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Q&A With MIT's Nicholas Negroponte

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the learn-at-the-feet dept.

The Internet 185

Lisa Langsdorf writes "Thought you might be interested in this interview between Nicholas Negroponte and BusinessWeek Online's Steven Baker. In it, Nicholas says that peer-to-peer is his prediction as to which new products or services are likely to make the biggest splash, he says: Peer-to-peer is key. I mean that in every form conceivable: cell phones without towers, sharing leftover food, bartering, etc. Furthermore, you will see micro-wireless networks, where everyday devices become routers of messages that have nothing to do with themselves. Nature is pretty good at networks, self-organizing systems. By contrast, social systems are top-down and hierarchical, from which we draw the basic assumption that organization and order can only come from centralism. "

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185 comments

I really have to disagree. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456326)

What I mean is, FP.

New quote from the future: (4, Funny)

JoeLinux (20366) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456337)

"Honestly mom, that pr0n was just going THROUGH my device. I think it just got stuck!"

Re:New quote from the future: (4, Funny)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456360)

"Honestly mom, that pr0n was just going THROUGH my device. I think it just got stuck!"

Like this? [bash.org]

Re:New quote from the future: (1)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457099)


At first I was scared to click this link (I know I'm not the only one), but I had to come back for it.

I am relieved to say that it is both work-safe (as long as no one is in your immediate vicinity) and somewhat amusing.

Meow! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456345)

Before Trollkore...

Before CLIT...

Before the GNAA...

There was MEOW. Now coming to Slashdot!

Meow meow Matt Bruce meow meow Henrietta Pussycat meow meow Presidents of the United States of America meow Kitty?

Jesus... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456347)

Well blow me, this guy is obviously a genious. I mean after all this time that several million people have been using P2P, somebody thinks it might be used a lot in the future..

Come one, did we really need some computer geek to tell us that?
There's nothing more to see here, next story please.

Re:Jesus... (0)

Azrael Newtype (688138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456406)

In Soviet Russia, P2P uses you. I had to.

Can I pass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456540)

I agree with you, but I don't want to blow you... ever.

Re:Jesus... (1)

normal_guy (676813) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457013)

The ideas of the Director of MIT's Media Laboratory somehow have a little more credibility than millions of Anonymous Cowards.

Re:Jesus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457190)

Nicholos Negroponte makes predictions as often as I take a piss. Has the man ever said anything that even Gartner or IDG doesn't already know about?

Re:Jesus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457204)

It's called "hype", and some people (such as our distinguished guest Nicholas :-) need to engage in it more often than others.

Great (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456349)

Now my work computer will tell me I'm out of milk at home.

"Your home liquid calcium levels are low. Please pause at the grocers and aquire more."

fdsafsdf 1st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456354)

fr1st p134wesar

P2P (4, Funny)

Unnngh! (731758) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456359)

devices become routers of messages that have nothing to do with themselves

Almost like...The Internet!?!?!

Re:P2P (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456660)

Funny... but misses the point. When you hit a web page from home, all the computers (routers, proxy servers, etc) that the data passes through have been built, configured and installed for the central purpose of moving data. In that sense they have *everything* to do with routing your web page.

What Negroponte means is that your phone will pass data for other clients like a router does, but it will also be your mobile phone (a helpful, interactive, personal device). So instead of having a fairly strict division between client, server, and message-passing machines, each device will contain the transport functions and also do something individualistic.

This architecture, it seems to me, will imply encryption throughout -- somehow, people are more concerned by the idea of their data passing through other individuals' devices (what if they look at it?!) than they are sending the data through the hands of a few mega-corporations. I would say this is a good thing...

Re:P2P (3, Interesting)

finkployd (12902) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456942)

This architecture, it seems to me, will imply encryption throughout -- somehow, people are more concerned by the idea of their data passing through other individuals' devices (what if they look at it?!) than they are sending the data through the hands of a few mega-corporations. I would say this is a good thing...

I agree this is a good thing, but I want to point out that I really don't care if most of my stuff is encrypted. The stuff I do care about is pretty much all encrypted anyway. Someone wants to watch the bits while I pull up slashdot, or download a new kernel, they are welcome to it. I am REALLY concerned about the integrity of pretty much all my data though. So those packets better be signed in someway so I know there was no tampering.

Finkployd

Join the GNAASTEE already (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456361)

Applications for the GNAASTEE [gnaastee.org] are being accepted at this time.

Re:Join the GNAASTEE already (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456383)

damn it, if you're going to be an asshole GNAA troll, at least register the domain you're trolling about!

Re:Join the GNAASTEE already (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456395)

Site has been slashdotted in record time!

viruses (4, Interesting)

mwheeler01 (625017) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456363)

let's hear it for a better way to spread viruses. As we all know bluetooth is now starting to spread viruses from phone to phone...this is the wave of the future.

