The Internet originally evolved through multiple breakthroughs in technology and it provided cheap and abundant freedom of knowledge and information to billions of users thus furthermore spurring innovation and positive evolution of society.
However in recent years this form of Internet is now reaching its limits: Hate speech, fake news, polarizing content and unilateral acts of censorship (to name but a few) are cluttering the Information space and de facto causing an involution of mankind in the sense that information becomes more and more questionable, debatable, unreliable.
The Earth IS FLAT and the Earth IS ROUND, Trump WON the elections and Trump LOST the elections, Covid KILLS and Covid IS JUST A FLU and so on.
Mankind is therefore at a loss and blinded by too much, contradicting information and often unable to make properly informed decisions.
In this paper introduce a new concept of Internet capable of overcoming said limits and therefore become a much more reliable infrastructure of knowledge for all mankind.
Information and infrastructures
Let us start with the reader reading this line right now. You are most likely sitting in front of a computer screen or tablet, this computer is likely connected to the Internet so that you could download this paper to begin with.
All these things (you reading, the tablet, the Internet, PDF files and readers, etc) imply the concept of knowledge and information such as: Alphabet, language, digital information, battery, fiber cable, micro electronic, etc.
Also implied are material and metallurgy, diesel engines, civil infrastructure, sewage pumping station, a warm house, etc.
You might wonder, why is diesel engines and sewage pipes related to you and this article?
Of course you need a computer to read this, but you also need to be educated so to be able to read this, thus you must have gone through school. Also you must have been fed for decades, your material and biological needs taken care of so that you could be in front of this computer right now. All these needs have been (likely) satisfied by means of trucks delivering food to your grocery store, and this has been happening every day for decades through a distribution network encompassing farms, processing plants, road infrastructures and drivers and a multitude of educated people all specializing in one step of this long chain which ultimately kept you alive and educated you and ultimately brought you here now.
You see there are many moving parts to this process of you reading literally anything.
Some of these parts are related to information, and how to put things together and making things work on a theorical level. They belong to the domain of ideas, concepts, formulas and they are a light type medium.
Information can move quickly and easily at the speed of thought, or email, or hyperlink or sound through air and so on. We shall refer to this light medium as Information.
Other moving parts of this system are much heavier and harder to set in motion such as the asphalt making up the road through which the delivery van runs, or the steel making up the pillar of the building you live, or the CPUs, batteries, circuit boards making up your laptop. We shall refer to these “heavy” things as Infrastructures enabling people to do stuff easily, to rise above the state of hunter gatherer and live a much more sophisticated life.
Information and infrastructures are like feet: It is much easier to move around when you use them both!
Theory without application is sterile, making something without knowing how to build it is foolish and potentially dangerous.
Of course mankind through history had to do some baby steps of knowledge and had to learn new tricks out of experience and then passing them on to the next generations so that information, new discoveries and their infrastructure applications could cumulatively lead and evolve society to our modern sophistication.
If the information infrastructure is cluttered and defaced, not properly maintained and passed on within the body of society, then we can expect also the infrastructure side of society to decay and potentially even collapse with subsequent loss of human and environmental capital and subsequent incapability to access even basic infrastructural services such as food and water.
All these subsystems are keeping you alive and they require a vast amount of knowledge to be available to a great number of people capable of putting it all together and making it all work seamlessly.
This knowledge did not materialize itself overnight, it is the cumulative effort of entire generations passing down their knowledge and each one of them adding onto the previous one. Originally it was the oral tradition, eventually it became written tradition spread across many heavy books stored in few and far locations. This information or its relevant part was subsequently digitally transcribed and it is now quickly accessible pretty much everywhere in the world.
If this is true then we should be regarding and caring after valuable infrastructural information. We should make it simple, quick to access and maintain it up to date so to enhance the societal progress of mankind, same as we would maintain our house or our civil infrastructures to be able to keep the family of society functional and capable of progressing even more in the future.
Signal to noise ratio
Not all information is created equal, some information is valuable to society and worth copying over and teaching it to the next generations, it is a signal type information.
An example of this type of information: Maxwell equations.
At the opposite end of the spectrum we have distracting information which doesn’t enable mankind to move forward with new discoveries and progresses and on the contrary causes knowledge to devolve and it brings mankind backward to a more primitive state of functioning. This is what we call noise type information.
A practical example (trigger warning!): Flat Earth theories.
I am aware I am not making any friends here among the flat earthers, I am also aware of ongoing experiments to put satellites in orbits and take “true and non-photoshopped” pictures of the flat Earth from space. However even in this experiment the flat Earthers are relying in rocket scientists to put these cameras in orbit, and these rocket scientists are using spherical type gravitational equations to make the rocket fly in the right position.
