Over half a century ago, Leonard Kleinrock was working on his Ph.D. thesis for MIT when he developed an idea for testing patterns of activity across communications networks, such as telephone. With the following mathematical and statistical data, the basis of packet data pushed Kleinrock, with other scientists, to create the internet.
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Now fifty-years on from sowing the seeds for the online world in 1969, Kleinrock is coming back to fix the current incarnation of the internet. Speaking to ZDNet, the scientist said the foundations of an open and free internet have been lost. He believes leveraging technology will help steer the online world back towards its original core values.
Of course, the internet has become a valuable tool and a fundamental part of our lives. As a resource, it allows us to connect with each other, find information, search for websites, visit the online casino NetBet, consume media, and purchase products. Despite the way the internet has transformed society, Kleinrock believes it can get better.
And for the scientist, better means returning to the freedom the internet once represented:
“As you well know, the internet started out a democratic, free, shared, ethical, open network, and we have lost a lot of that,” said Kleinrock in an interview. “My hope is that this technology will help move us back in that direction.”
Back when he sent that first message 50 years ago, the internet was underpinned by an ideal of openness. While those ideals remain intact, they now sit alongside fake news, malware attacks, scams, and hate speech.
Kleinrock believes internet companies such as Facebook and Google are part of the problem, especially when it comes to privacy.
To help enact changes online, Kleinrock is collaborating with investors and technologists to create a company. Called Sunday Group, the organization has developed a system named “Mobby”, which gives users the ability to generate an online reputation. Because the solution is decentralized, the review system will not be under the control of a website or service.
In general, Sunday Group wants Mobby to work in a similar fashion to a virtual currency that will be underpinned by a person’s reputation. This will allow users to be rewarded for good behavior online and removed for bad behavior.
“The quality of the people who are speaking on the Net, blogging or tweeting or whatever, has in some sense a reputation associated with it,” explained Kleinrock. “I hope this will be a way to separate the crazies from the more thoughtful people.”