Re:viruses (2, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457012)

uhhuh "as we all know".. it's a wave of the future that you can transfer data with devices meant for transferring data?

yeah, well, did you read anything about the 'virus'? it was more like "hey, it's possible to TRANSFER PROGRAMS WITH BLUETOOTH" than being of any major concern to anyone.. unless you think it's a major concern to somebody that you can transfer a program to your friend if you want to do so and your friend can choose to run that program if he wants.. if the user _wants_ to install something it doesn't much matter how the program got to him in the first place, only way to prevent such from spreading would be to take the right of running whatever the user wants away from the user.

Hmm.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456365)

I gotta poo.

Not to be logically fallacious... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456371)

You should realize that this Nick Negroponte is the SAME GUY that whored himself to Swatch to promote their ridiculous "Internet Time" initiative.

Re:Not to be logically fallacious... (5, Funny)

generic-man (33649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456552)

Internet Time [cnn.com] is NOT ridiculous. It represents a new paradigm in temporal spatiality, allowing for unfettered representation of the current moment synchronetically throughout the world.

Re:Not to be logically fallacious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456593)

I thought that the internet replaced Synchronet.

Re:Not to be logically fallacious... (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456714)

No, Synchronet [synchronet.com] is still around.

I wonder... (5, Insightful)

hazy_fakie (781520) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456372)

exactly how can peer-to-peer networks come into our lives so easily. I mean how do you trust totally unknown people to transfer your data/food/whatever between any two points?
As a matter of fact, who would trust their credit card number to travel through a peer-to-peer network to get to the company he/she's ordering from? And this is just money... how about food as mentioned in the article?

Re:I wonder... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456399)

"And this is just money... how about food as mentioned i the article?"

I think you have some priority issues, mate.

Mail (4, Insightful)

meehawl (73285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456408)

I mean how do you trust totally unknown people to transfer your data/food/whatever between any two points?

This happens every day when I drop mail into the postbox. Or when I buy a banana in the local market.

Re:Mail (4, Insightful)

Nakito (702386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456574)

This happens every day when I drop mail into the postbox.

I think your analogy actually cuts the other way. When you drop your mail into the mailbox, it enters a highly regulated, automated, centralized system that collects fees (i.e., stamps) of which the government gets a cut. Yes, it's true that you do not know the people, but you sure know who they work for.

By contrast, Negroponte seems to be suggesting that you would (in effect) hand your letter to a stranger on the street, who would hand it off to another, who hands it off to another, etc., until it gets to where it's going, with no intervention by a centralized agency.

It's an interesting theory, but we'll never see it happen, for one obvious reason: it does not lend itself well to being taxed.

Re:Mail (3, Insightful)

generic-man (33649) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456669)

By contrast, Negroponte seems to be suggesting that you would (in effect) hand your letter to a stranger on the street, who would hand it off to another, who hands it off to another, etc., until it gets to where it's going, with no intervention by a centralized agency.

It's an interesting theory, but we'll never see it happen, for one obvious reason: it does not lend itself well to being taxed.


That's the most ridiculous dismissal I've seen in a while. If someone at the USPS messes up my shipment, I can file a claim against the insurance I bought. The postal service is liable for the conduct of its employees. How exactly is this system improved by arbitrarily trusting anyone on the street?

I'd also like you to price out insurance on sending mail via this method. If anyone would even bother to insure you, I guarantee it would cost a lot more than the taxes you so hate to pay.

Re:Mail (3, Interesting)

Nakito (702386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456834)

That's the most ridiculous dismissal I've seen in a while.

Actually, I meant it in a different way than you have interpreted. Let me try to say it better.

Centralized governments do not encourage econcomic processes that are not subject to audit and taxation. That is why smuggling is illegal. That is why barter transactions must be reported on your income tax (if you are a US taxpayer). The point I meant to make was that Negroponte's theory does not take this into account. Therefore, I believe it is unlikely that his vision of a decentralized, unregulated, economically-significant distribution system could now come into existence.

Full Faith & Credit (2, Interesting)

meehawl (73285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456674)

When you drop your mail into the mailbox, it enters a highly regulated, automated, centralized system that collects fees

Any mutually inter-dependent system can become self-organising and regulated according to custom and expectations. The key issue is the "centralisation". That's the central point.

I argue that the centralisation in this case stems from the State monopoly on money. In their recent history States have generally monopolized the right to issue fiat money for settlement of all debts, public and private, throughout their territory. For this monopoly to prevail they rely on consent, coercion, and the implicit threat of judicial or police violence.

Privatised money that removed this monopoly would also invalidate your counter-argument. There have been cases of non-State delivery networks for private citizens. Today we are in fact living through another periodic renaissance of non-State delivery companies (Fedex, UPS, etc). I think private money is just a matter of time and when and if that happens then a lot of formerly "centralised" economic networks will be reshaped.

