I’ve known Dr. Vint Cerf since 1992, and it is with enormous regard for him personally — and the culture of sharing and shared decision-making that he and other Internet pioneers fostered — that I take note of Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) and the fact that it now makes possible the Internet of Things.
This article, scouted by Berto Jongman, merits a close reading:
What the article does not touch upon is in my view urgently in need of reflection, and that is the Internet of Open Costs and Open Source Everything.
The author, Dominic Basulto, writes:
When devices and sensors can be hooked up to the Internet, it means they can start sharing information: “Soon, companies will be able to perfectly match product demand to raw materials orders, streamlining supply chains and minimizing waste to an extraordinary degree. Efficiency goes through the roof.”
There is one truly severe flaw with that view. IPv6, if applied in this manner, will accelerate and deepen the existing manner in which we do business–one author calls this The Myth of Digital Democracy. We will, as Dr. Russell Ackoff put it, be doing the wrong thing righter. Absent transparency and truth, absent the full integration of Dr. Herman Daly’s pioneering specification of how “true cost” of anything must include water used, child labor used, environmental degradation impacts, toxins imparted to end users and unwitting bystanders, and so on, IPv6 will extend the information pathologies I have identified with the help of many others, and it will broaden the chasm between rich and poor, informed and ignorant.
What is required now is a conceptual architecture for IPv6 that demands that true costs be embedded in every thing. It is now possible to create digital identities for the same product coming from different locations during different points in the life cycle of the producing facilty. It is now possible for a product to “acquire” a complete history of its ingredients, storage, transport, handling, exposure to excessive water or sunlight or other “triggers.” In short, it is now possible to demand Open Everything, starting with Open Costs.
Lacking within what passes for dialog about global Internet governance are the ethics of IPv6. The core question we should be asking is how one imbues IPv6 with ethics so as to create an information ecology that holds all humans in any production process accountable for the true costs of what they are about. IPv6 is a newborn. It lacks ethics and it lacks a sense of integrity in the holistic sense of the word. Now is the time to have this discussion.