Internet Governance

1

This is an interesting topic that sheds light on the powers of the government. Powers such as putting a law into effect to restrict or prevent some actions seem like integral parts to a stable governing structure, and they are, but when it comes to the Internet…things become different. Although the government has power in restricting what we view (think China or North Korea), this is only national governance and not international governance. In addition to the restrictions and enforcements that can be placed on the Internet, there are ways to workaround them. This past summer, my roommate was in China and as you may be familiar with, China has blocked access to the online social networking Facebook.com. Despite the restriction, he was still able to circumvent the limitation by accessing Facebook through a VPN or using a proxy server. While China could govern its internet users, their governing ability truly is limited as my roommate has demonstrated.

On a side note, the government still does maintain significant power in governing the internet activity in their country.

The government is understood to be “all-seeing” and “all-knowing”–sort of like a watered down version of big brother. Although that may not be a favorable view, it’s not far from the truth. The government, and more specifically, the NSA, stores a lot of information that we may consider to be private information pertaining to us. While some may argue that it is just the government who is storing our private information, and this information is only useful if you or somebody you know may pose a threat to the nation, this is an issue that we must still focus in on and worry about. While there definitely is not a single person going through everyone’s private information and communications, the fact of the matter is: you don’t know how this information will be used in the future, nor do you know who is looking at this information and who has access to it as well. These are all very important and legitimate concerns for good reason. Let’s take an example below.

Assuming the NSA was a well-established entity well before the 1950s that collected private data, the red scare of the 50’s could have panned out very differently than it did. In an event like that, one that nobody really could have predicted or foresaw, all the information of the past becomes useful information. All your communications that involved the words, “communism” or “socialism” will be scrutinized by the government. Depending on what was exchanged in these communications and the details collected by the NSA, you could be prosecuted despite the establishment of freedoms such as the freedoms of speech association. And while the red scare was mostly built off of baseless finger-pointing and targeted mostly politicians, who is to say that the finger-pointing would be baseless and limited to politicians when a database with like-information is available to the government to peruse?

While the government may never be able to truly achieve international governance, as that would require coordination between nations all over the world, it is important to note that the government does have national governance over the internet. While it may not have uncompromising power, its ability to punish through tracking internet activity and storing data makes up for its lack of an ability to fully suppress. This should serve as a reminder to all: be careful in what you say online, for what you say online is online forever.

Civic Tech and Privacy

2

Wow, what an honor it was to have him speak in our seminar. He was definitely very insightful. Today, I want to discuss some of the things he said, so I’m going to format this with quotes that I took down and my opinion of what he had to say.

Who does the tech right? Who does the selling right? These are totally mutually exclusive. Spend $99 on marketing, and only $1 on product. Nail the sale side. The government is not a sophisticated partner.

I do not fully agree with that. I understand the point that he is trying to drive home: focus on the selling/sale aspect, and not necessarily the product itself; tell the buyer how great your product is and how it will solve all the problems they’ve ever had, even though the product itself might not be perfect. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I understand how important it is to be a good great salesman—being a great salesman is what will bring in your revenue and eventually get you funding from VCs. I’m just not sure how well-put those words are…let’s take a pencil for example. If I had a pencil and had to sell it to a buyer, it could be difficult to sell him the pencil at my desired price point, considering the competition. All the things you can do with my pencil is no different from the abilities of any other pencil, so I’m not really sure how even the best salesman can spin his pitch to really make the consumer’s mouth water at this pencil, especially if its actually worse than those elegant Ticonderogas out there on the market. Reflecting on this quote, I really think he wanted to show how non-technical some of the agencies the government hired actually were, yet they were successful because they did get hired after all.

Being able to tell someone where to run is better than knowing how to run.

So, once again, not quite sure how much I agree with this assertion. I think it could be useful telling someone how to run, but not knowing how to run yourself can be a big pitfall in terms of your own knowledge and ability to execute. People who know how to run know much more about the exercise, including its possibilities and limitations. If you can tell the person to run from point A to point B to deliver something, that would be productive in terms of making use of someone’s skill and knowledge. However, if you tell him to run 10 miles to point B and deliver the product in less than one hour, that could be a disaster. Just because you know the map, doesn’t mean you know the limitations or difficulties that your worker may run into. Also, what if you need to get to point B in one hour right now? It may be difficult to scout someone to do it, so this may be a good time to have a combination of these skills—knowing how to run and where to run is the best combination. I do not think one is better than the other because they are dependent on each other; I think a combination of both is best.

