On October 29, 1969, professor Leonard Kleinrock and a team at the University of California at Los Angeles got a computer to “talk” to a machine in what is now known as Silicon Valley.
The event gave birth to a network that later became known as the internet — hailed at first as a boon to equality and enlightenment, but with a dark side that has emerged as well.
As UCLA marks the anniversary, Kleinrock is opening a new lab devoted to all things related to the internet — particularly mitigating some of its unintended consequences on the internet which is now used by some four billion people worldwide.
“To some point it democratizes everyone,” Kleinrock told AFP.
“But it is also a perfect formula for the dark side, as we have learned.”
So much is shouted online that moderate voices are drowned out and extreme viewpoints are amplified, spewing hate, misinformation and abuse, he contended.
“As engineers, we were not thinking in terms of nasty behavior,” said Kleinrock, 85.
“I totally missed the social networking side. I was thinking about people talking to computers or computers talking to computers, not people talking to people.”
The new Connection Lab will welcome research on topics including machine learning, social networking, blockchain and the internet of things, with an eye toward thwarting online evils.
Kleinrock expressed particular interest in using blockchain technology to attach reputations to people or things online to provide a gauge of who or what to trust.
For example, someone reading an online restaurant review would be able to see how reliable that author’s posts have been.
“It is a network of reputation that is constantly up to date,” Kleinrock said.
“The challenge is how to do that in an ethical and responsible fashion; anonymity is a two-edged sword, of course.”
Businesses Being Bad
He blamed many of the internet’s ills on businesses hawking things that are outdated or unneeded, violating privacy to increase profit.
Instead of clever lone hackers that vexed the internet in its early days, bad actors now include nation states, organized crime and powerful corporations “doing big, bad things,” Kleinrock lamented.
“We were not the social scientists that we should have been,” Kleinrock said of the internet’s early days.
He regretted a lack of foresight to build into the very foundation of the internet tools for better authenticating users and data files.
“It wouldn’t have avoided the dark side, but it would have ameliorated it,” he said.
He remained optimistic about the internet’s woes being solved with encryption, blockchain or other innovations.
“I do still worry. I think everyone is feeling the impact of this very dark side of the internet that has bubbled up,” Kleinrock said.
“I still feel that the benefits are far more significant; I wouldn’t turn off the internet if I could.”
What Kind of Beast?
In the early days, US telecom colossus AT&T ran the lines connecting the computers for ARPANET, a project backed with money from a research arm of the US military.
A key to getting computers to exchange data was breaking digitized information into packets fired between machines with no wasting of time, according to Kleinrock.
A grad student began typing “LOG” to log into the distant computer, which crashed after getting the “O.”
“So, the first message was ‘Lo’ as in ‘Lo and behold,’” Kleinrock recounted. “We couldn’t have a better, more succinct first message.”
Kleinrock’s team logged in on the second try, sending digital data packets between computers on the ARPANET, so named because funding came from the US Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) established in 1958.
Credit for creating the internet is a topic of debate, since there are a series of key moments in its evolution including arrival of protocols for how data is routed, and creation of the World Wide Web system of online pages.
The name “internet” is a shortening of the “internetworking” allowed when one computer network could collaborate with another, according to Marc Weber, curatorial director at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.
“The billion dollar question is, what kind of beast has the internet become?” Weber asked.
“It has become the default main way for humans to communicate, and that is not small.”
While marking its 50th anniversary, the internet as we know it is a “rowdy teenager” in the eyes of Internet Society chief technology officer Olaf Kolkman.
“The internet has done more good than harm,” Kolkman said.
“The biggest challenge we have in front of us is that while we cope with big problems enabled by global connectivity that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
How can I look at others’ WhatsApp status without them knowing it?
The WhatsApp status feature has become a widely used option today with people posting regular updates on their stories.
After rolling out the feature, WhatsApp had also introduced an option of privacy on the status that you upload — who can and cannot see the update.