Of course, it is also possible to derive all sorts of empirical or semi empirical non spherical equations to make rockets fly into orbit, same as it was possible to derive the orbits of all the planetary bodies of the solar system using the Earth as the fulcrum as opposed to Sun centric equations. These Earth centric formulas were so complicate when compared to the Sun formulas, that once the deduction was made no one ever wanted to go back to such an intractable mathematical formulation.
This last concept of mathematical simplicity and elegance of Nature is also called the Occam’s razor: If you have 2 theories both describing a phenomenon, but one is simpler and more elegant than the other then the simpler is more likely to be true in the sense of being capable of better predicting also other phenomena not yet deducted.
This is because humans like to save energy and time when calculating planetary orbits, but it also suggests Nature likes elegance.
The Internet of the future must value Signal type information above other kind of information, it must preserve it reliably, allow it to be accessed quickly and make sure it is preserved consistently.
The digital persona
Out there on the Internet there is also more informal, everyday type information such as private messages, public messages (posts, comments, links to third party content), which can be under our real name or under aliases.
The body of all this information is our digital persona, it is a very real projection of our psyche and most people value this the same as they value their own physical body.
Since humans have rights, we might derive that also our digital persona has rights, here is a first attempt to a chart of digital human rights:
1) The right to privacy and control what is private and what is publicly available information.
2) The right to freely publish content on line whether other people might like it or not.
3) The right to operate through aliases to protect people’s true identity when operating within oppressive or fascist regimes or well… just for the sake of privacy.
This digital persona and all its content could be hosted by third party servers such as FB, LI, Instagram, Google Drive, etc, or it could be stored within your private distributed digital vault as discussed in a previous project here.
This last solution implies the impossibility for third parties to cancel, manipulate and edit your content or how it is displayed or ranked on other people’s devices (ie censoring algos).
It also implies that the Blockchain Currency Software (BCS for short) now needs to grow a section for storing people digital treasure and it also need to have browsing capabilities to freely deliver content without the risk of interferences by third parties.
The issue with content moderation
As highlighted above, also personal content is full of junk, spacing from genuinely fake news, to “errors of mistake” as well as insulting, offensive or disturbing content.
Media giants once used to provide a white canvas upon which people could paint and write anything they liked, but as the content quality decayed over the years, they were forced to hire an army of content moderators reading and deciding what piece of information or posts are OK to keep and which ones ought to be deleted.
This shady side of the Internet business didn’t really get much attention until the de-platforming of millions of people for political or ideological reasons (remember the digital freedom of speech above or the 10th of May 1933?).
Of course people should not be exposed to fake news, disturbing content, political content if they choose so, which is why content on InfraNet should be moderated by its users, not by moderators with private agendas in mind.
Each content should therefore be “rateable” and the user should have the power to unsuscribe from what he doesn’t want to hear or see.
On the left side of a content window there is a LIKE bar we are all too familiar with, on the right side there could as well be a RATING bar where users can poll things like POLITICAL or FAKE NEWS, or ILLEGAL or SATIRICAL or PORNOGRAPHIC or DISRESPECTFUL or CONSPIRACY or TRUE or RELIGIOUS or a combination of the same.
As your private content gets more and more votes and rates, so your digital persona gets to be defined and perceived by other users on InfraNet.
As your digital persona rating goes up or down, likewise your posts might (or might not) be displayed in the news feeds of other Free Internet users who decide to set up filters for POLITICAL content or for FAKE NEWS content above certain rating scores.
Here is the seed idea of a self-moderating content system maintained by users as opposed to private corporations pushing (or deleting) their own agenda in front of users.
The issue remains with ILLEGAL type content (like pedo-pornography, or incitement to criminal acts and so on and forth). In all these cases then police and criminal investigations should follow and be left to the professionals of the justice department and law enforcement.
This kind content sieving by user rating also enforces echo chambers which are natural information structures since users choose to see what they like and avoid what they don’t.
It is ultimately up to the curious and intelligent user to seek out different sources of information and develop critical sense, it is an issue of educating people to their max intellectual potential, not something that can be mandated and enforced through social media engineering algorithms.
Freedom of speech and informational hygiene
The InfraNet described above relies on its users to self-moderate and rate the content and allows people to program which kind of content they want to be exposed to and which one they don’t want to see, but in general people are allowed to say anything they want including offensive, violent and disturbing content all the way to ILLEGAL type content which is convenient for the justice department to follow through (if only they could easily track out aliases!). This is freedom for each human to craft his or her own digital persona in accordance with their preferences and desires.