Re:Mail (3, Interesting)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456933)

By contrast, Negroponte seems to be suggesting that you would (in effect) hand your letter to a stranger on the street, who would hand it off to another, who hands it off to another, etc., until it gets to where it's going, with no intervention by a centralized agency.

I think you are being somewhat shortsighted here. Any P2P system is more centralized than it seems on the surface once you look a bit deeper. The protocol level of these networks are highly centralized in that they are developed at a company or standards body. Any device wanting to be part of the network needs to conform to that protcol. Being that greater power is gained from a bigger network, it is to the device's benefit to conform to the popular protocol.

Emphasizing humans as carriers for this data is quite rediculous. Most of what you do already is out in the open right now for anyone to see it. Wireless and P2P will make this more prevalent, but hardly mean you have to put more trust in strangers. You are trusting the protocol running over the network. Again, trusting the standards bodies/companies to come up with a reliable protocol.

Taxing happens at the sale of the device level. Software is of very little use without a device to run on it. Taxing only works when something holds value, which software doesn't necessarily do on its own. That's a bit of a misleading statement but generally correct. Protocols can also have a license "tax" similar to the MPEG standard.

In short, you shouldn't fear this because it seems more open. Most rapid periods of progress occur when things become more open and free (democracy, railroads, telephone, Internet, etc.) Each invention that opens up information has a certain balance of centralization and openness that gives it credibility. P2P is certainly no different.

Re:Mail (1)

Nakito (702386) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457029)

Emphasizing humans as carriers for this data is quite rediculous.

Yes, I agree with this completely if you are referring only to electronic transactions. But in the portion of the Negroponte interview that inspired this particular thread, that is exactly what Negroponte suggested. He opines that in the future, the P2P model would apply not only to electronic transactions, but also to basic physical transactions. He specifically mentions bartering and food distribution. Such transactions are not subject to the kind of structures that you identify in the electronic realm. Hence my belief that Negroponte is trying to extend the P2P model farther than it can really go.

Re:I wonder... (4, Interesting)

Otto (17870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456413)

As a matter of fact, who would trust their credit card number to travel through a peer-to-peer network to get to the company he/she's ordering from? And this is just money... how about food as mentioned in the article?
Why do you trust servers/routers that your number passes through now over the internet?

Answer: You don't. You use some form of end to end encryption (https).

As far as the food thing goes, I think he was making a point. I'm not eating anybody's leftovers except my own anytime soon. ;)

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457232)

As far as the food thing goes, I think he was making a point.

Of which, apparently, only he is aware...

Mr. Poo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456389)

Damnit people, I said I have to poo and it won't come out!

DON'T ANY OF YOU CARE??

Re:Mr. Poo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456470)

No we don't, dumbass!

Re:Mr. Poo (2, Funny)

Azrael Newtype (688138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456501)

Unless you could do it by distributing it over a new wireless network supported by thousands of regular people, then no.
Actually, that'd be kind of interesting, being able to defecate via wireless ethernet. Bosses would love it a bit too much though since they wouldn't have to pay for our bathroom breaks. Of course, if we somehow get around to the point that we could do such things, at least maybe P2P would stop being such a sticking point with the government, since they'd have bigger things to worry about, like regulation of bathroom dropoff locations, making sure they aren't, banks and such. Or making sure we don't wirelessly transfer ourselves into bank vaults or.... What?

Unsatisfied (2, Insightful)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456398)

A: Peer-to-peer is key. I mean that in every form conceivable: cell phones without towers, sharing leftover food, bartering, etc

Is it just me or is his answer devoid of reasons why "peer-to-peer is key"?

Nature is pretty good at networks, self-organizing systems. By contrast, social systems are top-down and hierarchical, from which we draw the basic assumption that organization and order can only come from centralism.

Ok... so, why is "peer-to-peer key"?

Key to what?

Re:Unsatisfied (2, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456463)

Key to decentralized technology, I suppose, judging from the analogy.

When you have centralized entities, it does not take much to bring them down -- think Napster. However, when you have genuine P2P -- where there is no real central point of failure, it would become almost impossible to bring out the destruction of such a system.

And we are always used to central and organized systems (hell, we even have a hierarchy of people ruling, err governing us) -- he just says that this is deviant from the norm because we do not have any one point upon which everything is based.

Therefore, it is unique and will be harder to bring down than traditional systems. Does that help? :)

Re:Unsatisfied (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456545)

...he just says that this is deviant from the norm because we do not have any one point upon which everything is based.

Therefore, it is unique and will be harder to bring down than traditional systems. Does that help?

That could make sense if the question was about longevity (and if you can maintain that the likes of IBM, Exxon, Microsoft and the White House have faded into irrelevancy). But look at the original question:

Q: Which new products or services are likely to make the biggest splash?

New products. Which of those will become established? And by whom?

Re:Unsatisfied (2, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456771)

Peer to peer technology challenges traditional norms, therefore any new technology that employs P2P is most likely to make a big splash.