For users’ privacy, WhatsApp had rolled out a feature through which you can stop the blue tick, the read sign, in messages from appearing. However, did you know that the same could be done for stories?
Yes, you can spy on others’ stories without them having any knowledge about it.
How to do it
Well, it is a pretty simple trick, the same that is used for messages — WhatsApp> Setting> Privacy> Toggle off the Read receipt.
Now, you can view your contacts’ status without them knowing about it, but on the downside, you will not be able to see who has opened your status.
Snap to pay video creators $1 million daily
The fast-growing public listed American social media company – Snap Inc., plans to release new functionality to its Snapchat app in order to enable popular videos that would be termed as Spotlight, and further disclosed it will pay $1 million per day to the creators of high performing videos.
According to Bloomberg, Snap revealed how content creators could earn such income with ease, as the level of entry was kept minimal, on the basis that video submitters to Spotlight do not need to have large followers or popular profiles.
What you should know
An algorithm from the app software will be the judge in realizing what videos Snapchat users will see based on how often Snap users view such videos.
If other snap chat users view the same content repeatedly, for example, that’s an alert it’s trending and this will trigger the algorithm to distribute it more widely.
What this means
The new feature will give Snapchat enough ammunition to fend off its rivals in an ever-changing competitive market for posting trendy videos online, which has been largely controlled by Google’s YouTube, Facebook Inc.’s Instagram, and China-based ByteDance Ltd.’s popularly known TikTok.
Tech Experts anticipate that such a new feature in its trendy app could generate more revenue for the company, as its recent earnings show it has 249 million daily active users in Q3 – such high numbers will attract global brands on advertising and enable more sponsored content.
The investors of the American social media company have earned high returns from its stock in 2020 alone, as its stock has almost tripled this year to a record $45.38million on the bias that an increasing number of young people spend more time on the app.
Google’s latest Chrome update delivers ‘largest performance gain in years’
Google is wrapping up 2020 with what it claims are major performance enhancements to the company’s Google Chrome browser. “This month’s update represents the largest gain in Chrome performance in years,” Matt Waddell, Chrome’s director of product, wrote in a blog post. Sounds pretty exciting on the surface, no? Waddell says a slew of under-the-hood changes and optimizations have led to boosts to Chrome on several fronts.
But even opening Chrome should feel faster. The browser now launches 25 percent faster — hopefully to where you’ll notice the difference. It loads pages up to 7 percent faster, “and does all of this using less power and RAM than before.”
Google is also adding tab search, which is exactly what it sounds like and could be a godsend for those of us buried under an avalanche of them. “You’ll now be able to see a list of your open tabs — regardless of the window they’re in — then quickly type to find the one you need.” This feature is debuting on Chromebooks first and then expanding to other desktop versions of Chrome.
The address bar is getting a bit more useful with something Google calls Chrome Actions, “a faster way to get things done with just a few keystrokes.”
For example: when you type “edit passwords,” or “delete history,” you can now take action directly from the bar. Our first set of actions — available initially on desktop — focuses on privacy and security, so you can increase your peace of mind in a few clicks.
And last, you might soon notice “cards” when you open a new tab in Chrome.
To help you jump back into activities like planning a meal, researching a holiday gift, or winding down with a video, we’ll soon add cards to your new tab page in Chrome. Clicking on them will take you to recently-visited and related content on the web, and save you time in the process.”
For now, cards will only appear “for some users” beneath the shortcuts area; Google says it’s planning to add entertainment-focused cards in 2021.
All these things together add up to a significant update for the world’s most popular web browser. And they come on the very day that Apple is being lauded for the speed and efficiency of its new M1 Mac computers. Speaking of which, Chrome for macOS also gets a new icon that’s a better fit for the latest Big Sur release. But if the optimizations actually meet Google’s claims, I’m way more excited about the improved efficiency. The update to Chrome 87 is rolling out beginning today.
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