From a future historical perspective, it is noteworthy that the issue with content moderation is a big problem today but it won’t be so in the Internet of tomorrow.
Humans have just recently discovered the freedom of information and they are now gorging themselves mostly in the form of viral kitten videos and the likes.
When education levels are low, then all sorts of unsavory content can litter the blogsphere, but as education levels increase across the population and the craze for social media fades then content volume and the need for moderation will become less and less of an issue and most content will converge to an high level of TRUTH.
Distributing the data to distribute the risk against censorship
The one way identified by some to avoid censorship and deplatforming is to de facto distribute Internet data, web hosting, blockchain financial and personal data etc among all the users of the Free Internet. We previously proposed a 4 to 1 minimum ratio, meaning your personal data or content or web hosting is backed up in at least 4 other hard drive locations across the globe.
Of course the more data you produce associated to your account (ie videos) the more external user data you will be required to freely host within your own hard drives. Alternatively you can choose of course to host your own data within your personal server farm without having to back up other anonymized user data, but then the responsibility to maintain such data centre and its infrastructures will be on your dime.
Wikipedian branches and how-tos
In line with what was just said, InfraNet should preserve key technical and philosophical information within distributed data storage networks, somewhat similar to our Wikipedia whose editing is allowed as function of the editor digital rating and education level to avoid noise type information to corrupt fundamental information.
Again, peer review editing could be the key to continuously add meaningful information to the body of knowledge and reject junk type edits and defacing.
An interesting spin off could be the digitalization of “recipes” from how to build a house to a phone. These could be particularly useful in the age of mass space exploration where critical technical information must be made available swiftly and in its most simplified and efficient form.
Search algos and the other side of the Internet
An interesting story about Google’s success as a search engine was that in the early days its search algorithm was genuinely seeking the best possible answer to each query and distilling the webpage result where users would stop searching after reading that link.
As years went by, Google search algos eventually mutated and the answer to a question on Google returned Google itself (like contents on Youtube videos or other Google controlled entities and sites) or else return paid content results (like Amazon or Ebay).
This means that the user is not necessarily finding the best possible answer to a question, it is getting the answer other people are selling the user, therefore the answer is potentially biased and misleading or have apolitical agenda attached to it.
This is a minor sin if users have highly developed critical sense but in general the issue remains that computers should provide humans with the best possible answers and solutions, which are unbiased ones “at the best of mankind knowledge as of today”.
InfraNet should therefore incorporate a search engine associating the best possible answers to all user queries, not the ones pushed up by paying corporations.
This split between what is TRUE and a commercial form of the Internet is going to be a big and divisive discussion among tech companies.
Tech giants are good at innovating, finding new technologies and finally capitalizing on them. These breakthroughs eventually get copied over at virtually no development cost and are made available for free on InfraNet for the sake of benefitting all.
As we peer into the future we can imagine that the Commercial Internet will be good at aggregating information and packaging personalized news feeds and data streams within highly ergonomic or personalized interfaces.
It will be the domain of bloggers and influencers which will populate the Commercial Internet with narratives and social innovations.
One form of Internet is dry and very technical in nature, peer reviewed and rated at its core, the other type of Internet will be commercial and will strike the chord of people’s emotions and feelings.
Two types of information and infrastructures
So far, we have extensively discussed the importance of technical information supporting the infrastructures of our complex society, but we have neglected another fundamental type of information which we shall call theosophical information.
It encompasses subjects such as history, philosophy, religion, spirituality, it deals with the purpose of mankind and life in general, its destiny and ultimate goals.
In a nutshell: You might know how to do something, but do you know why you are doing it?
Likewise, whenever we build a heavy material infrastructure such as a bridge, or a skyscraper, it will be proven that the more beautiful and elegant this infrastructure looks like, the longer it is going to survive the test of time.
Using both technical and theosophical information in everyday activities and endeavors will lead to much greater purpose, prosperity and longevity.
In this post we have seen how information IS a fundamental infrastructure supporting the sophistication of modern society.
So far it has been the joint development of private entities, but the importance of such infrastructure now requires a re-thinking of how this system should work best in the interest of all.
Main points to be addressed on the next iteration of the Internet should include.
1) The association of our digital persona with our financial and social blockchain history thus subjected to basic privacy rules.
2) The preservation of key technical and anthroposophical information within blockchain secured data blocks available to all.
3) The use of unbiased non commercially oriented search algorithms living next to a commercially oriented Internet type
4) The need to have data and web hosting distributed among Internet users and home computers/servers as opposed to current private server farms to prevent the risk of any content being CANC’d for political reason.