Traditional innovations are stifled by centralization, so if the queen bee falls, everything else around it falls. However, P2P does not have that issue and therefore, any new technology that employs this is more likely to be popular, and will last longer.

I'm guessing he jumps to this conclusion from the outburst of P2P applications after Napster, and how all the media conglomerates are trying to drive P2P to the ground.

Look at today's distribution methods -- they are centralized. On the other hand, look at BitTorrent and other P2P technologies -- they are NOT centralized. Look at data processing -- distributed (non-centralized) processing can be used to beat the law.

Any area that you look at, the present day socio-economic technology model is outdated in the sense that it was not made with the assumption of such fast and instantaneous transfers across large distances, the way it's happening today with media.

However, the way of the future is understanding that P2P is inevitable, and using this to your advantage. The companies that would do this would be successful, and hence his statements.

Re:Unsatisfied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457136)

ror

Re:Unsatisfied (3, Interesting)

IrresponsibleUseOfFr (779706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457194)

I still fail to see how P2P is key. Yes, the network might be harder to take down, but reliability isn't the most important aspect to most systems, usefulness is. In my experience, having a disorganized network becomes more susceptable to abuse. I mean compare Gnutella vs. BitTorrent, I'd argue that BitTorrent generally works better. And that is because there is a little bit of structure built into the system via the tracker.

I also don't like his nature argument. Nature creates hierarchies too. Your brain tells the rest of your body what to do. Queen bees vs. drones vs. workers. I mean, there are physical differences there, and it can't be pinned on purely social phenomenom.

I also have a hard time seeing any benefit from having your toaster route packets for you. I can see many houses having wireless routers in the future, just not integrated into every device in the house. It just seems like there will always be some specialized device that will do a 100x better job. People that really care will buy that. Other people will have blinking 12:00 syndrome.

As a side note to p2p applictions, the one idea that really hasn't come to fruition is p2p content creation. I mean, p2p is very useful for communication (IM, IP Telephony, forums, etc.) and distribution (BitTorrent). Wiki's and Open Source are sort of p2p content creation. But, I was thinking more along the lines of tradition art. Like an app that let's you play music together over the net to make a song. Or paint a picture, or make a movie. Obviously, the market for such programs is smaller than the consume content variety. But, I'd really like the net to really start enabling the production of new art in ways that weren't possible before. Beyond the obvious of enabling collaboration and hand-offs, but actually affecting the production of digital art. Although, I make no guarantees about if it will work well in practice.

Re:Unsatisfied (2, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456641)

You'd think he'd notice that the natural, nonhierarchical primitive evolved naturally towards the top-down system of society in the end. It's also worth noting that Bittorrent, the program most commonly cited as the best P2P design out there, requires a central server to operate, while something like Freenet, which is truly decentralized, is a bear to use and has significantly disdvantages such as being unsearchable.

Re:Unsatisfied (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456723)

Don't sweat it. Negroponte is just a another technology parrot. He's no better than Gilder just a lot less annoying in person. They both simply rearrange and repeat.

Great article, but..... (4, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456400)

I do not agree with some of what he says.

Companies cannot really see beyond their current customer base. They explicitly or implicitly do things to protect their current customers. And the last person to want real change is your customer. This is why most new ideas come from small companies that have nothing to lose.

The last person to want real change is not the customer, these days it seems to be the companies making that decision for the customer.

Think of any area, there are millions of customers who want a change for the better -- however the companies are just not letting the change happen and say that it's for the good of the customer, or that what the customer wants is illegal (and if it isn't illegal, they'll just pass a couple of laws and make it illegal).

And to be honest, small companies that bring about great innovations are being stifled, especially because they are shit scared of law suits. I'm surprised that Nicholas did not mention this in his interview.

True, they hold the key. But it does not take much to crush them down, either.

Re:Great article, but..... (1)

mcwop (31034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456570)

You make a good point. It seems to be just a few old-line industries blocking change at every turn. Music companies are trying to squish p2p file sharing, and a host of other technologies. Phone comapnies want to squish VOIP.

However, there are many larger organizations that innovate for their customers. Even my formerly big crappy bank is adding nice online banking features at every turn.

Re:Great article, but..... (3, Insightful)

dtmos (447842) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456888)

The problem is in the definition of "better." Read "The Innovator's Dilemma [amazon.com] " by Clayton M. Christensen.

The basic idea is that your present customers value a certain set of features or parameters of your product, which leads you to continue to make the same product, only "better", defining "better" to be "the same as your present product, only with [the parameter(s) they care about] improved." Significant numbers of new customers, however, can only be attracted by a new technology that, while perhaps scoring lower with your present customers, has some other feature that is not in your present product. Christensen uses the example of disk drives, which have been placed in smaller and smaller form factors, even though that hurts the existing customers of disk drive manufacturers, by reducing their storage capacity (which is the parameter the present customers care about). Smaller disk drives, however, enable the drives to be used in minicomputers instead of big iron, then in desktops instead of minicomputers, then in laptops and PDAs, etc., increasing their sales volume each time--the new customers at each transition value physical size over absolute storage capacity. The larger sales volume in turn led to R&D that enabled the new generation to eventually surpass the old in the original performance metric, storage capacity.

