Academic article on the Internet of the future

Some folks might like this recent article by Prof Britt Paris, on how to build values into the future Internet. If you click through to her website you can find a free copy of the piece.

Abstract:

“The Internet was conceptualized as a technology that would be capable of bringing about a better future, but recent literature in science and technology studies and adjacent fields provides numerous examples of how this pervasive sociotechnical system has been shaped and used to dystopic ends. This article examines different future imaginaries present in Future Internet Architecture (FIA) projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2006 to 2016, whose goal was to incorporate social values while building new protocols to replace Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol to transfer and route information across the ever-expanding Internet. I examine the findings from two of the NSF’s FIA projects—Mobility First (MF) and eXpressive Internet Architecture—to understand the projects’ trajectories and values directives through their funding cycle and their projections into the future. I discuss how project documentation and participant articulations fall into the following three distinct themes about past experience and speculation: understanding the public, negotiating resources, and carrying project values into the future. I conclude that if the future Internet is to promote positive sociotechnical relationships, its architects must recognize that complex social and political decisions pervade each step of technical work and do more to honor this fact.”

Keywords
future imaginaries, Future Internet Architectures, Values in Design, networking protocols, critical informatics

5 Likes

My view on the social aspects on internet is that when governmental institutions entered internet “for real” during the late 1990, marked an era where “authoritarian” views on life on internet became nasty.

It started (or at least manifested itself in Sweden) with the dismantling of “freedom of communication” when “The Pirate Bay” was hunted down by corporate and where the legal institutions failed miserably to protect those very fundamental “societal values” and handed over the front figures of The Pirate Bay over to the corporate-government-joint-venture. Where at least I believed, or hoped, Sweden to be a global front runner for “Freedom and social values on internet” - it turned out that that was wrong. The government, the foundations of our legal system was set out to dismantle a free internet. I’ve been around this for a long time and been involved in these issues both on a ngo level, political level and business level and I really don’t see a bright future for the development of an internet where fundamental societal values will be honored, protected or developed. The future of internet is much more likely to be a dystopian commercial channel with little or no room for privacy, free speech or anonymity. There is very little counterweight to this development, unfortunately.

You should assume that all your communication is monitored, your life is mapped, your opinions known, your movement tracked, your identity revealed and not only by your own nation/government/corporation - but globally.

Few people will know how to act on this future Internet, in a way that allows for limited basic freedom, which also will be risky in itself and cumbersome to achieve. It will eventually - most likely - be illegal to try to circumvent this massive authoritarian Internet. Things like encryption, anonymity and access to private and decentralised networks will be most likely be seen as an act of criminality. That is already in the process…

I wish I could be more optimistic. But there is very little evidence to support it…

2 Likes