IPv6 as an Instrument of Freedom Amplification
On January 20, 2005, President George W. Bush was sworn
in for his second term, and gave a speech that sent shock waves around
the world, because many leaders could infer that it announced a crusade
against non-democracies. Since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Russia
are more or less allied with the US against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist
organizations, and China and Tibet are not free by American definitions,
not to mention Iran, North Korea, and a host of other nations, the speech
seemed to set the bar for Americas goal a world without un-free
countries well beyond the grasp of a nation that is running half
trillion dollar trade deficits and half trillion dollar federal budget
After this speech, the US seems faced with a difficult choice: either
spend hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars (that give no
return on investment) in an attempt to improve the lives of others that
might just get many of them killed, or dont spend the money or the
time, and fall short of the promised support, a globalized version of
the call on Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein that was met with
inadequate support and was crushed. I say seems because there
is a new approach that the Bush administration might take which could
help it meet its stated objectives (some of which I will quote below from
the speech transcript), while at the same time not running the same risks
as the Iraq war.
The new approach is to provide Internet-enabled communications devices
over the next five years to people who would not get them otherwise. If
the US is budgeting for the entire world what it is spending on Iraq plus
other aid programs and subsidies, it would have about $200 billion to
put towards helping other nations. I believe that an IPv6-enabled device
if designed to be produced for minimum cost and manufactured in
the billions could be made for as little as $20. At $20 each, with
$200 billion annually, the US could provide 10 billion devices a year.
This is more than the number of people on earth (about 6.3 billion), so
we could spend less, say $20 billion per year, and still give one billion
IPv6-enabled communicators (herein called v6 Communicators) out annually,
and by 2010 have every single human being have an Internet device.
Each device could allow the user to send and receive instant messages,
make Voice-over-IPv6 telephone calls, access websites, and buy and sell
his/her farm products, leatherwork, hides, carpets, or his/her time and
expertise. The devices could also provide translation. India has over
two dozen official languages, so these devices could increase intranational
trade there. About half of Indias 1.1 billion people are illiterate,
and the v6 Communicators could enable speech to text for them to communicate
with the literate, and could even teach their owners to read, and to learn
the language of specialized areas such as business, first aid and crop
yield enhancement. An eBay type system would do wonders for a handcraft
based economy, since the society doesnt have the usual brand or
retail store context to purchase within.
What would be the impact on the world of the US providing a billion v6
Communicators each year for four or five years? For one thing, there should
be tremendous gratitude from the people who have the devices and choose
to use them (plus a little gratitude from the people who choose to sell
them to meet their short term cash needs). As the devices reach more people,
though, the resale market will be less valuable and the network effects,
particularly in the local community and region that are not well served
by large Internet content companies, will raise the value to the end user
exponentially. Metcalfes Law posits that as the number of users
connected in a network increases, the value of the network as a whole
increases by the square of the number of users. The universal accessibility
of the Internet by the entire world, from every person to every person,
will be (or will set the stage for) the single greatest advance in freedom
in the history of this world.
Why IPv6? Because we need to choose to have a world of six billion people
with their own digital identities, rather than a faceless mob hidden behind
Network Address Translation (NAT) after NAT after NAT. In India today
there are already people using the Internet with five levels of NATs.
Thats five levels of anonymity and the ability to redirect private
and personal messages for every communication. With IPv6, each of the
people in the world can have a static IP address that can allow him/her
to peer with any other person, and to have greater identity, security
(assuming IPSec stays mandatory and is implemented in the actual devices
and infrastructure), mobility, and the ability to adapt to new and novel
uses (rickshaws? dhows? camels?) via ad hoc networking. We can connect
everyone to everyone else with IPv6. We cannot do so securely without
Why IPv6 devices? Because people need tools to amplify their abilities.
Simple machines like wheels, levers, pulleys, wedges, and inclined planes
help humans to amplify their muscle power. Motors and engines increase
our speed and power. Communications devices increase our individual and
collective voices. But only IPv6 devices can bring secure and universal
peer to peer communications to the entire human race, and connect all
of our domesticated animals, 800 million vehicles, and one billion buildings
In the context of universal access via IPv6 devices, lets look at
a few statements from President Bushs second inauguration speech,
and see how well this proposal fits:
"So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support
the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation
and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
I believe that getting v6 Communicators in the hands of every person
would support the growth of democratic movements and institutions
in every nation and culture and, in fact, that this is the
only proposal that is both affordable and achievable in the current
state of financial and popularity (or unpopularity) that the US government
finds itself. I believe that many millions of people, armed with these
v6 Communicators, would end tyranny in their own countries, without
the US needing to fire a shot.
"This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will
defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary.
Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens,
and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities."
If bringing freedom is not primarily a task of arms, where is the
example of the US engaging in efforts to bring freedom without arms?