Existing customers resisted the change each time because, for example, the first 3.5-inch drives had less capacity than 5.25-inch drives, and who wants less capacity in a hard drive? But the manufacturer that listened to his present customers, keeping to the 5.25-inch format and not making 3.5-inch drives, found his market, and his business, disappearing quickly. Christensen used the term "incremental change" to describe the capacity improvements made in a given drive form factor (which made existing customers happier), and "distruptive change" to describe the move from one form factor to another (which brought in new customers).

And that's what Negroponte meant.

How can distributed P2P maintain its speed? (4, Insightful)

Monty845 (739787) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456415)

Wont it take a lot longer for a message to work its way threw a massive network of wireless devices than it would otherwise take for the message to travel threw a conventional backbone? Has anyone come up with a method to reduce the impact the additional routing will create?

Re:How can distributed P2P maintain its speed? (2, Insightful)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456650)

> Wont it take a lot longer for a message to work its way threw a massive network of wireless devices than it would otherwise take for the message to travel threw a conventional backbone?

One might have asked, "Why would I want to route this post through hundreds of devices on some crazy internetwork when I could just dial straight into the conventional BBS?"

Just at thought.

Half joking here... (2, Interesting)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456796)

But really, what would be wrong with an approach similar to that of lightning: probe routes quickly, caching along the way, then using the shortest-path algorithm (or some such) to choose which path to "solidify" for a bursted data transfer?

Yeah, i'm half talkin out of my ass there, but ya know, sometimes good ideas show up that way ;-)

Oh yeah, the other prob with that, wouldn't it need lots of network traffic and ram just to maintain a network of path/nodes/phones/whatever?

Re:How can distributed P2P maintain its speed? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457230)

Current wireless transmission protocols trade tranmission speed to deal with power concerns involved with communicating over increasing distances. What's particularly counter-intuitive given experience with wired networks is that multiple hops can often actually be faster in wireless networks due to these speed/distance tradeoffs.

Sorry... (2, Informative)

acey72 (716552) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456418)

..typical Negroponte - jumping on the bandwagon way after everyone else has a seat - look how long it took the MIT media lab to get a website.

Ah, the 90s (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456427)

What happened to Negroponte? He used to be everywhere, then he disappeared as the web seemed to totally subsume the Media Lab's vision of the future.

prediction? (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456436)

...sharing leftover food, bartering...

Yes, and here we have the most depressing economic forecast ever. Don't forget "fighting over petrol" and "driving really fast cars".

"fighting over petrol", "driving really fast cars (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456529)

...sharing leftover food, bartering...

Who run barter-town?

Geesh, if that's where P2P leads us, maybe the RIAA is right. Hmmmm.

Late, but ... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456453)

OK, so Negroponte is a bit 2002 on this one. At least he's expanded his repertoire beyond "Being digital is important. Atoms are heavy; bits are weightless. Did I mention that being digital is important?"

Kids, back in the olden days of the 1990's, there was a whole magazine that consisted of repeating "Atoms are heavy; bits are weightless." over and over again, interspersed with pictures of stuff they said you had to buy. Strange times.

Re:Late, but ... (1)

Astrorunner (316100) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456503)

Wired?

Its changed slightly... (3, Funny)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456556)

Now that same magazine mostly consists of pictures of things you are supposed to buy interspersed with pictures of Sergei Brin and Steve Jobs. Its still mostly toilet paper though.

Re:Late, but ... (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456793)

It was too bad that Wired went from being relevant to blatant prostitution.

There were more ads than content when I cancelled my subscription. I picked up a couple of issues in the years since, but just couldn't find anything to justify making it a regular purchase any more.

Skynet? (1)

no1here (467578) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456464)

so if everything is connected, then what happens when the machines realize they no longer need us to bring them together because they are already one?

Negroponte's Law (3, Interesting)

bstadil (7110) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456469)

Strange the status of Negroponte's Law from his book Being Digital was not brought up

His law I guess from the early 90's said that everything that was airborne would become fixed conduits and the reverse.

Example: Television is mostly fixed and stationary so cable will take over. Telephones is for people that is moving so they will switch to Wireless.

Re:Negroponte's Law (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456778)

I shudder to think of the impact of power becoming "airborne". I like being *outside* the Farraday cage of my microwave, thank you.

Organisation & order can only come from centra (1, Informative)

meehawl (73285) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456496)

Saying that organization and order can only come from centralism sounds a little, well, ideologically loaded coming from the brother of John Negroponte [disinfopedia.org] , the former US Ambassador to Honduras who seems to have formed the opinion that the best way to establish order in fractious Latin countries was to tacitly allow strong men and dictators to terrorise, torture and kill the populace.