Coders aren’t scarce. You know what are though? Good ideas.

I can’t agree with this enough. As much as I would love to start the next big idea, it’s just unlikely. While that’s unfortunate, it’s the truth. No one is really going to reinvent the pencil—it’s fine the way it is. There are also a ton of substitutes already out there to appeal to the mass audience. While being a tech entrepreneur will always be my dream, I will always be reminded of the fact that good ideas are scarce because of the huge leaps we have already made in innovating the future. Prior to entering Harvard, I shared the similar mindset that it is better to know where to run than to know how to run. But after coming here, I think that it’s best to know both. That’s why I hope that I am able to learn a tremendous amount in computer science here to apply my skills to building a great innovation. While it may never become something, the learning experience will be invaluable. I’m ready to take my skills to the next level.

~ammer s.

 

Oh, Online Voting…

1

So, before this seminar, I actually thought about online voting. When I thought about it, I told myself that this was a great idea, and I wondered why it wasn’t actually a reality yet…

Naturally, I decided to get in contact with my local congressman and nearby politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren. I presumed that if I could get a meeting with a political leader, I can spearhead the future of voting. While sending a bunch of emails and snail mail, I decided to take this discussion to my dorm room and discuss it with some of my tech friends, or geeks, as many others would call them. After telling them that online voting is the future of voting, they looked at me perplexed. The problems they saw with it were innumerable:

“Online voting would be a disaster! Do you really want the Russians to determine who our next president is?”

“Ammer, you’re a smart guy, but this isn’t a smart idea..why do you want everyone to vote anyway? Only those willing to go to the polls should vote, and isn’t that easy enough already?”

“Let’s say voting was as easy on going online and pressing a button–who says the encryption won’t be unbreakable or the database is put into the right hands? You’re just opening up a can of worms this way. It’s easy enough, and 60% of Americans voting is perfectly sufficient.”

So, after hearing my friend’s remarks, I shied away from reaching out to political figures about this issue because I learned that voting is not an issue; although, online voting would make it into an issue. While 40% of the eligible voting population is not voting, I’m okay with it. Most of that 40% of eligible voters not voting are not voting because they do not care enough to go to the polls and fill out a ballot–I mean, it’s not like their vote matters, right? (total sarcasm..) While I wish for that 40% to dwindle, I don’t want that number to decrease by making it easier than it already is to vote. That would just bring unwanted votes in…I want that number to go down through education–that is the future of our country. This educational gap is such a big problem in our country, and I can’t put a finger on the cause, but its side effects are numerous. Not going into all of its side effects, voting is one of its biggest side effects.

So, while its obvious that education and knowledge is they key to resolving voter turnout, and not online voting, how about cheating at the polls? This has been happening for a while–think 1950s Chicago, when briberies would go on in polling booths to sway the vote for a particular candidate. But those are the old days, voter fraud no longer exists! Except, that’s definitely not true. Voter fraud is still very relevant today, but in more advanced ways. The traditional techniques such as ballot-stuffing, the destruction of ballots, voter impersonation, and misuse of proxy voting are still around, but that’s not my worry. My worry is the tampering of electronic voting machines–adding malicious code to alter vote counts for a particular candidate, tampering with hardware for the same effect, abusing administrator control of machine, and results that are sent through the internet can be vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack, giving a hacker the ability to intercept the results and change them to favor a candidate. With all these internet vulnerabilities and some states strict use of online voting machines, the possibility of voter fraud becomes more and more possible.

While I don’t know if electronic voting will ever be tampered with, I can confidently say that internet voting is just not needed as of now. The system makes it easy enough to vote, and the voter turnout is perfectly fine the way it is. Those who don’t vote are mostly uninformed or do not care, but this is not to claim that everyone that votes is informed as well. It’s not the time for online voting. Maybe, just maybe, it will be the time for online voting in the future. This is: the future of the internet.

~ammer s.

 

What can be Created, can be Destroyed.

1

This is a really interesting idea for the future–will computers, similar to the Terminator, take over humans one day? Will computers become smarter than humans and be able to act independent of and against humans?

Let’s get into talking about the possibility of this happening.

Theoretically speaking, this could most definitely happen and become a reality. As long as Moore’s law holds true for the next few decades, computers will be able to model the human brain in terms of processing and functionality. The ability to act quicker and more intelligently can be a reality, but I want to discuss two key ideas before we continue: intelligence and modeling after the human brain.

