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<nettime> Olivier Auber: Network symetry and net neutrality
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 24 Feb 2013 01:19:06 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Olivier Auber: Network symetry and net neutrality

Networks symmetry and Net Neutrality
by OlivierAuber

(watch it on YouTube WTFTalk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c0sX6j5D_c)

Help improving the english speech : http://lite.framapad.org/p/rAgoXE7W1x

As you may know,1/4 of the Amazon has been already deforested in order to
print reports about Net neutrality
Did we forget something? Maybe, yes !

Non tech people usualy imagine that the notion of "symmetry" in terms of
networks, is a synonym of "equality" of UP and DOWN streams at user's
level or "IN OUT" streams at the level of the peering points. But the
notion of "symmetry" goes much further. It it also,and mostly, a question
of protocols.

When Vinton Cerf, one of the godfathers of the internet, recently
appointed by President Obama to the National Science Board, asserts that
"Internet is symmetric?, No doubt that he is taking it seriously. Yes,
lnternet is POTENTIALLY symmetric, because it contains in itself all the
resources to become effectively symmetric and the big players have the
responsibility to implement it. If they do not, they should not complain
about the domination of Goggle and other data silos that do precisely
benefit the asymmetry of the net as it is in reality.

In fact, the Internet as people know it so far, essentially implements
asymmetrical protocols such as the well known http of the world wide web.
Theses asymmetrical protocols, called ?Unicast?, makes it necessary, when
you want to achieve an "all-to-all" interaction to establish somewhere a
special node which is responsible for the switch. According to the power
law, it is obviously the biggest node that wins, because it allows to
connect as many people as possible. In this game based on an asymmetrical
protocal, the winner takes all every time (Goggle, Facebook, Twitter,
etc.), which are, I would say, not social networks, but social silos), to
the point that, after a while, everybody is a prisonner.of these silos,
and nobody is interested to played anymore.

However, there are also symmetrical protocols on the Internet. One may
think about peer-to-peer protocols such as the ones used over mesh
networks, but more fundamentally, the general model of it is called
"Multicast", defined as a part of IPv6, which allows "all-to-all"
relationships without the intervention of any particular center, if it is
the Internet in its entirety. Unfortunately, these protocols, when they
are not fought by institutions (such as Peer-to-peer) are not (or little)
made available to the public by the I S P and Telcos, which keep them for
themselves so far. We understand why: the multicast protocol greatly saves
bandwidth by allowing a transmitter who wants to send a video to a million
receivers simultaneously, to emit it only once, then the routers
distributed on the network replicate it, according to the requests. This
is usualy how, we, simple users, receive the bullshits of the TV channels
at home, but you may have noticed that you can't emit anything that way,
because for us, the net is artificially made asymetric!

So, obviously, when some can use the net symmetrically, and others can
not, there is no netneutraliy

Remember what Van Jacobson, another internet guru, asserted in 1995 : "How
to kill the internet? Easy! Just invent the web !" Unfortunately, this is
more and more relevant! By not making these symmetrical protocols
available, many network players are condemned to play a game where they
lose every time (and users too). Indeed, as a recent skirmish between Free
a french I S P and Google denotes it, the profitability of network
carriers is much lower than the one of big nodes (Youtube, etc.) and other
huge data warehouses, that essentially asymmetrical protocols make them
absolutely necessary. Note also that all of us, simple users, we lose
also, because our personal data are drawn into bottomless pits over which
we have no control.

In short, in order to escape this depressive spiral which centralises all
the innovation and economic power in the hands of a few players, it would
require a day where users as well as operators and others, become aware
that another internet is possible: a symmetrical internet! (within the
meaning ofdata flow AND protocols)

Therefore, the Internet could be a little more "neutral" than it is now,
because it would anymore favor dominant positions automatically. The
future would cease to be written in advance. The innovation that seems to
be dry today outside from dominant silos, would revive! Finally the
Peer-to-peer spirit developed by the pioneers of the Internet could
finally reach adulthood and show its full utility. Thank you.

Any questions Yes, you, please!

What do you think of the projects of some governments to tax the platforms
like Google, on the basis of the personal data they hold on citizens?
I fear that it will lead to clear an other quarter of the Amazon
rainforest before they realizes that it is not a good idea. The intention
behind is good, and I would not want to overwhelm the authors of this
idea. But I have many reservations. The main one is an ethical issue. I
think in a world where there is more and more a sort of fusion between
ourselves and our data, trading such data will look more and more like
human trafficking! The taxation of these data can not do anything against
that. On the contrary, it would endorse the existence of this practice.
Another question? Yes
If I am right, the establishment of a symmetrical network, would
necessarily involve the legalization of the peer-to-peer sharing of
copyrighted files
A symmetrical network would facilitate the sharing of all types of files,
and the benefits would be huge for the culture and the economy. This does
not mean that sharing copyrighted files would be legal. The copyrighted
files represent only a drop in the ocean. Is the defense of this drop a
reason to stay in the stone age of networks

Another question? Yes!

According to you, how will we finance all this?

Thank you for asking this crucial question! Many researchers emphasize the
parallelism between the asymmetric shape of the web and the current
mechanism of money creation which is also asymmetrical.

How can we achieve a symmetrical network in those conditions?

If you want a symmetrical network, it is necessary to design it in such a
way that it generate itself a new form of currency which has to be also
symmetrical! Some people work on it! This may be the subject of one of my
upcoming keynotes.

What could be the triggering event of such a change?

The network has operated until now because there was a certain symmetry
between the "big fish" of the net. However, this symmetry is being broken.
There are essentially three options for them: 1: being eaten by the
biggest one. 2: find an agreement between them, including with the States,
to make a sort of triangular trade of our personal data, that is to say,
our identities! 3: Recreate the symmetry, not only among themselves, but
with us. The first two solutions are ultimately quite explosive, and I
weigh my words! Only the third is sustainable but nobody knows how to
achieve it. This is why we must be aware about that!

If I understand you correctly, the solutions 1 and 2 prevail currently. Do
you you think there some kind of conspiracy?

No, there is no conspiracy at all, just, dare I say, one of the greatest
mysteries of mankind. Indeed, as far as we look in our body, or in the
universe, there is no "center", no governing body of all others. The brain
which is often attributed this virtue, if it has functional areas, is not
built as a hierarchy ordered by any center. It is essentially a
symmetrical network. The mystery is to know why we, essentially
symmetrical human beings, are building essentially asymmetrical and
hierarchical social networks Nothing says that we must be structured as
hordes of primates or wolf packs, right? So it can change!

But in fact, Google offers us to become transhuman, even immortal!

You ask good questions. I've spotted you! The question is who would become
immortal? Is it the man? Or is it the idea that the man shapes about
himself? I mean the idea that some men who derive their power from the
asymmetry of the networks, form about all others. I'll return to this
point in a next keynote ...

Please, may I ask another question!

Thank you, but now I have a slight prostate problem. I must leave you! Ask
your questions on the social silo Twitter with the hashtag WTF talks. I'll
answer later with pleasure! See you soon!

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