The Future of the Internet, Web 3.0, and the Human Web

In order to tell some “socially unacceptable” truths about the world I had to step away from the tech and telecoms industry. You can’t expose crime and corruption in Big Tech and Fake News while the same ecosystem pays your consulting bills. The world just doesn’t work that way.

The work I did in the past remains valid, however, and increasingly relevant to today’s situation. In this interview with Robert David Steele I propose a good future for the Internet, but only if we “up our game” for the oncoming world of pervasive sensory data.

The vision I offer is necessarily an incomplete one, as I am just one man with a laptop. For example, it leaves out everything to do with quantum technology or produced in black budget projects. That said, it is grounded in 30 years of personal and professional experience, including working for Oracle and Sprint; co-running the Hypervoice Consortium; as well as being on the advisory board for EU-funded research projects.

The Internet we have is essentially the first generation of packet networking, based on what was politically expedient in the 1970s. It is very primitive; think steam trains vs maglev transport. It has surprisingly weak science and engineering foundations.

The problem with today’s Internet is that it is suited for a world of symbolic data processing. It is locked into a control paradigm that is unconsciously psychopathic. Our conceptualisation of computing leaves the human as an afterthought; “everything is a database record” — no matter what the data source or use.

Yet we are moving from a (symbol-driven) hypertext world to a (sensor-driven) hypersense one. Think of augmented reality, fitness trackers, smart homes, implanted medical devices, and ubiquitous surveillance cameras. Today’s issues of voice recording privacy and social media censorship are harbingers of much worse problems to come — as we cannot so easily separate our bodily selves from our data. Those who control the data control us.

Intimate biosensed data is unavoidably the next wave of computing, and this is a paradigm change, both ethical and practical. Our present paradigm leads us to transhumanism, which I believe is an existential threat; AI and “smartness” will enslave humanity as we lose control over our identity (e.g. vaccine ID nano chips, avatars owned by corporations).

Simply objecting to this trend is not enough. We need to offer an alternative and more compelling vision. I see this as “superhumanism”, founded on a nurture and nature paradigm, drawing inspiration from adaptogens and biomimicry. Its purpose is to give humans superpowers of empathy, compassion, and conscience, and incorporates learnings of groups like the disabled or gamers.

Superhumanism complements artificial intelligence (AI) with identity augmentation (IA). This rebalances the power between the individual and those who access sensory data on that individual using AI. It puts the human back at the centre of our vision; we are not just peripherals to be data harvested for AI.

If we solve our privacy and identity issues for the hypersense world we will get the hypertext (i.e. Web) and hypermessaging (i.e. social media) solutions for “free”.

To deliver superhumanism we need control over our data, i.e. self-sovereign identity. But this is not sufficient. We also need to automate decisions over how this data is used, and in whose interest, as we cannot have “cookie fatigue” take over our online and offline lives. This requirement forms the demand for a next-generation “browser” for the hypersense environment — the Guardian Avatar.

The Guardian Avatar is a model of “me” that makes low-level choices on my behalf and protects my personal interest. What a motor does for the human muscle, this does for the (individual and collective) conscience. We can deal with demands that otherwise would be beyond our mortal power.

To deliver this securely and at scale we need to move beyond the present Internet. It is a bit like going from MS-DOS to Windows. We can still use today’s legacy Internet, but in a “compatibility box”. A new enabling architecture is needed, and RINA (Recursive InterNet Architecture) fits the bill, since it solves a number of basic computer science problems.

You can think of TCP/IP as solving the “cardboard box” problem for data, and RINA as supplying the “shipping container” solution. There’s nothing wrong with cardboard boxes, but they aren’t the whole answer. As a byproduct of collapsing complexity RINA also improves security, which is a profound challenge as we are in a cyberwar right now with China and others.

There are some technical and regulatory issues that also need to be addressed:

  • New enabling science and mathematics of performance — ∆Q algebra as the “statistical unit” of supply and demand.
  • Redo the regulatory environment (“says what it does, does what it says”) — not “neutrality”.
  • Rethink of copyright as “reward obligation”; use game theory to solve the problem instead of the current blunt instrument of making computers “not copy” (which goes against their nature).
  • Double-entry data keeping as the accounting system for “data liability”, and an “information fungus” to make data decay — and the liability disappear over time.

Critical to success is a shift to “open source everything” — transparency over secrecy, sousveillance over surveillance, and identity protection over identity harvesting. As such, we are entering into a new post Big-Tech world, with new people, platforms, and products.

The Guardian Avatar vision, taken to its logical conclusion, can deliver on the promise of “hyperwellbeing” — like a “satnav for life” that helps us to skirt around the “pits” of suffering, and instead ascend the “peaks” of joyful experience.