The battle for the internet will take a whole new meaning come the new year. With the US FCC ruling to abolish the concept of Net Neutrality, 2018 will see moves by both opponents and proponents alike. Internet service providers (ISP), may start to implement throttling on different internet services, as well as introduce the concept of “internet packages” to consumers. Content providers, large and small alike, may need to start making deals with ISPs on how their content is treated on the internet highway. This may then translate to how the consumer experiences the internet. On the other hand, supporters of net neutrality can expect to hunker down and try to hold the line, as the FCC ruling is challenged in both the American judicial and legislative branches.
Regardless of the outcome, the final fate to net neutrality will be determined in 2018. And the decisions and compromises made in the run up to its conclusion will have a lasting impact on the internet as we know it.
During the tail end of 2017, the field of machine learning experienced a huge stride. AlphaZero, a machine learning algorithm developed by Google’s DeepMind group had just beaten Stockfish, chess’ best computer playing program. Out of 100 matches AlphaZero won 28, tied 72, and lost none, after only 4 hours actually “learning” the game. This paves the way for data scientists to give machines the ability to learn and self-improve. Imagine, having to only explain the basic rules of something to a machine, leaving, and then coming back to find it having completely mastered that field in only a few hours.
While some would argue that this paves the way for the inevitable “Skynet”, proponents to machine learning will counter that this could lead to advancements in a variety of different fields. Imagine a computer being given medical records of cancer patients, and having it identify the best methods of treatment. The course of machine learning may be fraught with risks, but its impact on society in the coming years is becoming increasingly hard to ignore.
Who at this point has not heard of BitCoin? The infamous cryptocurrency that, as of writing, has skyrocketed by over 371% over the last 3 months. What is also important to note however, is that BitCoin is not alone. Other popular cryptocurrencies are also on the rise. Ethereum (+200%), Dash (+275%), Ripple (+341%), and IOTA (+642%), are all other currencies that have shot up in valuations in the last few months along with BitCoin.
2017 has been fraught with security breaches, and there is no indication that that trend will stop anytime soon. The Equifax and Uber data breaches revealed just how susceptible we all are to malevolent hackers. Along the same vein, the revelation that Uber could be employing CIA-esque tactics to monitor its rivals also shows how corporations and large organized groups can violate our privacy on the internet. This serves as a similar wakeup call as the NSA surveillance program. That while the internet can be a tool to benefit society, it can also be used to violate our privacy.
The new year
Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year!