Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rise of the Mesh

While I could harp for hours on the spying scandals, others cover that with far greater skill and depth than I am capable of. The economic consequences for the US result in foreign clients moving outside the spied upon American cloud to greener pastures elsewhere. In addition, technologies are evolving in a direction that is extremely difficult for centralized institutions to control. Automated manufacture, crypto-currencies, basement biochem labs, and solar power is only one aspect. Another is the very nature of the Internet and computer networks themselves. Project Meshnet project aims to create an open source, nearly impossible to shut down, censorship resistant alternatives to conventional internet service providers.

The basic premise is a P2P network built from scratch, easy to deploy with little overhead. Interestingly, Google has investigated the concept of using stratellites, balloons covering a region in wi-fi. Little overhead (no pun intended) is required, save a balloon and specialized wireless router. Their Loon project aims to bring internet to the Southern Hemisphere, recently launching from New Zealand. As one balloon leaves an area of coverage, another arrives. As patents expire and competitors appear, I imagine others will try the same (or a similar) strategy.

Such efforts would be difficult to accomplish, short of blasting the balloons out of the sky (which in itself is no mean technical feat). The primary technical battles of the coming century, I believe, will be the battle of decentralized, autonomous networks against the corrupted husks of nation-states (with rent-seeking kleptocrats behind them). In short, a fight between the T-1000 and Dracula. Already, criminal and non-state groups have deployed conventional communications infrastructure outside government control. Darknets already exist, and further revelations will only drive them on more.

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