did and knew precisely how they were all related there is not enough computing power on Earth capable of resolving a model that included all of this information.

    The only thing important to the Left and an out-of-control government that is no longer responsive to the people or even to natural law is maintaining political power. In the end, controlling the dissimination of information, hiding and corrupting information, losing data and manipulating the language is what liberal utopianism leads to: liberal fascism.

  6. Interesting. History buff Dan Carlin just did a podcast on this topic recently. His focus was a little different. He was relating the evolution of the internet and the borderless internet community to the existence of the nation states and the continued evolution of the basic terrorist organization. Those organizations are moving away from the cell structure that planned and pulled off 9/11, and becoming more of an individualistic threat. The nation states, even the free ones, are scared out of their collective minds! The internet thwarts the ability to control information, especially info that can be damaging to the nation state. This causes the type of reaction we saw recently in France where Sarkozy supported a measure that would have made it a crime to even view a site that had radical Islamic propaganda on it.

    You might be thinking this is an isolated incidence, but i stumbled upon something today that gave me pause. The US is apparently already quietly moving in that direction too! (story is here http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.truthdig.com%2Freport%2Fitem%2Ffirst_they_come_for_the_muslims_20120416%2F%3Fln&h=eAQFvYx5QAQHGRehfgK9gn9R4weENugKIic9qpH8HGlPdCg)

    Now, sometimes Hegdes goes a bit overboard, I this sounds about right to me. The radicals in climate science are in the same boat as the typical nation state. And seeing that they dominate a fiefdom of their own, the UN and the IPCC, they are acting in the same manner as many nation states. “We must silence any dissent!”..

  7. “The Net has given more individuals more power in a shorter period of time than any new technology in history”

    The inventing of movable type had a bigger effect. The written word was spread horizontially, the biggest impacts were in self help books (How to Farm), translation of the Bible and other religous works (which weaked the power of the Church) and political pamphlets which caused all manner of revolutions.
    Guttengurg gave us the modern West, audio cassets gave Iran its 1979 revolution and social media gave rise to the Arab spring.
    Only people who like to control information are getting upset.

    • Given that the effects you describe took hundreds of years they do not contradict the quoted claim, which concerns about 50 years, especially the last 20. Note too that there are vastly more people involved today, another point in favor of the quote, which specifies more individuals.

      • David, there is a huge difference between the asymmetric power wielded in Europe 600 years ago over the subjects and the power of citizens against the state now. The knowledge base of the masses was also a hell of a lot shallower pre-Guttenburg than pre-1980.
        I was taught photosynthesis by an Aussie who got his education 5-18 via the outback radio. The Australians want their children educated, that many states don’t is a matter of political will and not technology.
        The sort of information the internet is good at is to allow people to know things that the rich and powerful do not want people to know. This applies to states like Iran who wish to keep the population in the dark, and in the case of the UK where the libel laws protect those with lawyers. The internet is very good for asking simple questions you only meet once, as in
        “How much should I pay for my mothers coffin?”, as in is $6,000 a rip-off or a bargain. As most of us don’t know how much to pay for a coffin, the internet is very useful.
        One of the major problems is the ‘Boston Massacre’ and “The Redcoats are coming’ problem.
        In the first place there was no Boston massacre in actuality, but the meme of British soldiers quite deliberately murdering colonists was spread by pamphleteers. In the second, no colonist ever called the British soldiers ‘The Redcoats’, this is just a piece of coy rewriting of history.
        Invented massacres, invented quotes, invented histories, conspiracies and much that is plainly wrong is found on the internet.
        Is it better to be uneducated or ill-educated?

  8. “The written word was spread horizontially, the biggest impacts were in self help books (How to Farm), translation of the Bible and other religous works (which weaked the power of the Church) and political pamphlets which caused all manner of revolutions.
    Guttengurg gave us the modern West, audio cassets gave Iran its 1979 revolution and social media gave rise to the Arab spring.
    Only people who like to control information are getting upset.”

    Doc, nice way to put it.

  9. Judith

    Personally I see the internet as having the potential to sow the seeds of the destruction of advanced civilisations, and as such it is a far greater threat than Co2.

    Alarmism? Yes, but it is clear that the internet and computers have become synonomous-nothing can happen without being linked into the internet , whether it is making a payment, getting petrol, food distribution. job processes, waste and water supplies and so on ad infinitum, with everything reliant on the internet working, computers operating correctly and electricity being available to keep the whole going.

