In July of 2014 I wrote a blog post on this site, reporting the growing controversy and debate within the Internet community about the rise of a balkanized Internet, typified by the Chinese “Great Firewall.” Bill Gates and Vin Cerf argued that the Internet was too expansive and pervasive for government restrictions on the Internet to succeed. On the other side, Eric Schmidt and John Chamber of Cisco railed against the NSA metadata snooping as a contributing factor in the development of the “Splinternet,” that would severely harm American technology leadership.
After watching “The Great Hack” on Netflix I am appalled by the absence of any moral compass at Cambridge Analytica, which transformed Big Data into a political weapon. Other disturbing examples are Uber’s former corporate culture and Facebook’s collusion with CA in abusing our privacy. These cases are prima facie evidence of the crucial need and the opportunity to integrate the Humanities and ethics with deep technology development. I began my career as a Humanities graduate at Intel Corporation working closely with Ivy League MBA’s and senior engineers. We shared our knowledge and learned together to enable the company to excel. The best companies are those grounded in an appreciation of human values, companies that seek out Humanities graduates with a passion for technology to balance out their teams.
Years ago now Google quietly announced its “Loon Balloon Project” in New Zealand. The objective was to launch high altitude balloons that could potentially float over areas of the globe that did not yet have Internet access. The tech press predicted that the idea was “loony” indeed, though some called it “crazy cool.” Google has since also dabbled with the idea of low earth orbit satellites to achieve the same goal. With the rise of SpaceX, this seems an even more interesting technological approach, though other firms in the 1990s lost large amounts of money and failed. A modest aerospace company and a subsidiary of Airbus in Toulouse France is manufacturing low-orbit internet access satellites, hoping to launch as many as 650 such satellites. The idea that is captivating me is the potential for space-based Internet access to potentially provide an alternative to growing political and corporate control and Balkanization of the Internet.
IEEE Talk: Integrated Big Data, The Cloud, & Smart Mobile: Actually One Big Thing by David Mayes This IEEE […]
In the simplest terms, the concept here is how a company can potentially increase both revenue and market share by executing a strategy to work with direct or indirect competitor(s) to the benefit of both, a win-win. The old Arab saying, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” also applies. It can also be as simple as joining an ad hoc collaboration among a group of companies or a standards group to create market order and simplicity from an overcrowded and confused market. Customers invariably respond to products that provide the greatest value and paths to long-term increased value and cost reduction. Collaboration or “Co-opetition” is one of the most effective means to achieve that goal, particularly in an economic environment where “flat is the new up.”
With good intentions, and also a good dose of Facebook business strategy to expand its base of users, Mark Zuckerberg has struck out to promote Free Basics, a free limited Internet for the poor in less developed countries sponsored by Facebook and its local telecommunications partners. While on the face of it Free Basics would seem to have merit, Zuckerberg has run into a wall of opposition. On close inspection of the details, Facebook’s problem, despite all of its global corporate sophistication, appears to be naïveté about the foreign markets it is trying to enter. It is possible to argue that Zuckerberg and Facebook have the best of intentions and sound arguments. But the best of intentions and sound arguments mean nothing if the key element lacking is a clear understanding of the current foreign market, and the crucial need to adapt to it or fail. Zuckerberg could have looked no further back than 2013 for clues to why he has failed.
In an extraordinary turn of events, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission appears set to implement strong new rules, later this month to enforce Net Neutrality on the Internet. If the new rules are implemented, it will have major favorable implications for future global Internet policy with the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva, Switzerland. This means simply that all traffic on the Internet will be treated equally and fairly, which is one of the founding principles of the Internet, since its invention by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vin Cerf and others back in the 1980’s.
A local journal today glowingly reported that not one, but two local companies had won investment on the Dragon’s Den Canadian “reality” television show. What struck me about the two, apparently best “winning ideas” from our community, was how utterly mundane they were: an “empty beer bottle handling system” and “illuminated party clothing.” As an entrepreneur myself, I first need to give respect to the two entrepreneurs who achieved this success with the likes of Kevin O’Leary and the other investors. It is no mean feat and they should be acknowledged and congratulated for it. On the other hand, these are not the kind of ideas that are going to make a major dent in the local or Canadian economy. Meanwhile in Vancouver, two startups, D-Wave and General Fusion are working on Big Ideas that could change our lives.
It appears that Netflix move to enter into a peering agreement with Comcast, essentially paying Comcast for “preferred traffic capacity,” was strictly a tactical move, necessary to protect Netflix’ quality of service to their customers. As I predicted earlier, the recent Court decisions and Netflix’ fait accompli move, may well accelerate action by the FCC to insure Net Neutrality, and block a corporate takeover of the Net.
Yesterday, the United Stated Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. issued a ruling that was essentially a “technical” setback for the notion that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, better known as Net Neutrality. The ruling now permits giant corporations like Verizon, NBC/Comcast, and Time Warner to charge higher fees to content providers like Netflix, Amazon and even potentially, Google. If that sounds bad for consumers, you are right. This decision was essentially caused by an earlier decision of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to maintain a free and open “hands off” policy, and not regulate Internet traffic, considered evil by Internet purists. But the effect of this Court ruling may be greater evil, leading to the conclusion that “common carrier” regulation may be the lesser of two evils.