Essay: A Case for Inception for a Global E-Governance & Ethics UN Body
While attempts varying somewhat in scope and form have been made this millennia, a holistic, ethics-based communications intraweb global governance body does not exist. I believe that there is a pressing need for a global governing body for the interweb of communications that nations can be encouraged to agree to and participate in.
In the earliest days of the interweb, we didn't understand the effects that telecommunication technologies could/would have on our societies. Today, we are faced with growing challenges as global citizens, governments, and private interest governors are seeing the consequences of our communicative abilities. With lack of proactive global governance, we are now seeing reflexing; resorting to various forms of protectionism in a poorly executed attempt to steer our new communicative abilities. There is real risk of forming (as the NY Times quoted) a "splinternet" of potentially divergent and isolated bubbles of human (social) networking. This newly-coined “splinternet” is a limiting of access, content, and speech that is on a nation-by-nation/platform-by-platform basis. While some speech and content are harmful and must be constrained, this is occurring in a reactionary and ad-hoc manner and this is not what we need. The result seen so far, is a retraction or devolution in our ability to communicate and grow. If you are skeptical about devolution in language/communication, I invite you to study Sanskrit, Pali, and some of the descendant languages, such as modern-day Hindi.
The internet we enjoy now had quite humble beginnings: Since its inception abt. 1850, the internet has evolved to carry more and more information and has become increasingly accessible. This is, without question, one of our key milestones in communication development: First came the use of body language, then precision in sounds, then written, then using strictly electromagnetic force coded in Morse and transmitted via copper wire. In 1844 between the U.S. cities of Washington D.C. and Baltimore, the first EM line transmission (telegraph) allowed for reliable long-distance bidirectional communications. The light signalers of ole’ found themselves retiring to life in lighthouses or aboard ships. This is the mark of the beginning of what we now call the internet. Abt. 1880 marks the milestone for efficient and intuitive analog voice communications (telephone) Later, abt. 1900, two bleeding edge technological developments took this to the next level. First, all of the inhabited continents were connected by vast telegraph undersea cables. The next leap, Intercontinental radio transceivers were successfully deployed. Wireless global communications were now possible. Later the transistor came along, leading to the microprocessor (an integrated circuit of many transistors).
In the early 1980s, the first network of networks began to take shape; Digital communications were born. While less intuitive, increased efficiency allowed us to compress our information with far better efficiency and precision compared to spoken language or simple morse. The world-wide-web came about in 1990 and by the 90s much of the world had some form of access to it. Fiber optic trunks soon replaced wires. The light transmission over transparent glass strands provided incredible data rates with minimal loss and low energy requirements for bulk communications...higher altitude satellites began to provide somewhat limited access to remote locations, opening up opportunities to network anywhere on the globe (in fact this is how I “connect”).
Cellular technology has developed in some parallel, and now boasts breathtaking data transfer capabilities in some regions. Very soon the world will see a low earth orbit network that could enable us all to connect effortlessly, and relatively noninvasive neural implant technology will allow us near fluidity in communications.
From a birds-eye view, we witness clear progression in telecommunications. But recently this is at risk, at least in part due to the fact we do not fully understand where our developments in communication will lead us. Is it good or bad? Or perhaps somewhere in-between; and wherein does that line lay? These are examples of issues an international e-governance body can resolve.
The recent abilities we've displayed in social intelligence have caused fear and alarm; so much that our policymakers and private governors retract and attempt to protect their own or public interests. While this seems appropriate in some logic initially, it has grave consequences in the long term, in my opinion.
Splinternet is just like language, cultural, religious, and special interest divergence. It creates more division and each node grows further apart and independently. This might seem like a good thing until some of these nodes collide because they are so divergent they clash and impede each other's path of progress. We've seen this throughout human history and can well quantify the outcome; Conflict.
In order to avoid this, we need to come together, not bubble or segregate ourselves apart.
A treaty of nations, of a global e-governance body, would be the glue that halts and reverses isolationism and divergence. Therefore, I call for an e-governance (E-governance, expands to electronic governance, is the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all the processes, with the aim being to address the needs of the global citizen) & e-governance ethics body under the United Nations to address this very issue.
Strong coupling with focus on inclusivity of nations, think tanks, NGOs, and civil society in general, can participate in propelling our development forward; not backward.
The Internet Is Splintering - The New York Times -published February 17th, 2021