Opinion's Corner: How Technology Shapes Internet Principles

John Madayese was a Digital Grassroots Ambassador from Cohort 1 and now he is part of a team within the IGF Youth Ambassadors Program. The group is composed by Lilian Kamara, Francis Bizoza, Conrad Ekisa. and John Madayese.

 One of the topics they were more interested in was Internet Principles and the impact of technology in Internet. This is the article they produced for the said program.

How Technology Shapes Internet Principles

Tim Berners-Lee points out, “There was a time when people felt that the internet was another world, but now people realize it’s a tool that we use in this world.” Internet has become integrated into the lives of human, any human without an internet today looks like someone who is not living. The internet was built upon certain non-negotiable features upon which it takes its foundation. These are called invariants and include global reach, general purpose, innovation without requiring permission, accessibility, interoperability, collaboration, technology and non-existence of permanent favorites. Ever since the internet has existed, it has consistently maintained these invariants and would most likely continue to as they are unchangeable.

Apart from invariants, the internet depends upon a set of principles by which computers and networks can interact with each other. These principles are widely known as openness, access and end-to-end. They are the architectural principles upon which the internet is founded. As the internet society rightly points out, “not only do these principles remain as key operational principles, they must have evolved into principles that shape how stakeholders’ interface with, use and communicate across the internet.”

Technology is the infrastructural tool that supports a working internet and the principles of the internet are shaped by advances in computer sciences or technologies. The level of access and openness we had when the internet was still at 10 years is that which we have now. Advances in the infrastructure that we use to facilitate the internet have changed the beliefs about the internet.

The architecture of technologies is improving, and it determines how its networks operate. The design of the technology shapes how users interact with it. The Internet is at the very core of technology today with an ever-growing need for connectivity and accessibility. Over the years, we have seen the internet being shaped less by its initial design architecture i.e. TCP/IP and more along the lines of the eight Internet invariants. There are numerous new technological advancements today such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, big data, cloud, etc. and these technologies are now building upon each other.

Recently, Facebook launched “automatic alternative text”, a piece of software that describes photos for blind and partially sighted people who can’t automatically see them. Today, a refrigerator does more than just cool our vegetables, you can now have a sort of conversation with your refrigerator about how cold you want your vegetables to be, the principle of internet of things (IoT). Technology has also addressed the issue of access for marginalized communities and impaired persons through different ways, one example being the development of visualized data. This in a way contributes to global reach and accessibility by all.

Berners-Lee described 25 years after launching the first public website, that participatory power has made the internet an incredibly intimate reflection of interests, priorities, disagreements and values. The incredible mass of individual ideas shapes the collective experiences of all other users. There is an ever-growing push for ideas to advance greater accessibility, greater global reach, and greater technological reusability using the internet. Taking a quick look at the telecommunications and the evolution through 2G to the now 5G, we notice an ever-growing desire for capacity. The key driver to this capacity demand is the active desire to do more and go further and its evident that the internet is key to making this possible. As Samuel Clemens points out, “a human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.” It’s this unquenchable thirst that’s driving the technological innovation of self-driving cars, automated smart houses, etc. which use internet principles to work.

New technologies have made it possible for the internet to reach the unreachable and even make internet networks to be of more quality. The advancement in technological infrastructure form what level is it that the internet will be accessible and open for everyone, with the fundamental invariants in existence. The internet of things will for example bring about a breakthrough in the level at which the internet is shaped to help human solve problems.

Contributors: John Madayese, Lilian Kamara, Francis Bizoza and Conrad Ekisa
Image Source: ACS Data Users Group


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