The first version of any new technology is very rarely fully successful.
It always takes a few ‘oops moments’, a few rethinks, and a couple of runs at it before the thing really begins to work like we thought it would.
Take this Internet thing, for example.
It clearly hasn’t helped us – the thing is obviously broken.
It should be the easiest thing in the world to allow people to communicate. What fundamental truth about how human communication works must we have completely overlooked?
Many of the great thinking and well-spoken men of history have, at one time or other, been reported to have said “That a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.”
Sadly, if one researches this assertion, you will find that none of the aforementioned great men actually said this.
And therein lies precisely the problem.
In the age before industry and technology, when fast was a horse, and man communicated by smushing inky marks on cheap paper, maybe a lie could only get half a planet’s worth of a lead before the truth was out of bed.
But give a lie a few million miles of fiber optic cables, allow it to propagate at just a snick under the theoretical speed of light, and something wholly unanticipated and completely appalling happens.
If the lie is out there first, it can go everywhere, be everywhere, be repeated 11 million times, and seem just as true as the actual truth.
When the Internet was created, the guiding principle was that it would allow all mankind to communicate as equals with each other, and that this unfettered access to and exchange of the truth would set people free. As a tool, allowing the truth to roam free at the speed of light would transform humanity.
What the technology’s creators didn’t consider was the possibility that the truth might not be the only type of information out on their network. The ur-geeks overlooked the ability of a lie to use the same power of the technology to be repeated, to be amplified, to become referenceable, institutionalized.
What was supposed to be the great democratization of truth backfired. The lie had been given exactly the same tools as the truth. People with reasons to lie were arguably more skilled at using those tools. And the tools actually allowed truth to be shouted down, drowned out.
Instead of setting people free, the technology became to new way to enslave them.
So that’s why this Internet thing just doesn’t work.
And like anything that doesn’t work, it’s time to go back to the design phase, then take tools in hand and fix what’s broken.
And what the second version of the Internet needs is VVP.
The Veracity Validation Protocol.
I recognize that this will represent a complete overhaul of the Internet’s architecture, but I don’t see how we can do anything else.
We’ll need to completely redesign the headers of the Internet Protocol, of course. VVP headers and status information will need to be accounted for.
Then, we’ll need to implement the back end infrastructure.
Think about them as if they were the DNS Servers of Truth.
We’ll need to design a schema for the validation – we’ll need some form of graduated whitelist which can compute reputation values for the original data source, and then also for the sources and speed of the repeaters of the original data. This service architecture is going to be required if you want to be able to distinguish between, two things that operate is disturbingly similar ways, like Botnets controlled by Russian Intelligence Operatives and say, the Democratic Socialist supporters of ‘Our Revolution’.
The tricky bit is that somebody needs to administer the entire structure – at root an organization of people with a dedication to the cause of truth and that cannot be corrupted – no easy thing. It is clearly not advisable for this administrator to be part of any government. Objective Facts need their own ICANN, their own Network Solutions, to manage the root Truth Servers. The same forces that today attempt to drown the truth with lies will attempt to subvert the operation of the VVP to game the system – to obtain false VVP values to allow their lies to be propagated.
Once successfully implemented, information with VVP values below a defined threshold can be flagged as suspect data. Data with still lower VVP values will be discarded, just like data packets are today with TTL values of 0.
Consider what such a technology can accomplish.
Consider the damage that lies and twisted truths have done to our country, our world and our civilization in the last few years.
“The government of Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”
“Immigrants are coming to assault your women and take your jobs.”
“Great Britain is stronger outside of the European Union.”
“Millions of people voted illegally in the last election.”
“Climate change is not real, it is a hoax.”
“The Russian Government did not try to influence the United States’ election, and we had nothing to do with them.”
Now imagine that any one of these false statements – and all of the amplification of those statements – had, when someone tried to use the Internet to communicate them, automatically received very low VVP values, and the network had sent all the packets comprising them to /dev/null.
What a different world that would be.
Imagine, then, that all of these falsehoods had just disappeared.
And those are just a small, representative sample of a much, much larger population of lies and misinformation. Objectively false information that causes adverse impacts on international relations, public policy, economy and health.
A world where objectively verifiable facts — the truth –are undermined, is a world where all human rights, where freedom, is impossible.
Internet V1.0 made the mistake of assuming that people were at root honorable, and that social norms would favor the truth and allow it to always prevail. The unanticipated result was that lies were able to share space with, and in the worst case, drown out the truth.
Internet v2.0 learns from this fundamental mistake. It has objective, technological mechanisms to identify information which is intended to deceive, and discards it.
Anybody know how to help me write a new Internet Request for Comment (RFC)?