And now John Negroponte is Bush's choice for next Ambassador to Iraq, where it seems the current US administration obviously feels a little torture and a few disappeared people is one way to restore "order". How convenient!

wow (1)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456616)


I'm genuinely impressed. That's the cleverest disguise for an offtopic post I've ever seen on Slashdot.

Of course, I am new here.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457018)

Welcome to Slashdot, where everything and nothing is true.

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (1)

Suicide Bomberman (679592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456868)

Hopefully he'll come to the same end as Nick Berg.

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457036)

Why do you hate America so much?

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457062)

Why do you hate Honduras so much?

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457110)

Why do you hate torturers so much?

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457140)

Why do you hate Slashdot so much?

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457159)

Why do you hate me so much?

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457195)

Why do you hate?

Re:Organisation & order can only come from cen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9457213)

We all hate you.

Peer to Peer Good? (1)

bfg9000 (726447) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456517)

Yeah, but if peer to peer really DOES take over, everything would be more equitable, we would be free of all the lock-ins and inefficient bottlenecks the big companies and governments have worked so hard to force on us, and worst of all, with the destruction of the "Overlord" social class, it would basically be the end of the "I, for one, welcome our alien overlords" jokes! Therefore, peer to peer MUST be stopped, if only for the sake of all those Slashdot trolls who don't have the brainpower to write something original.

You can take away the "alien overlord" jokes, but we'll always have Soviet Russ--

Oh.

Re:Peer to Peer Good? (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456794)

WTF are you talking about?

Being Obvious (1)

hey (83763) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456548)

I read "Being Digital"... there was absolutely no insight in that book. So Bits are replacing Atoms... brilliant. Maybe someday we'll get email to replace paper-mail... Wow. Where do I sign up to be a guru too.

Agreed, Nick was showing the rear view mirror (2, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456591)

By time Negroponte published that book, most of the important aspects of digital information management and theory had already been nailed.

Whats interesting is how wrong he got some parts. He totally missed the web...he seemed to be stuck on some vision of uber-TV.

Great.... just think how expensive things will be (1)

WhiteLudaFan (634444) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456550)

I can hardly wait for the $50 toaster that can pass along all the messages it recieves.

Re:Great.... just think how expensive things will (1)

aj50 (789101) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456661)

Exactly, the people who will lose most will be those with new devices. Take, for example, the idea that people may share their computer time with each other so that lots of computers can be used to do the work of one. Whoever has the fastest computer helps others the most but gains the least!

he's stating the patently obvious (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456568)

isn't this news as of 2000?

the killer apps that proved the model: im ala icq, music sharing ala napster, are already dust in the wind, taken over by aim, kazaa, etc.

and we know what the concerns are with those apps: patent infringement, viruses, spam, etc.

what we need is a wireless killer app without these concerns thwarting it

we also need a user base: enough infratstructure and people with bluetooth or whatever wireless protocol enabled gadgets to make a critical mass for the rest of the world to notice

and then we can start talking about p2p again the way negroponte is

i don't know what this killer app is, i'm no futurist, but some of you out there closer to the ground with some wacky ideas may be, and i say, to you goes the spoils of the future of computing/ the internet/ media itself

roll up your sleeves and get programming

the internet is still a very young place, we are still on the upside of the bell curve of innovation yet to come, so even though what negroponte says is dubious and/ or obvious and therefore useless, the basic observation of the youth of the internet and its promising future remains unchallenged

that's why futurists like negroponte sound interesting, because they get that (no matter if their predictions are crapola)

one of you out there reading this is going to become very rich/ influential/ famous

that is for sure

but how you are going to do that probably has very little to do with what negorponte is talking about

Re:he's stating the patently obvious (1)

JamieF (16832) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457240)

>what we need is a wireless killer app without these concerns thwarting it

How about VOIP? Wouldn't it be interesting if you could just by a handset and start calling people for free? Perhaps at some point you'd want to make a long distance call and couldn't find a path across the free P2P network (or you wanted a QOS guarantee) which would use your paid subscription, but for a call across town, why not?

Erm... (4, Insightful)

MindNumbingOblivion (668443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456597)

Most of this stuff is fairly obvious (to /. at least). It is nice to see mainstream treatment of it though...

P2P has already proven its effectiveness, whether you look at programs like KaZaA, Mercora, etc. But it works on wired systems because there is established infrastructure that makes the rest of the system work. For his system to work, it would be like taking out the router/server farms from the ISPs and turning every desktop computer into both a router and a server. It adds complexity, and while it ensures redundancy and would keep outages like the earlier one at Akamai from happening, it would require lots of overhead.

There is a reason that we assume that centralised systems work better; they are easier to establish, coordinate and control. This outlook only works if you are going for a fully anarchist system, which you will never get everyone to buy into, barring a massive sociological paradigm shift; something has to happen that convinces everyone that a truly open society is more beneficial than the current model.