    The trouble is that the likelihood of severe disruption through natural causes-a Carrington event-or human action-deliberate hacking/espionage- increases daily, and our ability to stop hostile or natural actions causing a domino effect through our complex interlinked technology is at present piece meal and wholly inadequate.

    Forget Co2-its a side show compared to the havoc that would be caused by rapid technological collapse. We need some serious funding and rapid action in order to protect the electronic infrastructure of advanced nations
    tonyb

    • Latimer Alder

      @climatereason/tony b

      It is worth noting that one of the design goals of the internet’s predecessors was that it should NOT be vulnerable to single points of failure…eg from a nuclear strike taking out a network node. These were the days of the Cold War when such an event was seen as the major threat.

      From that requirement came many technological advances in networking and messaging. Which means that a terrorist can’t just go and blow somewhere up and kaboom..the internet is dead. It don’t work like that. Nether would ‘natural causes’ unless so widespread that they affetced life so badly that the internet would be pretty low down our list of things to worry about – after breathing, drinking, and eating.

      But espionage/hacking/software is indeed a threat that we must guard against.

  10. And science marches on.
    tip-tock-tip-tock…
    Responsibility.
    Get going, please.

    • ‘O’, “We need some serious funding and rapid action in order to protect the electronic infrastructure of advanced nations”
      Today everybody is calling the FED, the line may be busy.

  11. Being involved with the Internet for almost 25 years, I *always* saw it as an instrument of incipient chaos, at least so far as monoliths (take your pick which) were concerned. Once it left DARPA that was the entire point.

  12. stevefitzpatrick

    “controlled chaos”.

    Not sure that exists, or can. But you are right about the fight over loss of control. There are lots of people and organizations that want to apply a wide range of controls to the internet, from restricted access to political information to copyright controls to government wiretaps on all net traffic. The smart policy is to assume nothing you put on the internet is going to remain private for long.

  13. @climatereason at 7:03 pm said “The trouble is that the likelihood of severe disruption through natural causes-a Carrington event-or human action-… increases daily”

    Yeah well an asteroid strike might also be a very bad day, putting CO2 down there with a broken shoelace kind of event.

    And I wonder if the UN thugs, autocrats, and rent-seekers will be begging for more Internet at Western expense, or less Internet to silence their dissatisfied subjects. Probably both.

    • Garry and climate reason, speaking of astroid strikes, another ex NASA astronaut Dr Edward Lu founded an astroid strike avoidance foundation. He shows a video of just how many big objects cross our orbit each year. Chances of a civilization destroying collission are about 1 in 10,000 he estimates. A 10Km astroid estimated to hit earth every 50-100 years. Tungusto in Siberia was hit in 1908. About the same risk as any one person being in a fatal auto accident in the US every year. He gave a Bery interesting presentation. Does put the CO2 issue into the broken shoelace kind of event. No UN or US gov involvement because preparing for this does not lead to the kind of economic controls and profits desired. Just some fun facts. Scott

      • Sorry, that was 60 m not 10 Km every 50 100 years. The big 10 Km is estimated every 100 million years. The estimate is 1 in 50,000. So back to the same order as CO2 shoelace problems. Still, 60 m impacts have roughly 10 megatons of energy. It is the B-612 foundation if anyone cares. Scott

  14. “I will seek to position Climate Etc. as an agent of controlled chaos.”
    Since this is the natural state of the physical and social world, sounds like a good strategy.

  15. The ineternet is a highly automated very fast postal service. It should be no more controlled for conten than the legacy mail systems.

  16. Yes, internet is our modern Gutenberg and as such will always be under attack by the power freaks. In the Conservation / Anthropene thread i referred to the coalition of the Australian Labor Party and left minority Greens commissioning a Report into Media Regulation. The Report, advocating media become more accountable recommends Government increased power to impose new standards and draconian controls. There is to be no right of appeal and jurisdiction extends into any internet site… sounds like good ol’ Animal Farm!

  17. peterdavies252

    Controlled chaos Judith? Knowing what we do about chaos only one thing remains constant and that’s unpredictability. I rather believe that blog sites such as Climate Etc will be sounding boards for people seeking to find appropriate responses to changing paradigms in climate science and human ecology but there seems little scope for any control.

