Reaching a Middle Ground on Net Neutrality

A lot of back and forth discussions are going on these days about Net Neutrality, a concept that some people (mostly internet geeks and internet companies) are holding as absolutely sacred, while others (mostly large ISPs and free market libertarians) claim holds back the industry from progressing.

Both camps have a grain of truth. Here are the facts as I understand them:

First, it looks like ISPs in the US are sitting on a tremendous broadband capacity that they are not releasing to their subscribers, nor investing in expanding, because they are waiting for this net neutrality regulation to be reversed. This is why the US is so behind in internet speeds and prices.


If Net Neutrality is Reversed

1. Waiting for the Shakedown – If net neutrality is reversed – ISPs will likely start releasing these faster speeds, but charge online services like Facebook, Netflix, YouTube, etc to be in the fast lane. They will attempt to shake down providers like Netflix, barring them from the higher speeds unless they pay a significant amount. This will result in higher subscription charges for all services, which will be forked over to the ISPs. It is basically a way for the ISPs to get a cut of the value created by actual internet innovators.
2. Advantage: Goliath – This would also create a real advantage for the big players, making it much harder for new and innovative startups and media companies to compete, since they won’t be able to afford the fast lane, as the gap between the slow lane and the fast lane would grow larger and larger.
3. Dangerous Opening for Censorship / Manipulation of Public Opinion – This is also a huge opening for the government, who has many ways (both legitimate and shady) to influence and manipulate these ISPs, to start influencing what content is promoted or demoted. It would create an enormous concentration of wealth in power in relatively few hands, and an easy lever to pull to squash unwanted voices and actors.

If Net Neutrality is Upheld

But what would happen if it net neutrality is NOT reversed – and it becomes clear that net neutrality is a core principle for American voters? I believe that in this case also, ISPs will also ultimately start releasing these faster speeds to subscribers, but this time charge customers based on bandwidth and compete with other providers as “dumb pipes”. Competing on bandwidth, reliability, security, and coverage – and nothing else. This means that services will continue to compete on an even ground, but subscribers will continue to determine how fast of a connection they need – and paying for it.
To me, it’s absolutely clear that this is the right way for the Internet to evolve. However, I am not a Net Neutrality radical.

A Middle Ground Solution for Net Neutrality

I think ISPs should be permitted to create non-neutral networks, with a few caveats:
(A). No False Advertising
Non-neutral network should NOT be referred to as The Internet or World Wide Web – but have a separate product name. Perhaps “Managed Network”. Users of a Managed Network cannot be said to be “online”, they must be said to be connected to the Managed Network. 
(B). Opening to Competition
Any ISP who wishes to offer a Managed Network service, must officially and legally wave all monopoly rights, pole rights, exclusivity deals and laws. Managed Network services should only be allowed in areas where there are at least 3 competing ISPs of equivalent coverage and bandwidth, and where at least two of them offer an actual Internet service (i.e. neutral connection), and where entry is not blocked to new competitors either legally or by exclusivity deals.
(C). No Double-Dipping
Managed Networks who charge content providers cannot also charge the end-consumer. In other words Managed Networks have to be FREE to end-consumers. This is to avoid the false pretense that the subscriber is in fact the customer, as opposed to the product, and avoiding conflict of interests.
(D). Total Transparency
Managed Network Providers must publish a full list detailing how much they are charging each content provider per subscriber. Content providers shall always be allowed to be transparent as they are passing on Managed Network costs to their subscribers, and be able to charge Managed Network subscribers more. (In other words: Managed Network Providers shall be forbidden to use any kind of threat or extortion to block content providers from disclosing how much the Network is shaking them down, and must provide content providers with an easy way to check whether a subscriber is a Managed Network subscriber, for the purpose of charging them more fot their service.)
(E). Slow Lane Minimum Bandwidth
In no Managed Network plan can the Slow Lane offer less than 25% of the total bandwidth available to the subscriber. Managed Network providers shall not block or slow down any content below this threshhold.
I believe the above principles will make it possible for a positive outcome to emerge, allowing both neutral Internet connections and Managed Networks to thrive side by side, and enabling consumers with low means to receive managed network services.
What do you think?

Busy, too busy.

Sometimes I ask myself whether the fact that I’m running a consulting business, writing a thesis, building a product, and learning Sanskrit all at the same time is only my flimsy, doomed attempt to outrun death.

IEEE quoting Aristotle

If a few years ago someone would have told me that the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) would start an urgent discussion of the purpose of life and cite Aristotle, I may not have believed you. Now, thanks to rapid developments in AI, it has become a necessity:

We need to make sure that these technologies are aligned to humans in terms of our moral values and ethical principles. AI/AS have to behave in a way that is beneficial to people beyond reaching functional goals and addressing technical problems. This will allow for an elevated level of trust between humans and our technology that is needed for a fruitful pervasive use of AI/AS in our daily lives.

