6Sense: Generating New Possibilities in the New Internet.
Produced by: IPv6 Summit, Inc.

IPv6 as an Instrument of Freedom Amplification
Alex Lightman, CEO, IPv6 Summit, Inc.

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 America’s 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 deficits.

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 don’t 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 India’s 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 doesn’t 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. Metcalfe’s 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. That’s 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 it.

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 as well.

In the context of universal access via IPv6 devices, let’s look at a few statements from President Bush’s 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 one’s 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 everyone’s 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…) advanced 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 Iran’s 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 America’s 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 America’s 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.