  18. Very interesting post, and it will be most interesting as well to see what comes from the Dubai conference. Being a fan of the concept of controlled Chaos myself, the best we might hope for toward the goal of controlled Chaos would be a partitioning or domain zonal system whereby, there are areas that are more open and unrestrcted, and you can choose to go there, but then to go back to “civilized domains” you need to pass through very strong security so to speak, and have your system and files thoroughly checked for whatever you may have picked up in that domain. We certainly want to keep the internet free and open so that there can be a free exchange of ideas, but certainly the dangers of the bad guys taking advantage of that are obviously enormous. Organzied Chaos is the best approach…but getting there, and not letting current Nation States have too much (or too little power) is the trick.

    I also agree with Tony’s comments about the dangers of a huge meltdown and resulting very disruptiive chaos that could result from some kind of natural or man-made attack on the internet. One the the most important things that all of us should be lobbying our leaders for is the rapid development of redudant backups with an electrical Smart Grid infrastructure. It is just a matter of time before some kind of event occurs, and we can minimize the damages and disruptions by doing the smart and relatively easy things now.

    • Arcs_n_Sparks

      This is actually why the smart grid is a bad idea. The Chinese cannot easily attack the dumb grid we have today.

    • But, but, but….

      …. that will mean I have to do all my web surfing at home and can’t waste time at work.

  19. Maxwell Smart and his sole phone; connecting to headquarters and defeating the geniuses of KAOS by confusing them with Babel.

    The Internet transcends geographic boundaries and provides that common language. “They are one people and one language, and nothing will be withholden from them which purpose to do.” Even God was afraid of a united humanity with a common language; hence the smack down with confounded speech. We have been misunderstanding one another until recently when we moved to a universal language: English. Thanks to the Brits where the Sun never set on the British Empire, the English language has gained the international language mantel.

    What has happened since the end of the 19th Century when French, a language of the Salon; English, a language of commerce and German a language of science and mathematics? The Salon morphed into the Cafe of greater participants; the pounds and pence have morphed into dollars and cents; and the Germans almost annihilated an important creative class, the language dying with the loss of important groups.

    Today we have a new mode, the Internet; a unifying language, English; and an explosion of participants who bring their creative nuances for worldly inspection. As a globe, we know more than we have ever known before; we have learned more faster and more deeply than at any time in history; and we are more connected with one another as if in a tribal compound at night.

    And, as in a tribe, there have to be rules and enforcers of those rules as we don’t self regulate very well on our own. We tend to let our emotions get the better of us. I applaud groups setting down, working out the rules and how to enforce them, cognizant that these rules are always temporary, to be cast aside and contracts re-written. Vigilance is required by participants to identify when one group is beginning to hold sway, and raising an internet ruckus.

    Kind of reminds me of the recent climate science tribe holding sway only to be outed for their power grab and they crying: “Hold ‘nough!”

    • peterdavies252

      Fully agree that rules are necessary because without them the ether can be messy and petty minded.

    • ,,,”Even God was afraid of a united humanity…”

      Have you read the Bible? Pride does not scare God. It is false, He knows why.

      • Scientists from all over the world, still seem to have a problem with the ‘gravity’ of our human condition.Better days are coming, I am sure.

    • Re: “universal language: English”
      I ran across a suggestion that the spread of English had two drivers. One was the King James Bible. The other was Shakespeare’s plays.

      Both have important examples of the human condition, both positive and negative. “The proper study of Mankind is Man.” — Alexander Pope

  20. RiH008
    +1

  21. Arcs_n_Sparks

    This topic actually goes back to why the U.S. has a Constitution: the balance between anarchy and tyranny. If the internet geeks work it out correctly, the outcome will be the same. Rule of law, limited interference from government, individual liberty with associated responsibility. All with appropriate checks and balances.

  22. Paul Vaughan

    “I will seek to position Climate Etc. as an agent of controlled chaos.”

    Agent Climate: Are you sure it’s politically wise to tip your hand like that?

    If not, Good News:
    Sensible leaders may signal one way but find themselves efficiently guided by common sense into opportunistic harmony and effortless resonance with forces of nature.

    Translation:
    No cause for alarm. Just plenty of reason to know nature.

  23. A great post, Judith. I’ve been wondering and worrying about the future of the Net ever since I got seriously into it. As others say —tonyb especially — we depend now on regular, predictable electricity > computers > Internet for an astonishing amount of makes our civiisatin work.

    But, and like all here, I don’t want to see an agreement between the powerful that it’s time to control the network!

