Internet is a tool, not a human right

Friday, January 27, 2012


In the quest to find out whether or not the internet is a human right, Brooke speaks to Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the internet. He says that the internet is a useful tool for improving the human condition, but because it is just a tool, it doesn't rise to the level of a human right.

Comments [5]

Good thoughts, Mr. Palais and Moore. Technically, the mathematical progression is not a doubling with each new node, as you both indicate. However, the purely technical perspective does not take into account those with whom Internet communicators share who are not themselves on the Internet. For example, one member of a remote sect in China could access the Internet, then consequently, communicate with and for everyone in that sect. Also, there could be dormant nodes existent on the network for which no human has access at all. Hence, if I was to debate this fact in person, I would indubitably argue that a direct mathematical equation to evaluate the actual communication yielded by the addition of one node cannot be rationally inferred, especially given the abstract level of the arguments presented in this editorial.

Feb. 15 2012 05:43 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Now, after being exposed to the on-line worldwide web (not quite the Internet) the Coalition for People laid me off and I spent ten years in the wilderness watching the world pass me by until my cousins Pam & Matt gave me a computer and modem. Now, I could go to the library or get as smart phone, but I know well what it feels like to be denied that access due to financial considerations and it definitely feels like one is being denied a right others have. It's similar to being unable to vote for lack of property, a standard we dispensed with generations ago!

Feb. 02 2012 06:09 PM
Bob Palais from Salt Lake City, UT

It was a very interesting piece. However, as Jeff M above also noted, it ended by quoting Metcalfe's Law as saying that the value of a network grows exponentially with the number of nodes, because every time a node is added, the number of links doubles.
That's not the case, Metcalfe is correct that it grows quadratically, because when the n+1st node is added, it adds n links to the L(n)=n(n-1)/2=n^2/2-n/2 links already there: 1,1+2=3,3+3=6,6+4=10,10+5=15,15+6=21, etc. Those are the triangular numbers, the 2nd diagonal of Pascal's triangle, that occur in many applications. The formula is animated here:

Keep up the great work on a great program!

Jan. 30 2012 12:33 AM
Jeff Moore from Jersey City, NJ

You're probably being deluged with persnickety comments about this, but I just can't help myself: in the above named story, an interviewee described Metcalfe's Law as stating that the value of a network doubles with every new user added. This sounded nonsensical, so I looked it up. Per Wikipedia (for what that may be worth), "Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system", which is not the same thing at all. I'd characterize this as still rife with hand-waving, but at least it seems to keep the magnitudes in a more plausible range.

Perhaps a new and useful law might be that one should fact-check mathematical formulations provided by lawyers.

Affectionately, Jeff M.

Jan. 28 2012 02:45 PM
clopha deshotel from Bridgeport CT

Hubris. Mary Shelly.

Jan. 28 2012 05:45 AM

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