In this month’s ‘Topic of the Month’ we have Internet pioneer Danny Hillis arguing that the Internet wasn’t designed for the current scale of use, and so he is putting out a call for a Plan B to be developed. That is, a parallel system to fall back on should – or when!? – the Internet crashes. The question for debate, however, is if the Internet is likely to crash? Yet whether it crashes or not, there are certainly degrees of instability that are now entering the functioning and capacity of the Internet. Hillis is certainly right in one respect: the Internet was not developed with its current scale in mind
One of the major developments in the news regarding the Internet is the now almost prolific rise of cyber-terrorism; or cyber-activism. Whereas before this was mainly kept within large-scale governmental and industrial espionage, it has now arrived as a form of activism and cultural/political protest. We saw this recently in the episode of the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures for its film ‘The Interview’. The cyber-attack was allegedly from, or on behalf of, the North Korean regime for the film’s depiction of the assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un. So the question that now may be asked is whether the Internet can maintain and/or sustain itself in its present form? It may, by necessity, have to change in order to adapt to a different environment of use. So – do we need a Plan B? And what would a Plan B entail?
We also have to remember that the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is on the horizon and is likely to be a game-changer in the structure and use of the Internet. With everything connected – all our household and everyday items – will this make the Internet more vulnerable, or more open/inviting for cyber-activism and/or attack?
Danny Hillis may not need to be correct in his assessment that the Internet could crash; yet he is certainly right in pointing out that we need to have other plans for the safety and security of the Internet for the future. Thoughts anyone?