Re:Erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9456702)

"massive sociological paradigm shift"

Sounds like John Kerry.....Sounds bad

Better vote for bush

that THINK! (1)

surreal-maitland (711954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456612)

dear god:

i don't often believe in you, but i'll make an exception in this case.

please don't let necroponte build a media lab of the world. i mean, look, india was smart. they shut theirs down. you know, because media lab india didn't *do* anything. ireland has not caught on yet, and the united states, well, we started the damn thing.

the world should not be full of cat toys that think, and refridgerators that share your leftovers. and the governments of the world should not be putting tax dollars to create such things.

thanks, peace out,

P2P as key may be wishful thinking... (2, Insightful)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456614)

Because historically, smaller groups of very poweful people will always do everything to control the masses. Sure, P2P is great and all, and nature's self-organization is a good model, but human society works like that only in certain limited ways. Free market is supposed to work like that in theory, but in practice, it's obvious the market is not really free.

Those with money and power will continue to control and influence the masses while giving the masses the illusion of lack of centralized control.

RIAA, MPAA, governments, banking and financing industries, are all out to centralize control of flow of things. They are not going to give up that power easily. This is partly why we have social classes, and that in the world, the wealthy get wealthier and the poor get poorer, why government's agricultural subsidy create farmers who are not wealthy, but become addicts to subsidy, and why certain companies make so much money from them.

What I want to know is... (0, Offtopic)

jaymzter (452402) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456615)

Did Darl refer to cattle rustling when he asked for the code comparison? And what happened to the other two MIT scientists... are they _sleeping with the fishes_?

anarchism is cool (1)

mratitude (782540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456622)

I like anarchy and P2P is the best example of anarchy in the technology world. The basic principle of which is the individual is king and all matters are between individuals only.

So it might be great that my blender can forward my VoIP traffic but what happens when the guy who owns the router I use wants to mod how I use bandwidth to get to /.?

Anarchy, gotta love it.

Hype that matters? (3, Insightful)

rafael_es_son (669255) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456633)

Nicholas Negroponte is f a r being from a geek. He is a suit that pretends to be one. I have not read a single piece written by this person having anything resembling substance. He embodies the prototypical techological-determinist, quite ill read or prepared for anything besides business-talk. For this, amongst many other reasons, I'd rather read a publication like "Scientific American" than "Wired" any day. This guy is seriously brain-damaged.

Now what would an interview with this guy be doing in Slashdot?

Deconstructing Ne-gro-pon-te (1, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456913)

sharing leftover food

Page me your chalupa...

Nature is pretty good at networks, self-organizing systems. By contrast, social systems are top-down and hierarchical,

I always thought that society was a direct result of nature, as exemplified by the complex relationships of wolf pack, a lion pride or a troop of macaques, but seemingly the geniuses at media lab have discovered that social systems are not from nature.

Skype is remarkable (I know them well) and will change the landscape radically.

Yet another "breakthrough" prediction from the people at Media Lab. They were richly endowed, with ready access to MIT students and living right at the time of the PC/Internet revolution. Yet, nothing has come out of them. It surely takes some talent to miss the boat this much.

So this leaves universities somewhat alone. This isn't meant to be self-serving,

Of course not. The MIT Media Lab would never hype a technology or situation for their own benefit (</sarcasm>).

The biggest new thing . 2nd gen broadband. (1)

DRWHOISME (696739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456940)

The biggest impact will be affordable 100 megabit broadband . This can only happen with government help.

When this happens then the phone companys and the cable companies could be put out of business.

HDTV and distributed computing will be big. Home theatre operating systems with networking throughout the the house with wifi/wired.

Another Self-Appointed Expert (4, Insightful)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 10 years ago | (#9456993)

who knows nothing.

From 1998:

Nicholas Negroponte predicts "You're going to see within the next year an
extraordinary movement on the Web of systems for micropayment ... ." He goes on
to predict micropayment revenues in the Billions of dollars.

Rubbish (1)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457003)

P2P might be very useful for certain apps bit will be utterly useless for others. P2P will be much more affected by spam and security issues etc. than centralized approaches. And there scalability issues. Do you think a P2P search engine would work ? Do you think you can get any service with QoS on a pure P2P system ? Do you think you could build a PKI on P2P basis ?

Real life peer to peer networks (1)

evil ai (722288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457021)

I can see this being applied with great success in actual peer to peer networks.

Before the 'digital / internet' era people traded 'physical / analogue' objects like books, taps, records, pictures. Today they do trade mp3s, pdfs, jpegs, etc.

Right now peer to peer networks scale globally, which is really cool, but i'm trading stuff with strangers, what about my friends? With the proliferation of wireless and bluetooth type networks we will have the ability to create local p2p networks. I want to be able to share music, pics, video, data, etc seemlessly with my friends without having to connect to the internet. Why should i have to if he's standing right next to me? Why cant my device just talk directly to his?