Intelligence is such an ambiguous term. A good way to examine the definition of intelligence is by looking at Harvard students. If you take a look at the average admission statistics for Harvard College, you’ll notice that the College reports that the average SAT score and GPA for admitted students was a 2260 and 3.97 unweighted–two main measures of intelligence or “college readiness”. Considering students who attend the college were among the top of their class and scored better than 98% of all of America, on average, I think many people would confidently conclude that Harvard students are intelligent. While I’m not trying to challenge that assertion by any means because many of my peers perform very well academically, I would say that based off of those statistics, it can be assumed that Harvard students test well academically and performed well academically. In terms of intelligence, I cannot say that my peers are intelligent because intelligence is so unclear. Is the best biologist in my class also an expert in the game of football? Does he share the same football intelligence as some of the most famous coaches or players of all time? Possibly, because it is Harvard, but probably not. This does not mean that he is not smart or intelligent; this just means that he is intelligent in terms of biology and whatever other subjects this particular student may excel in. How about the student the student that does not do well in biology, but is extremely social? Is this student dumb? Definitely not–he is socially intelligent, but perhaps not so well-versed in subjects such as biology. This is what I mean that intelligence is ambiguous–there are so many different types and no definitive ways to measure it. For the singularity to happen, however, many of us assume that computers have to outsmart humans, but we have no idea what “outsmarts” even means. Does that mean overpower, does it mean to have the ability to learn better and faster than humans, or is it a combination of both? This is a difficult question that I really do not have an answer to. The best answer I can provide, however, is that computers must have the ability to learn quicker and better than humans to be considered “smarter” than humans and be able to use this obtained knowledge better. If these computers can learn and use the information better, they will be able to teach themselves in all aspects to objectively be smarter than humans.

Let’s move on to the idea of modeling it like the human brain

If computers can learn better and more than humans and use this information better than us, then how do you go about making computers like the ones described? Do you model the human brain? Well, the brain is a network of chemical pathways, whereas the computer is a network of electric pathways. Are chemical and electrical pathways the same? How about the fact that we don’t even understand how the human brain works (good luck trying to model it after something we don’t understand). How about the idea that you don’t model it like the human brain, and instead model it into something better and more efficient than the human brain because it is meant to be more efficient anyway. How about the idea that the brain is known to have poor memory and clashes between different types of intelligence, such as emotional and logical intelligence–do you allocate enough memory so that it remembers everything perfectly or just partially, like us, and do you allow for these clashes or prevent them at all costs? The human brain is such an intricate system and abstraction would come into play big time here when modeling it like or even better than the human brain.

I think the singularity is really interesting, but I am a firm believer in the laws of the universe: what can be created, can be destroyed. If we were nearing the singularity, you can either stop innovating through a ban if you can detect that point. If it’s made already and is seen to have possibly detrimental effects, then it should be maintained the same way nuclear bombs are.

What can be created, can be destroyed. 

IoT – Cool or Scary…?

2

The Internet of Things.

When I first heard that phrase, I had no idea what it meant. In the context of the conversation, I assumed that it meant the expansion of the Internet to “things”, but I wasn’t sure what “things” really meant. Isn’t the Internet expansive enough, I thought? With my entrepreneurial mindset, I couldn’t see any room to make the Internet more applicable. That’s because:

  1. I didn’t understand the Internet at its core.
  2. Narrow-thinking–you gotta think big.
  3. I didn’t believe I could make an impact the magnitude of the IoT

After being introduced to the IoT and its wonders, I’ve really been thinking about the ethical implications and potential consequences of the IoT. Let’s begin with some examples and analyze them from there.

One of the coolest examples regards the future of your home. Imagine a home that has its own connected network of gadgets, or better yet, its own internet. Your home knows when you aren’t home, so it turns off the lights for you to conserve energy and help you save money on your electricity bill. Occasionally, especially when out for longer durations, your home will turn on and off the lights randomly to apply the facade that you are home to scare away potential thieves and ensure the safety of your home. Assuming your home is connected to your phone, the possibilities become endless. The data that your phone and home can collect can be super helpful in improving your quality of life. Your home will know now your typical work hours, and on your drive home, not only will your phone tell you alternative routes to avoid traffic, but your phone will tell your home that you are on your way back so your house should turn on the air condition to make the house nice and cool by the time you get there. Once you get out of your car and approach the door, the smart lock on your door will know its you because of your phone, and will unlock the door for you. Upon walking in, the camera that you have set up facing your door will turn off, the lights will turn on, the shades will go up, the air condition will turn off, the TV will turn on with your favorite news network playing and the list goes on. Time is limited, and the idea of your home running by itself in your favor is attractive for good reason (or reasons?).