Millions of US troops were rotated in and out of Western Europe in
the expectation that defending Europe was a task of arms. Troops have
been in South Korea for over a half century, with the Korean War still
not ended. If we really believe that freedom, by its nature, must
be chosen by citizens, then we need to give them the instruments to
expand their freedom to chose in hundreds of ways. Some of these might
be very small, like whom to buy from or sell to, or whom to team up
with (from the hundreds who might live at a distance). The rule of
law is enhanced by making the laws accessible at ones fingertips,
something that would be trivial with the v6 Communicators at hand.
The protection of minorities can be facilitated by having immediate
and consistent postings of the names and even photos of the harassers
while they are in the act. Think about how the images of Rodney King
changed the dialogue about treatment of minorities in the US. Every
nation would have its own version of this, and the police would be
told to stop beating people up, or killing them, because the entire
world would now be watching, and ready to deluge the leaders with
scorn, thereby creating a living hell for any leader who allowed his/her
goon squads to run amok, without the US needing to fire a shot.
"And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions
that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from
our own. America will not impose our own style of government on
the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own
voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way."
This is the core of the message. With a v6 Communicator in everyones
grasp, people could find and amplify their voices, with the most interesting
voices rising to new prominence, even if they are primarily indexers
like Matt Drudge (of the awesome DrudgeReport.com). American military
occupations, by necessity, have indeed imposed an American style of
government. Just look at Germany, Korea, and Japan. The v6 Communicators
will help others find their voices and attain their freedom in many
ways including making a living and getting self-guided educations.
I think the Internet is also vastly more reflective, over time, of
how the soul of America, and the souls of other nations, speak, compared
to newspapers, television, radio, magazines, or books, because it
can be one-to-many, many-to-one, or many-to-many, all at the same
time, and can be direct and honest, without being filtered or manipulated
by editors or middlemen.
"In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights
is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty
for all does not mean independence from one another."
Once the v6 Communicators are introduced to a society, an army of
volunteers could emerge to help repair, upgrade, service, support,
buy, sell, loan, debate, and critique the devices, the software that
was developed for them, the companies that will emerge to link them,
and the communities of interest and of practice that will mushroom
all around. Each v6 Communicator might bring forth another ten to
one hundred hours of extra service and assistance per year, also something
that military intervention would not engender.
"From the perspective of a single day, including this day
of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many.
From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are
narrower and fewer. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom?
And did our character bring credit to that cause?"
We need to learn from the past: Americans will never, ever all be
of one mind that the intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq (not to
mention Panama, Grenada, Mexico, Libya, Iran, Chile
the cause of freedom. And US character has been questioned in every
one of those cases, because of the corporate connections that attended
the situation (for instance, the assassination of Irans elected
leader, an attorney who had successfully and peacefully argued that
oil company actions were illegal and unfair). George Washington, the
only Six Star general the US has ever had, warned in his departure
speech that having a standing army invited foreign intervention. Were
he to be reconstructed as an artificial intelligence, his digital
doppelganger would very likely be opposed to an open ended plan to
bring freedom via warfare. He would very likely be in favor of enabling
information and communication Washington, along with his colleagues,
made an ultra-low-cost system of information distribution both part
of the US Constitution as well as part of his administration (the
postal system that was thereby put into effect delivered mostly newspapers
and pamphlets in its early days, even those of political opponents).
I believe that there is nothing that our generation in the US has
done that is more valuable than unleashing the Internet upon the world,
and that there is nothing we can easily do in the future, with no
loss of life, (ours or theirs) as valuable as bringing the Internet
via v6 Communicators to everyone. This initiative could
advance the cause of freedom more than any other idea that has been
proposed to date. It will build upon our unique American ability of
inventing new forms of communication (as we did with the universal
postal system, the inexpensive newspaper, the uncensored publishing
of books, the patent office, the telegraph, the telephone, the communications
satellite, and the mobile phone). I believe that most of the 95.6%
of the world population that is non-American has made up its mind
about whether US military intervention is a good thing or a bad thing,
and that there is no evidence whatsoever that an endless series of
military interventions will increase foreign affection or appraisal
of Americas character. Giving the gift of universal communications,
however, will increase the credibility of the US, and universally
raise the esteem in which US character is held, for generations to
come. Especially if each time the boot screen appears it says, Gift
of the people of the United States.
"America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout
all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our
strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements
in the history of freedom."
I believe that universal distribution of v6 Communicators would be
the single greatest achievement in the history of freedom. This newsletter
goes out to about seven thousand of the most intelligent, forward
thinking and technology-savvy people in the US and in many other countries.
I challenge the reader to come up with a different idea for what could
constitute a greater achievement in freedom (that is within Americas
power to provide) than the concept outlined above. If you have an
idea you think may be better, please send it to this newsletter. Please
also include your suggestions of how the alternate plan could be made
operational (Who would have to say yes? What questions would they
want to have answered?).
Thank you for your time in considering how we can use technology to amplify
freedom. In the end, I think that all the readers of 6Sense are already
advancing the cause of freedom simply by working to advance IPv6, which
eventually and inevitably will end up reaching every person, place, and
valuable thing. I just want the New Internet to happen in this decade
rather than taking thirty years again.