The next killer app will meerly leverage peer to peer technology. Peer to Peer networks will just be a means to end end. What we will be sharing is way more important than how will will be sharing it...

blah blah blah (-1, Troll)

mevo (747912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457056)

blah blah blah innovation blah blah blah is blah blah blah a blah blah blah feeling blah blah blah or blah blah blah a blah blah blah broadcast blah blah blah of blah blah blah the blah blah blah environment blah blah blah expressed blah blah blah in blah blah blah a blah blah blah way blah blah blah that blah blah blah can blah blah blah be blah blah blah understood blah blah blah or amplified blah blah blah to blah blah blah anyone blah blah blah regardless blah blah blah of blah blah blah time blah blah blah or blah blah blah space blah blah blah my blah blah blah two blah blah blah cents blah blah blah blah

MIT & Peer-to-Peer (3, Informative)

shadowmatter (734276) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457084)

When someone from MIT says peer-to-peer is a good thing, he's talking about peer-to-peer as an architecture. He does not mean "KaZaA 0wnz!! fr33 pr0n = 1337!!!!111oneoneone." People are interested in peer-to-peer for reasons other than file-sharing because they're scalable architectures that can handle load balancing very well, and have no central point of failure.

Most peer-to-peer research in universities regards creating better, faster Distributed Hash Tables, or DHTs for short. Typically, for N nodes on an overlay network connected by a DHT, insertion and queries come at log(N) cost. MIT has one of the best, called Chord [mit.edu] . Some DHTs are very fragile and their routing topology can "break" when under extreme churn (when a flash of nodes suddenly join or leave the network), or malicious nodes attempt to manipulate other nodes' routing tables by creating fake identities (see the Sybil attack [rice.edu] ) -- Chord has been shown to be very resistant to both. Other notables are Kademlia [nyu.edu] from NYU (which is under the hood of eMule), and Pastry [slashdot.org] from Rice (Microsoft collaborated).

MIT has done some pioneering research in DHTs, and they have a lot of great minds on it. I'm making my own peer-to-peer program (hopefully it will be ready in a few months) and it will incorporate quite a few of the ideas they've developed. One of their ideas that I find particularly interesting (and I think should be incorporated into BitTorrent, because it seems like the perfect application) is called Vivaldi [mit.edu] . You can read for yourself on how it works, but when applying it to BitTorrent, basicially the tracker would give you peers it thinks you have a low ping time to, as opposed to a random list which may be sub-optimal.

They're also involved in Project IRIS [project-iris.net] , which aims to develop a decentralized Internet infrastructure using all the latest DHT technology. It's funded indirectly through -- gasp -- the government via the NSF.

So yeah, don't just think that MIT is jumping on the bandwagon. They've been on the bleeding edge for some time.

- shadowmatter

False assumption about social networks (3, Insightful)

analog_line (465182) | more than 10 years ago | (#9457207)

By contrast, social systems are top-down and hierarchical, from which we draw the basic assumption that organization and order can only come from centralism.

This is a fallacy you don't even need to be a PhD to figure out (which is lucky for me). To each person, their social network might appear to be a hierarchical system with them at the top, but that is only because of their rather limited scope, and some helping of selfishness that all of us carry at least a bit of. However all these little social networks are just pieces of the real "Social Network" sitting out there.

If you know no one, it's really hard to get anything done in this world. The old saw of, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," is truer than many people would like to believe. I route my friends to people and places I know that have what they want or need, exactly like a node on a p2p network does. Me and the people I know are just a small chunk of the Social Network that humanity has built and made itself a part of for the last...gods how long has humanity been around? It's so big it's hard to get a grasp on it. Most people just see themselves and those they know and ignore everything and everyone else, most of the time out of necessity. It's hard enough to cope with the immediate for the vast majority of people out there. Taking the time to look at all the connections and build the big picture is just not something that's worthwhile to most people, but that doesn't mean it's not there if they're not aware of it.

Central control is not the way humanity, left to it's own devices, organizes itself. Centralized systems try to limit the natural peering we do to focus people for some particular end (closed countries and economies, corporate officers determining the company direction, jobs period limit us and what we do and who we talk to) and it's neither good or bad. Unrestricted peering is an unfocused haze of not much getting done. People spend a lot of time dealing with things that don't further any specific agenda. Focus requires limits on what we do, and not much good has happened in this world without a lot of people focused on it.

However, even then the most it can do is limit it. Sometimes to a very strong degree (like North Korea) but even then the peering happens and communication and commerce happens outside that central control. People get smuggled out of North Korea to freedom in South Korea despite the efforts of the most draconian regime on the planet. People get smuggled into Western nations as slaves (for sex, sweatshop work, or whatnot) despite the abolishment of slavery, tough laws, and seemingly almost universal abhorrence of the practice. If centralized control was the way people actually worked, this kind of stuff would be pretty much impossible.
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