P2P Networks: Are We Being Guinea Pigs?

Think of it as a holy grail — the ultimate computerized Trojan Horse:

  • A program which runs on a system built from the spare cycles of thousands (or millions) of computers.
  • A decentralized system so that no specific computer or sets of computers is necessary for the whole.
  • Redundancy programmed in — for the same reason as above.
  • Invisible so that you can’t tell that it’s running underneath your system.
  • Wanted by the people whose computer it runs on.

Sound familiar?

Should. Sounds very much like the peer-to-peer programs we have online — Grokster, Morphius, LimeWire, etc.

Think of it:

  • Today’s computers are powerful enough to run multiple programs at the same time. A few spare cycles won’t be missed, especially by people who use their Dells for web browsing and the occasional letter.
  • Snip Chicagoland from the internet, and the system works itself around. Remove an intriguing webpage, and there’s multiple mirrors posted (and archive.org).
  • When you have the same program multiplied over thousands of computers and a number of people willing to be centralized points, any one centralized point disappearing can be worked around. You could even have similar things going on in four or five different sections so that you could compare what’s going on.
  • With T1, T3 and Cable connections, there is no problem having things zoom through. There’s plenty of space for an undercover network to run — just add some speed and set it aside for nondiscript, discreet uses. You can even make it so that it doesn’t show up when you’re monitoring.
  • Three words: MP3 File Sharing.

Right now, we’re accepting these items into our computers with the hope of gaining something we would probably not otherwise care enough to buy, but I’m sure this won’t be the end. At some point it wouldn’t surprise me to find that newer computers need at some point to be connected to the net to work, or be updated, etc. At that point, you won’t need to make people want things to hook up on the internet — you can make them hook up just to run the damn thing, and thus make them complicit in whatever nefarious stuff is being done by Big Business, Government, etc.

As for the music companies, I have a smidgen (and only a smidgen) of sympathy for them; as I have the feeling they’re the unwilling patsies for all this. While one can readily argue they deserve the troubles they’ve suffered from file sharing (and I would whole-heartedly agree with this), I get the feeling they’re still being used by forces who want to control and profit from us.

And lest you think I’m just smoking out my ass, consider this: Napster was cracked down on only when a decentralized form of such networks was seen as workable. Now Grockster is made illegal — as there’s now enough of a want (not demand, as demand implies the willingness to pay) for these sort of networking programs (look at the download stats for Download.com; notice how LimeWire is always on top). Using this analogy, LimeWire will probably be declared illegal when there’s enough broadband penetration and secure enough, always-on programming to insure people will be hooked up whether they want to be or not.

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