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How can we free the internet?

The internet may be free, but getting an internet connection costs money. Our cellphones have to send and receive messages through cell towers that are run by companies that require money from us. Is there a possibility to bypass the cell towers and connect straight to your recipient?

During the recent protest in Hong Kong, an app named Firechat was used to connect the protesters together. Firechat is an app based on the Wireless Mesh Network, which works by passing your message using wi-fi through other cellphones. sending the message to everyone in the network.

Short Range, Spotty Connections

This works when there is a concentrated number of people in a certain area, but what about a wireless mesh network that works for daily use? The problem with the current Wireless Mesh Network is the short wi-fi range of the phones. The less people use the app the harder it is to stay connected.

Unless there is an alternative stronger connection, technological advances in wi-fi range needs to be made for the Wireless Mesh Network to happen.

Private Messages in the Network

As a preferred connection, the software would need to allow encrypted private messages and phone calls to be passed through the network. Just like the Tor network that hides our identity by relaying it through different computers, this network may also be able to preserve our anonymity. 

Public Storage on your Personal Computer

Wireless Mesh Network has the possibility to become the preferred way to connect to each other, but can we store the internet on the mesh? Is there even a reason to store the internet on the network? To be able to connect to the internet at anytime would be nice. It may still be a slow transition if this could happen at all. We would start by storing our personal websites on our phones for all to access. But allowing the public to use a portion of your storage would be essential for a dependable truly decentralized internet.

Currently the internet costs money to run, but if we spread the internet wireless over every device on the planet, we may be able to have a free internet. 

I think we have a hoarding problem: A world of free ideas

We are now living in a world where our greatest ideas and thoughts are copyrighted and protected, where our music and art is licensed, where a single word that comes out of your mouth can be owned by someone else. The freedom we have, to be able to use certain thoughts and ideas, are on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. The problem is this: by fighting over who owns what idea, and stopping others from using our own ideas, we are slowing down our progress as humanity. Many great ideas have to die and cannot be improved upon because they are owned by someone else.

After releasing Tesla’s patents to the public, Elon Musk explains why with an analogy. He compares the Earth to a sinking ship that we are all on. If we come up with a better way to bail water out of the boat on one side of the ship, there is no reason for us not to share the idea with everyone else on the same ship.

Without the use of patents and copyrights, how do we ensure that we receive credit for our thoughts and ideas?

Giada Di Stefano Spoke about how there are already social norms in place to protect our ideas from being stolen. She explores the world of culinary chefs and the way they share recipes and ideas. She explains that we already adhere to a certain set of rules regarding sharing and receiving ideas.

We generally stay away from stealing ideas because we would be subjected to shunning if we tried to pass it off as our own. Stefano says that we just need to take a ‘leap of faith’ when sharing our ideas; she means that at a certain point we just need to start trusting people.

As humans we are all working together towards a certain goal, we are all building off each other’s ideas. The fact is that we cannot claim ownership of an idea, because our ideas are made based on all the ideas by everyone whom has ever came before. For example, you cannot technically patent an idea for a chair, without acknowledging that you do not own the idea of sitting. 

If we were freely sharing and working on our problems together, we would not need to waste our time, energy and resources fighting about who came up with the idea first.

So what is stopping us from sharing our ideas freely? 

Elon Musk on why he is releasing his patents for public use.

Social norms and intellectual property | Giada Di Stefano | TEDxHECParis

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