While this all sounds good and super helpful for all homeowners, it has some fatal flaws. Big data is scary–do you know who’s behind the screen looking at the data that’s being collected? Is it being collected anonymously or is your home associated with the data that is being collected? How about modes of interception–what if it gets in the wrong hands? The data can be extremely valuable to anyone with a malicious intent, so how secure is this data? There’s definitely a tradeoff made between convenience and risk, but by how much? With industry standards for encryption, I’d say that the chances are slim for this information to be intercepted. However, if this information is ever put in the wrong hands, the damage that can be done is enormous. So while there is a low risk, the potential damage is extremely high. However, this risk and potential consequence, when weighed against the convenience of a smart home, may not matter as much as some people might think.

Let’s talk about our smart phones. The data that my smartphone collects is crazy; it tells me the traffic on my way home when I didn’t even tell it that I was going home–and somehow manages to get it right all the time–and knows where I am at all times. The risk of this type of data getting stolen is minimal because isn’t easy to do, but I would argue that it would be easier to intercept than intercepting a smart home’s data, just because smart homes are not as common so it’d be difficult to pinpoint which home uses specific technology and which homes do not. The data that these phones collect can also be used for detrimental effects just as bad as the smart home’s data, but we still use our smartphones without even thinking twice of the risk. I don’t think we should live in a nation of fear, albeit current national security tensions raised by the one and only individual that I am not going to mention in this post. We are a nation of progress–a nation built off of technology and intelligence. We are heading in the right direction with smart homes and other IoT gadgets. Let’s embrace the progress that we see and rather than believing the notion that the data being collected can be used against us, let’s think more about how it can be used for us.

~ ammer s.

 

 

Where’s the Internet Heading?

2

Last week’s seminar was super insightful; we finally began to talk about Internet as we know it today. This discussion made me think about where the Internet is heading in the near future. While we have many more weeks to go to talk about this–I want to see what I think about it now and see how my opinion changes in the coming weeks. So, let’s do this.

To me, the Internet was invented for one reason: to make connecting simpler than ever. This notion will never change. The premise that the internet will evolve to ever have a different purpose is not what this class is about. This class is about educating us on how the means to connect in a simple manner will evolve in the near future (plus more, of course). So, if the whole point of the internet is to connect us–whether it be to a news source like Yahoo! (lol), or long-lost twin on Facebook (that must’ve happened, considering its 1 billion+ user base..)–connecting will be different. Let’s take a look at an example: Uber.

Uber is fascinating. To me, it seems so blatantly obvious of an idea and I’m personally shocked someone didn’t come up with it early. I mean, let’s think about what it does: it connects you to a driver to simplify your traveling experience. Taxis are great and all, but Uber is just so much more convenient, and better yet, cheaper (for the most part). Uber singlehandedly disrupted the Taxi market and are slowly driving them out of business. Just take a look at Harvard Square on a Friday night; you’ll find tens of cab drivers waiting outside their cars waiting for business while Uber drivings are receiving overflowing requests. It’s a great idea that helps connect people in need of a service at a lower cost. Overall:  brilliant.

Now, let’s move on to another idea that really fascinates me as well: Venmo. Invented by University of Pennsylvania students, Venmo creates a digital wallet for people to transfer money in their bank accounts or Venmo accounts to their friends. Ever go on a late-night food run with your friends and forget your wallet? No worries. Venmo got your back (and your friends, assuming they brought their wallets…). When you boil down Venmo to its core functionality, you notice that it achieves a similar purpose to Uber. It, once again, connects you to friends to simplify the means of which you transfer money. What I think is even more brilliant is Venmo’s creation of a digital wallet. If someone sends you money via Venmo, it stores automatically in your Venmo account. From there, you can choose to put that money in your bank account or leave it in your account for future transactions so that you can send that money to others on Venmo–pure genius!  This all revolves around the idea of connecting–connecting you with others to transfer money easier and connecting this money to a type of digital currency. Overall: brilliant.