  24. For ‘civiisatin’, a nice word, but not what I wanted, read ‘civilisation’.

  25. Contrary to real life, I am all for a full chaos/ wild wild west kind of internet. It has been like that since the beguining and had proven to work remarkably well. Probably because, contrary to real life, only few permanent damage can be done (remote access to physical facilities or critical regulation system should not be part of internet, even if it is somewhat convenient, it is simply bad design. If it is really needed (and it is not often the case), full encryption is mandatory) and few coercion exists: people just move on if you annoy they too much.

    This is really the libertarian dream made true and makes me think a little bit of kaos in our modern oversecured/overregulated life would be welcome…

    Internet regulation is simply a money grab attempt by the physical or economical power in place – one that should be very strongly resisted. In fact, as soon as you hear a regulation that justifies itself by a “think of our children” or “terrorist threat”, be especially carefull: it is 98% sure to be a scam intended to extort money or remove liberties…probably both.

    • Latimer Alder

      +100

      Studies show that ‘Won’t anybody think of the children’ is a 98% certain marker of a shyster. By contrast ‘Terrorist Threat’ only scores 95%.

      Statistics are not recorded for ‘Trust Me. I’m a Climate Scientist’, but I feel that they would be ‘substantially non-zero’.

      • I know the first thing I think of when someone mentions “Think of the children” is to check that my wallet is still where I last left it.

  26. A useful recent book on internet security from a national security perspective is Brenner, America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare (Penguin Press 2011). Brenner was the inspector general of the National Security Agency, then the head of counterintelligence for the Director of National Intelligence.

  27. Judith,

    Could you just rely on the media that they are totally unbiased in their reporting?
    Where would you be able to get your information that has not been “adjusted”?
    If you were keeping tabs on Australia, their government did quite a media consensus and influence to push their agenda on the carbon tax.

  28. John another

    I find it interesting that so many of team and their online megaphone minions are software and computer engineers.

  29. This is more or less the topic that I plan to spend the next few years working on (and we’ll see if climate change ties into it at any point – right now I’m focused on copyright).
    I like the article because it tries to address precisely what got me interested in this field – the conflicts and regulatory efforts targeting the internet over the past several years have been profound, and the outcome of these “wars” could have a lasting effect on a medium that becomes more important with each passing year. There is a separate issue (what the article is trying to get at by contrasting “chaos” and “order”) about the extent to which the internet actually can be controlled and governed, but the scholars in this field basically agree that recent developments demonstrate the internet is very vulnerable to control (by sovereign states and some increasingly dominant corporations) in ways that 1990s-era “cyber-utopianists” overlooked.

    Jonathan Zittrain’s latest book is a good read that discusses this order/chaos problem in terms of “generativity” – trying to find a way that preserves the dynamic, user-involved creative aspects that made the internet technologies so great (think open-source, Linux, wikipedia) in a world with increasingly-ossifying regulatory structures.
    For the question of whether the internet is somehow different from other telecom technologies that also passed through an early phase of being largely unregulated, see Tim Wu’s The Master Switch.
    Evgeny Morozov and Rebecca Mackinnon both have recent books about how the internet has been quite compatible with forms of authoritarian control.
    Finally Ronald Deibert and reserachers at ONI have a series of publications tracking various government internet-control and surveillance efforts (http://access.opennet.net/)

  30. Let’s hope we can bring about a rebirth of respect for the scientific method, and the role of honor and ethics in ts application is appreciated. We all must work for new scientific consensus where government science authoritarians of a secular, socialist Education Industrial Complex are precluded from using public money and political power to ignore and hide natural laws and be prevented from acting like persecutors of Galileo: we all must demand that anti-capitalist government bureaucracies like the EPA will be prevented from undermining individual liberty and trying to use the global warming hoax and scare tactics in their attempt to replace the market-based economy with the superstition and dogma of the Left’s communist ideology.

  31. Judith wrote, “Although in this context, the Smartian version CONTROL and KAOS often seems more apt.”

    I was thinking exactly the same thing, then went off on a tangent. Could the two Climategates be malfunctions in the Cone of Silence?

  32. “One way to think about the War for the Internet is to cast it as a polar conflict: Order versus Disorder, Control versus Chaos.”

    That is one way to think about the conflict. But it is the wrong way. It paints a false dichotomy.

    The question is not one of order/disorder or control/chaos. The question is, as in so many policy issues, central planning versus free market.

    Disorder and chaos are terms used to describe the process by which millions of individuals organize their own affairs. Those who look so kindly on government control of the economy always describe their free market opponents as anarchists who want the chaos of no regulation.