Eudaimonia, as elucidated by Aristotle, is a practice that defines human wellbeing as the highest virtue for a society. Translated roughly as “flourishing,” the benefits of eudaimonia begin by conscious contemplation, where ethical considerations help us define how we wish to live.

By aligning the creation of AI/AS with the values of its users and society we can prioritize the increase of human wellbeing as our metric for progress in the algorithmic age.

Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Wellbeing with Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems

The Kermlin Playbook

I found this fascinating new podcast about the Russian interference in the US Elections and their methods of undermining democracies around the world. It’s from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a bi-partisan American think tank. The first episode was very promising!

In 2016, a rival foreign power, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, launched an attack on the United States of America.   What we now know is that American intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia planned and executed a campaign to undermine our democracy and to affect our Presidential election.

For President Trump, Russia is a complicated subject.  But this podcast isn’t about Donald Trump’s complications with Russia, nor is it about Republicans and Democrats.   One of the dangers in the hyper partisan American debate over Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election is that it is blurring the larger picture.  This three part podcast mini-series is about the larger picture.  Episode one will look at why Russia meddled in our election; episode two will examine case studies of past Russian behavior; and episode three will discuss what the US can do to counter Russia’s actions.

Hosted by CSIS’s H. Andrew Schwartz, co-host of “Bob Schieffer’s About the News”

Podcast Website Here –
Apple Podcasts Link Here –

Self-Organizing Stupidity?

I wonder if many years from now, when the history of the 21st century will be told, they’ll say it was the era in which technology first enabled human ignorance to self-organize on a global scale.

There have been, of course, many institutions that relied on stupidity and ignorance to flourish. Many religions, for instance, may have capitalized on human stupidity, ignorance, and prejudice to flourish. But the organizers themselves tended to be very smart, and religion always needed the support of smart people to stay in power – to keep the institution running. I think the internet has created an infrastructure that allows ignorant people to self-organize without any smart supervision.
Note how all around the world, fringe groups of highly uneducated and ignorant people – people who are largely immune to reason, have gained enormous power on the internet: White supremacists and Neo-nazis, racist Pro-Brexiters, the anti-immigration crowd, the extreme right in Israel who label anyone who wants peace with the Palestinians or dreams about the end of occupation a traitor, but also groups on the left like Occupy Wall Street and Antifa. There are a few interesting commonalities around these groups:
  1. They seem to be grassroots, often starting through a viral post, or an emotional reaction to an event. 
  2. They feature a very strong appeal to emotion, but have an almost total lack of educated or intellectual support.
  3. They tend to be purely destructive – there is often no attempt to create anything new, no clear agenda, no clear and considered plan.
  4. As soon as there is an attempt to form a cohesive agenda, by someone who is a bit more educated or intelligent – the fizzle out.

I’m not necessarily married to the term “stupidity” here – but I do think there is clearly a new phenomenon at play here, that of self-organizing *without* an actual organization, which necessitates thinking, planning, or capable educated people.

A poem I wrote on the bus

(Inspired by the Dao de Jing)

The worst of all is never to exist.
A close second is to exist but never to emerge.
Third is to emerge but never to cohere.
Fourth, to cohere but never to harmonize.
Fifth, to harmonize but never to plant the seed.
Sixth, to plant the seed but never to let go.
To exist,
And to emerge,
And to cohere,
And to harmonize,
And to plant the seed,
And to let go,
That is the highest.


Intrepid Radio Interview (18 minutes)

This short and sweet interview on the Intrepid Radio podcast dives into the idea behind the Book of Hard Truths.

Join me for a conversation that will very likely change how you look at your life. Today, joined by author Eran Dror, author of The Book of Hard Truths.

These “hard truths” are widely known and explored in religion & spirituality books, self-help books, psychology books, philosophy books, TED talks, etc. As Dror explains, he simply collected them, wrote them out as clearly as he could, and packaged them together in a new and compelling way. “I tried to create an emotional experience with the illustrations and the text, which will linger, “Dror writes. “My hope was that the book will provide a spark, which will get you thinking on your own about the truths you’ve been avoiding in your life.”

Listen Below:

Knowledge for Men Interview (52 minutes)

My longest interview yet, this interview on the Knowledge for Men Podcast is an exploration of The Book of Hard Truths.

Israeli born journalist, author and designer, Eran Dror has worked at various startups in NYC for nearly 10 years. Eran is the author of “The Book of Hard Truths” a book that brings into the light several hard, uncomfortable and unavoidable facts about life that we must all learn to accept.
Eran has recently taken an interest in Buddhist psychology and the ways we can apply it to our own lives to live with more presence.

Listen Below:

Enterprise Radio Interview (9m)

My short interview with Enterprise Radio is out. Check it out below.

Listen to host Eric Dye & guest Eran Dror discuss the following:
– What are the hard truths?
– Why do hard truths matter and for whom are they most applicable?
– What is the common reaction people have to the hard truths?
– What specific truths are hard for entrepreneurs to recognize?
– What can anyone going into a new business or launching a product do to help them accept some of the hard truths that will help them get on the path to success?

Here’s the interview on Soundcloud: