Inventing a New Internet
Inventing a New Internet: Learning from Icarus
An invitation to rethink the Second Curve Internet
Authored by Mike Liebhold, IFTF Distinguished Fellow
In Greek Mythology, Icarus was able to fly on wings made of wax and feathers, but he flew too close to the sun, which melted the wax, and he fell into the sea. From a future historical perspective, will see ourselves as descendants of Icarus? Is our Internet like Icarus’ wings? Are our ciphers and codes brilliant capabilities built on immature engineering like wax and feathers, capable of taking us to great heights, but systematically flawed? For a brief historical moment, humanity has flown high like Icarus, on a vulnerable first-generation Internet platform for securing and using distributed ideas, arts, media, science, commerce, and machines—promising brilliant futures such as a network of things, autonomous personalized services, and immersive media. But now our first-generation Internet, built on a fragile global network of vulnerable codes, is failing, like the wings of Icarus, from too close an encounter with a triple shock:
- A massive dotcom data stalker economy built on mining of terabytes personal data
- Ubiquitous criminal penetration of financial and identity networks, both on our devices and in the cloud
- Pervasive state intruders at all levels and at every encrypted hardware and software node
Humans eventually surpassed Icarus, learning to build more durable aircraft. Similarly, humans must learn to build a more reliable private and secure Internet for communications, creation, and commerce.
This is the focus of a project led at IFTF by Distinguished Fellow Mike Liebhold, in collaboration with a group of thought leaders that include, among others, Dewayne Hendricks, Tim Pozar, Jamais Cascio, and Lawrence Wilkinson. As one of ten projects that framed IFTF's 2014 Ten-Year Forecast, the project seeks to address four core questions:
- How prepared is the Internet to deliver future human benefit?
- What are the attributes of a more durable future internet?
- What are the existing assets that can be harnessed?
- What new assets, protocols, and policies need to be developed?