    The comparison to the agora is apt. Those markets in the cities’ central squares were the petri dishes of capitalism. They existed, and thrived, because the powers that be were more interested in obtaining and controlling their own wealth and power. They did not realize, until centuries later, the power that came from free commerce. Today’s governments, from China to the progressives in the US and Europe, are not about to make that same mistake with respect to the internet. That is why they are trying so desperately to gain control over it.

    The governments of the world would be no better at controlling the internet than they are at controlling any other segment of the economy, and for the same reasons. Issues of security and property are being, and will be in the future, dealt with by those participating in the market. All the governments need to do is provide a forum for enforcement and dispute resolution, as in all other commercial activity.

    “…the forces of Organized Chaos, by and large, think that the Internet should be allowed to evolve on its own, the way human societies always have.”

    Unfortunately, most societies have not evolved on their own. Central planning has been the norm. Whether by emperors and kings, landed aristocracy, or a self selected elite based on “merit,” the most common form of government throughout history has been despotic. Monarchy, aristocracy, anhd the new “meritocracy” are all euphemisms for control of the people by a select few. The only difference is the manner of selection.

    The internet is a great threat to those who profit from keeping the masses ignorant, isolated, and at war with each other. (Just look at the climate debate.) That is why governments are such a threat to the internet.

  33. There’s something about the internet and computers, which drives people to write things like –

    “… Jeff Moss, a hacker of immense powers who has been trying to get Order and Disorder to talk to each other; Joshua Corman, a cyber-security analyst who spends his off-hours keeping tabs on the activities of hackers operating under the name of Anonymous; …”

    It’s nearly impossible to take seriously whatever else they’re saying. In point of fact, you can safely ignore it.

    Pointman

    • Paul Vaughan

      People like drama with their fiction Pointman. And some like it with 2 heaping tablespoons of unwavering cynicism.

      Muse — “Ruled By Secrecy” (-Live-)

      Powerfully conveyed message, whether real or fantasy. These artists drive even further for the sale by appearing genuinely fearful to even so much as mouth the core line of their song (“No one knows who’s in control” – conspicuously omitted twice).

      Where people can neither see nor understand the truth, dreams become the core of experience.

      Human understanding of climate is at the stage of exploration. The mistake so many have made is to imagine the current stage as science.

      • Paul

        A Muse man eh? They come from my home town and I watched their homecoming gig from the balcony of my home last year. Nice fans as well, but Muse sure do have a sense of drama.
        tonyb

      • Paul Vaughan

        “No his mind is not for rent
        …to any god or government.
        Always hopeful, yet discontent, he knows changes aren’t permanent.
        …but change is.”

        Rush — Tom Sawyer

      • “They will not control us …”

        Pointman

      • Paul Vaughan

        “2 steps ahead and staying on guard
        They never thought you’d make it this far
        You’ve got somethin’ they don’t
        Keep your feet ready, heartbeat steady
        Keep your aim locked, the night goes dark…”

        — Taylor Swift – Eyes Open

        …including the 3rd one Pointman.

      • Too cussed to go away, too stubborn to give up.

        Pointman

  34. Never used the internet and never plan to.

  35. “Look, yer ignorant swill, ‘( Plato speaking,) ‘yer just don’t understand those shadows on the cave wall, the damned flux!. Yer not up to it, only we (he means himself,) ‘can interpret the reality behind the flux, jest leave it to us.’.. (Thinks)… hmm, now about some controls over the internet …

  36. As it’s current, and mentions WordPress.. and is still a better example of graphing than some, even though it’s a cartoon:

    http://xkcd.com/1043/

  37. Hmm, the virtual reality cartoon is amusing, especially the windmills and Don Quixote episode. Oops, I forgot, I don’t read th…….. LOL

  38. SOPA, PIPA and the Memory Hole. Bureaucracies do not care for weidersprechen. Self-interested bureaucracies do not learn and can be deadly: review the Columbia and Challenger disasters.

  39. You are truly a just right webmaster. The site loading speed is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a excellent task in this matter!

  40. Vukcevic created a graphic illustration of
    Maya (illusion) versus Reality (facts).
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/IPCC-GT1995-2011.htm

    Of course, Reality will win the contest !

    The Democratic donkey representing Maya could as well be shown by the Republican elephant.

    Integrity will be restored to government science and sanity restored to society when both creatures go over the rapidly approaching Fiscal Cliff – Reality, again.

    http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-1883

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

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