So we talked about two brilliant ideas that go on to show how the internet’s primary use seems to be connectivity–which is what I’m very convinced of. Let’s talk about an idea that uses this premise of connectivity and simplicity: bringing the classroom to you, no matter where you are. I always thought about this as a child who’d miss school quite frequently because of sickness–how can I keep learning at the comfort of my own bed? How can I be connected to my classroom at home so that learning never stops? It’s a simple idea, and this is definitely not terribly difficult to integrate. It makes me think about the future and what I think the Internet could be good for–I think this is one of them.

~ammer s.

Let’s talk Internet. (or internet?)

4

The internet is a truly fascinating invention–we established this in the past weeks. We learned about IMPs, gateways, and other technical components that made up the Internet of the past. But, I want to move this conversation more toward the “software” side of the internet. The software brings the hardware to life; both are nothing without each other and something with each other. But let’s also not be too quick to dismiss importance of the hardware side, as you should have an understanding of the hardware and software to truly respect the Internet for what it is, and what it will become.

I began my journey digging into the software side of the Internet when I was in the 6th grade. I found a site called Webs.com, a site that allows you to easily create websites. I decided to make a website called “www.webs.xboxrepairsandstuff.com,” a website that provides an Xbox-repair service. At the time, I wasn’t sure about the legality of this, but it’s no longer in business…so we’re okay. I can tell you now, however, that this was definitely not a legitimate company and would be considered illegal nowadays.

When making this site, I used spark words like “professional,” “quick,” and “inexpensive” to capture the attention of those who landed on my page. I furnished the website background with a bunch of Xbox’s and made the logo with Century SchoolBook Font (what was I thinking?). I had a form that people could fill out so I can give them a free price evaluation for their repair, and I even had the eCommerce part of the site all finished up, nice and neat. I offered competitive pricing–so competitive, in fact, that the next cheapest competitor offered similar services for 200% the price of mine! Now it only seems that the only problem with my website and service was getting the word out to possible customers…How in the world is a 12 year old going to get people to know about his “business”? Considering I had almost no capital and could not afford any type of marketing–let’s not forget it being an illegitimate company–marketing did not seem feasible. However, I thought about how I first learned how to repair an Xbox 360: YouTube. So, without any hesitation, I made a video about my service and posted comments on popular videos that taught people how to fix their Xbox 360s saying that my company can do it affordably and quickly–which it did. With the combination of these buzzwords, design, functionality, competitiveness, and cheap, yet effective marketing, I thought I had the perfect website for the perfect service. This was my first real venture, using the internet as we know it.

So then it began–I got my first real inquiry. The customer was from California, and he sent his Xbox 360 to me. 5 days later, I would receive his broken Xbox 360 at my doorstep. I remember running to the front door and grabbing that package like a maniac. I tore it open and got straight to work–I didn’t sleep until 3 AM that night. Using the materials I purchased, ~$2.00 worth, I spent the entire day trying to fix it. While I probably was not making much money per the hour in retrospect, I was doing something that I was enjoying. After spending hours working on it, I sent the Xbox 360 back to home in California and waited a week for his feedback.

One Thursday afternoon, I receive an email from the customer. The subject read, “Review Received”. Filled with apprehension, I opened the email to read that the customer was…satisfied. I was excited to see that my first customer went well, and I began to think of a future for the website. I could start expanding and fixing anything–iPhone, computer, Wii, or anything else of my interest (so, technology). But with the summer starting in a few days, I would be going to Egypt for the summer and could not continue the business overseas. That was the end of the company for the summer, I thought. That led me to finally take a step into programming–but that’s for another story.

~ammer s.

Week 2: Connecting as We Know It

2

Connect. 7 letters, two syllables, 1 word.

While I was back in my hometown of Parsippany, New Jersey, I celebrated Eid with my family. My nieces and nephews were running around the house like maniacs with relentless stamina and will. My brothers and sisters were crowded together over the table playing a game of Apples to Apples. My parents and I were sitting down in the living room talking about college and my past few weeks here at Harvard. While we were all doing different things, we all shared one thing in common: we were interacting, or rather, connecting, with each other.

