Reflections on China & The Internet
It was my great privilege to be a co-founder with Winn Schwartau of the first Information Warfare Conference in the early 1990's. Winn, through his books and Congressional testimony did more than anyone else to warn us of both NSA's likekly malfeasance (see his 1980's book Terminal Compromise) and of the vulnerability of the Internet to melt-down if we did not address security at the code level.
It was also my privilege to serve on rotation to the CIA's Office of Information Technology where I led the effort to introduce advanced information technologies including artificial intelligence, from 1986-1988. When Bill Casey died this initiative died with him. We still do not have today the tri-fecta I called for back then: geospatial attributes for all data in all mediums and languages; open standards and embedded security to allow for the inter-operability of all information and communications technologies and related data; and finally — defined much more ably by Diane Webb and Dennis McCormick, eighteen integrated desktop analytic functionalities (look for CATALYST – Computer-Aided Tools for the Analysis of Science & Technology).
Beginning with a ghost-written article for General Al Gray, 1989 Al Gray (US) on Global Intelligence Challenges and then my own 1990 Intelligence in the 1990′s – Six Challenges and going on for the past 25 years with nine books and many other works, I have been focused on the basic challenge of connecting all human minds to all information in all languages all the time.
Today CIA and NSA and Microsoft and Google are equally worthless when it comes to the fundamentals. Let's start with the fact that all US communications and computing products and services have been compromised by the CEOs of the major corporations — Dell, Google, HP, and IBM particularly. This blatant breach of their fiduciary duty to their shareholders has not yet been tested in court — from where I sit, each of those CEOs and all associated officials should be fired and lose all retirement benefits.
Google has replaced Microsoft as the poster child for industrial-era misdirection — what Russell Ackoff would call doing the wrong things righter. Google's search “service” is criminally deficient — less than .005 (that’s point zero zero five) percent of the substantive web is indexed, and the search results are so biased by human and algorythmic corruption that even locksmiths are suing Google now for lack of due diligience.
Google has also failed to do anything tangible in the sense-making arena (what Howard Rhiengold called for in his 1980's book, Tools for Thought), but I do give a nod to Google Translate. In brief, Google sucks at multi-lingual multi-disciplinary sources; Google sucks at tools for sense-making, and Google sucks at geospatial visualization of non-geospatial data (Google Maps would not exist without Silicon Graphics and Keyhole Markup Language, they don't do all-source data).
So where does this leave China, which is about to have a conference in Wuzhen 19-21 November at which it may address some of the issues Forbes raised in a July article about “How China Becomes a Cyber Power?”? Forbes talks about infrastructure including network size and broadband penetration; a clear international strategy; independent technological capabilities; ability to defend networks; and competitiveness in the development of software applications, e-commerce, and online markets.
Forbes is missing at least two-thirds and perhaps four-fifths of the whole enchilada. There is nothing in the Forbes piece about affordability, interoperability, or scalability. There is nothing in the Forbes piece about data big or small, about substance, about sense-making. There is nothing in the Forbes piece about my current passion, the new tri-fecta, holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering.
So what about China and the Internet?
Let's start with acknowledging the absolute righteousness of Lu Wei's position about national sovereignty. Anyone who respects his position would not, under any circumstances, buy any product or service from a US, Japanese, or South Korean company. Offerings from France and Germany and of course Israel are equally suspect. The fact is that the entire industry has sold out to the “national security” mandarins — they have betrayed the public trust as well as the trust of their shareholders.
This gives China an opportunity to consider a clean-sheet fresh start in which it embraces open source software and open source hardware, along with open base transceiver station, open cloud, open data, and open spectrum. Set a new local to global standard that is affordable, inter-operable, and scalable across the Southern Hemisphere. Focus on empowering and then monetizing the brains of the five billion poor, making the new open source Chinese Internet the foundation for a new global academy, a new global economy, a new global form of hybrid governance, and a new global society in which the 1% can no longer enclose the commons and destroy community property — the Earth.
From where I sit, the West — less The Netherlands — has been criminally irresponsible in its handling of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) domains, and Western offerings must be considered corrupt, inefficient, and wasteful. From Amazon to Google to Microsoft to Oracle, all these industrial-era “because I say so” systems need to die.
In my view, the Internet is one third human, one third data, and one third processing. The West has demeaned the first, corrupted the second, and made a complete mess of the third. China has an opportunity in Wuzhen, in two weeks' time, to by-pass the West completely, and go directly to a 21st Century Internet that is designed to do holistic analytics; capture and exploit true cost economic information about all policies, products, behaviors, and services; and that is designed to change every core policy domain from agriculture to education to energy to health and housing to military, transport, and water, with open source everything engineering.
It is my hope that Wuzhen is not just a “show” conference, but that it will distinguish itself from the Western approach to the Internet by focusing on substance and by devising a strategy for making an open source everything engineering approach to the Internet — and to multidisciplinary multiagency multidiscipllinary multidomain information-sharing and sense-making (M4IS2) — the new local to global standard.