Greenfield Vision of Autonomous Internet

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Please add your ideas about autonomous internet here. "Greenfield" means that you are "wiping the slate clean" and trying to imagine a whole new system from the ground up. This is meant mostly as an exercise in imagining and visioning new alternatives. The practical reality is that most efforts will build on existing concepts and technologies. However, the goal of this page is to offer a space to think beyond those existing technologies.


A Whole-earth system

The Internet is a global network. It does not need to (and actually is hindered by) country borders and political divisions. It is simply infrastructure for the whole planet.

Thus, the domain system as a top-level navigation entity should disappear. Apart from the fact that it is not mandatory to be used (I can buy most domains in country top-level domains I am not living in), it simply is obsolete in a globalized environment.

Furthermore, the Internet then could be working as a single big system, instead of replicating functions and data silos across sites. Therefore, a service oriented architecture may be set up addressing the system as a whole, for example:

  • Directory services for finding information, people, organizations, groups, etc.
  • Accounting services for virtual/online currencies, etc.
  • Profiling services, authentication services, security services (certificates, etc.)
  • Rating services
  • Tagging services
  • many more

The Internet would run humanity as a single organization (like a 'multinational ' for all people); thus, bringing the collaborative / cooperative meme of our times to full fruition.--Fablife 14:22, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

A Plural Architecture

Plural hardware routes

A minimum of 3 satellites are required for global communications. More is better to prevent bottlenecks. Physical connections, wires, cables, are another layer in the system.

Plural addressing schemes

Nodes on the networks have multiple addresses.

Plural communication protocols

Nodes on the networks implement multiple communication protocols.

Plural software APIs

Software on the network will implement APIs for interoperability. Good APIs will provide mechanisms for automated discovery and communication.

Spam

In the current internet, at the IP level, every packet is unsolicited; a router can't tell the difference between a packet that is part of an email from your boss and a smurf reply intended to flood a victim off the internet. Consequently, distributed denial service of attacks are impossible to stop, and disrupt existing relationships.

Similarly, your mail server can't tell the difference between a Nigerian spam email and an email from your boss, so spam is a constant problem, and leads to the loss of legitimate email.

We can divide communications into three categories:

  • Continuing communications that are part of an existing relationship;
  • Introductions, where an entity establishes a new relationship between two entities with which it already has relationships (for example, a SIP server setting up a call, or forwarding an email from one of your contacts to another);
  • Unsolicited communications, where two previously unrelated entities establish a new relationship; for example, leaving a comment on a stranger's blog.

Unsolicited communications are a legitimate and important function of the internet. But any network that supports unsolicited communications will suffer from spam, and so there is no way to make unsolicited communications reliable in the presence of malicious actors who deliberately overload its capacity. However, it is possible for a network to prioritize continuing communications and introductions over unsolicited communications, reducing the damage done by spam.

MIXes

A significant class of risks in the current infrastructure stem from the unwarranted revelation of identity information. This can be used to retaliate against deviant behavior (e.g. homosexuality, journalism, copyright infringement, organizing protests to call for democracy, gambling, masturbation, or marital infidelity); to commit fraud using that identity information; to discriminate against classes of people, such as those who live outside the USA; to impede the use of the network, for example by denial-of-service attacks. (Impeding the use of the network may be a form of retaliation, but it is sometimes carried out for other reasons as well; consider Gaddafi's recent denial of telecommunications services to all Libyans, which was intended to prevent them from organizing protests, not to retaliate against them for having activist compatriots.)

MIX networks, such as the cypherpunks anonymous remailers and the TOR network, provide a way for people to communicate with each other without revealing identity information, and in particular without revealing their network locations. But MIX networks are currently subject to both technical and social limitations that stem from their non-ubiquity. Due to low and highly variable traffic, traffic analysis of current MIX networks could potentially reveal the identity information they are intended to conceal, and MIX node operators are sometimes subject to sanctions, such as being banned from editing Wikipedia or chatting on Freenode, or being raided by police in a few exceptional cases.

If MIXes were the standard infrastructure of a large network, they would be much less vulnerable to these problems.