Before the internet, humans would connect and interact all the time. I’d venture to argue that we interacted better in person without the internet, but that’s a discussion for another time. The world-class scientists that were working on the internet in the mid to late 1900s did not know what they were connecting despite the internet being based off of the most common practices of all time. It was something that nobody, as far as we’re concerned, ever truly visualized, and for those who visualized a network of connectivity, there were skeptics out there to reject their notion. The internet could not have been structured or created with its contemporary functions–too much of a daunting task. However, some believed in making technological advances in networking, not knowing exactly what they were doing or that their future contributions would guide us to the development we know as the Internet today. They believed in the idea of creating a network of computers that all successfully speak a similar language through the usage of IMPs. They believed in connecting, albeit not sure to what extent.

As I reflect on the notion of connectivity in society, it brings me back to my startup, Flare, that I have been working on with my friends from MIT, Wharton and Rutgers. We all believe in the same mission: a more well-connected society. But haven’t we reached the tipping point in connectivity with the internet and its products today like Facebook? You might say yes, but I don’t think so. When it comes to the internet, or connectivity, or anything at all, nothing is perfect, nor has anything reached its full potential. It only reaches its full potential when you think it has–but trust me, it didn’t. Back to the initial idea of providing a product to enhance connectivity, we are developing Flare, a mobile application that does just that. This application brings your campus to your fingertips; social organizations–like fraternities or final clubs–student organizations, or students and faculty alike shoot public or private flares (events) to notify their target audiences of events that are happening near them. Whether it is a club meeting for the Crimson, TedTalk, party at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Flare aims to connect you with your surroundings and friends. We want to help organize your social life by providing college students with a simple means of communicating events with each other. Upon release (this semester hopefully), we will be available at MIT and Harvard for usage. While this application appears very dependent on usage from all the parties listed before, we will be providing the initial flow of content until enough momentum catches on.

We are making good progress–development has been started at HackMIT this past weekend, and all the designs and algorithms have been set. We just need to get to market, and worst comes to worst, my friends and I have a cool application to use for ourselves. We want to help connect and bring people together, which is the same mission that the founders of the internet set out on. Let’s bring this mission home, baby.

~ammer s.

Week 1: How the Internet Started

3

To me, the internet is fascinating. It’s something that is so integral to society, yet no one really saw any value to it. But then again, that’s how many startups begin: with an idea that not many people really see. Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, says in his book Zero to One: Notes on Startups and How to Shape the Future, “There are some things in this world which are so blatantly obvious that we just miss it. The idea may be simple, but it consists of many quirks and intricacies, adding a facade to the idea. Those who can see past this facade can see the future. Those who remove the facade and act on the idea, however, are the ones who shape the future.” Internet pioneers like Bob Taylor not only saw past this facade, but worked on creating the internet we know of today.

I was fascinated by the fact that the internet spurred as a result of government involvement in R&D to compete with the Soviets. With the Soviet’s Union launch of Sputnik, the United States began to fear that they may have been lacking in the defense and technology industries. In response to its launch, the country’s top scientists were collected to work together as a military unit–something that they were unfamiliar with. To compete with the Soviets and really succeed, this research group could not function as a military unit. Therefore, research groups like ARPA begin to switch into startup mode–like nowadays–to generate innovation by giving them freedom to explore specific areas of interest. One day, I want to be a part of a startup and take this similar approach to continue shaping the future and the future of the internet.

Considering my passion in entrepreneurship, I really valued the advice about making a startup team. The tips were:

  1. Find the best talent in areas that you may lack in
  2. Don’t overload one side–be balanced
  3. Ensure good leadership and collaboration among all parts of the organization

This advice really speaks to me because I always viewed entrepreneurship as a one-man pursuit. I learned that to design the future, whether it be the internet or a new food recipe, a team works best when the above criteria is satisfied. Personally, I have been trying to step foot in the entrepreneurship scene here at Harvard and this profound advice will hopefully allow me to build an effective team.

One last takeaway for me from this conversation was how the network of IMPs and computers worked. Although oversimplified to cater to my understanding, huge (ancient) computers would communicate with each other using IMPs. My original, intuitive understanding about how computers would communicate over long distances was through a compiler that would read the source code and draw native elements of the code to satisfy the system’s other language to compile in the same machine code of 1’s and 0’s powered by transistors. However, a translator is not really the most effective method. To solve the problem of connecting these standalone computers, IMPs, or Intermediate Protocols, would read code that is written specifically for it to build a universal language that IMPs would communicate in. By using these IMPs to communicate with each other, a network is built that allows for quick communication, a lack of congestion, low-costs because of shared cables and an easier means to communicate. These cables would carry electrical impulses, or sound, of varying tones which would correlate to different machine codes being executed.

Log in