We’ve Been Over a Year of Zoom Work Calls, the Netflix Marathon, and Most of Us Are Online for It Every thing. And the internet ain’t melted in goo, as some experts The start of the pandemic scares me.
Families, organizations, and individual websites have faced connection problems, but the basic pipeline of the Internet has mostly been together. It shows that technologists learned from past mistakes when the Internet did Smashed and built an adaptable system over decades.
As the United States begins to open back up, I wanted to take a moment to assess what went right and appreciate the people and technologies that have made our digital lives sustainable. Nerds, I salute you.
I called Justin Sherry, an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, to ask him why despite the catastrophic failure of the Internet Wild Spikes in Online Traffic during the pandemic. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg was also worried His company may not be able to keep up with everyone who visits Facebook’s apps.
Dr. Sherry gave me two explanations. First, she said, the Internet’s greatest vulnerability — its interconnectedness — is also its greatest strength. And second, digital services are cleverly designed for awkward and imperfect situations.
“The underlying infrastructure that makes everything work is adaptable to frequent failures, and it’s working great,” Dr. Sherry told me.
His first point is largely about the spread of cloud computing. Technique, Partially Popularized by Amazon, essentially letting any website or app carry out its digital operations on its own, rather than having to pay someone else to handle all or part of it.
There are negative sides to this approach. When a widely used cloud computing company has a problem – and it happens fairly regular – this Crash banks’ websitescrippled supermarket checkout, disable email And block people from accessing online news outlets, including the New York Times.
The root cause of this fragility of our Internet plumbing is also a force. Since most of the world’s digital services are controlled by giant computer systems such as Amazon and Google, many digital services can become more flexible in responding to spikes in demand and route around problems more easily.
Dr. Sherry also talked me through some of the other Internet design techniques that are needed to handle the large increase in web traffic.
He told me about a technology pioneer, from jacobson, who invented software to automatically slow down Internet data when online networks are turned off. He compared it to a freeway metering system, which limits the number of cars on ramps during rush hour so that roads are not completely blocked.
Dr. Sherry said his invention was a response to the unusable Internet in the mid-1980s, when networks mostly used by universities continued to break down when too many people were online at once. Crowd control algorithms are now widely used. And Web video companies have designed software on a similar basis to automatically downgrade Internet video quality when an Internet network is turned off.
Those technologies, Dr. Sherry said, are adaptations based on the principle that the Internet will never be perfect, and that everything we access online should be able to work in less than ideal conditions. “The overarching theme of all this is agility and adaptability,” she said.
Yes, Online services came to a standstill in many countries due to the pandemic Last year, more Internet service providers and website operators scrambled to add more computers and the capability to unclog networks. Our home networks and the personal Internet connections running through our homes are the most common points of failure. But again, the architecture of the wider Internet system is quite healthy.
I asked Dr. Sherry if we should pay more attention to what the Internet is about. Should we thank Van Jacobson for streaming Netflix so well when we ride in a moving car?
She said that not paying attention is a sign of a system working as intended. “I don’t know how my car works,” Dr. Sherry said. “I trust it.”
Before we leave …
Computers have the same flaws as humans: People train machines and so our biases can creep into artificial intelligence systems. My colleague Cade Metz writes about people and organizations that are Trying to identify and remove bias from artificial intelligence software Before it’s widely used for high-stakes decisions like housing, health care and who should get loans.
More Evidence of the Internet’s Age Verification Problem: US law effectively requires websites and apps to obtain parental permission before children under 13 can use online services, but the rules are difficult to enforce. An example: TikTok said this Deleted over seven million accounts In the early months of 2021 because the company believed they belonged to children under the age of 13, Axios reports. my colleagues wrote about last year Large percentage of TikTok users who are the youngest.
A phone company doing something clever?!?! T-Mobile is giving people test its mobile phone service Without signing up, The Verge reported. Those with a new iPhone can download an app and try the T-Mobile network along with their existing phone carrier for 30 days.
here is sivukk the walrus clapping, loud enough to be heard on the other side of the four-inch-thick glass walls of his tank. My colleague Sabrina Embler explained how and why Sivukak clapped.
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