So, right now, we have a unique opportunity.
Whether you realize it or not, we are currently building a new layer of internet on top of the existing one. Because we have too many internet-enable devices. You may have heard of IPv6 already, and how we’re planning to migrate to its 128bit addresses from 32bit IPv4. Probably the vast majority of this work hasn’t been done. (This site, for instance, hasn’t been configured for IPv6 yet – but that’s likely to change shortly.) But that’s what makes this moment magical. Admittedly, it’s quite a long moment – IPv6 began in 2006 or so.
This isn’t exactly a “migration” though. Right now, just about every internet enabled device at least has the capacity to operate on both networks. And there are translations that let IPv6 users network with IPv4. And this is the perfect chance for us to develop a second internet, inside the greater internet, that’s exclusively for kids.
Now. You may be asking, “Okay. But why would we want to?”
Because for a few decades, our children have had access to The Untempered Schism of humanity’s darkest side. They’ve been able to learn anything they could think of about our hatred, our rage, our bigotry and our phobias – from gay to xeno. And the results speak for themselves. What we end up with are maladaptive malcontented maladroits. Mass murderers. Misogynistic misanthropes. Morally misconfigured monsters. With Boomers and GenX, this effect is still subtle. From telegraph, to radio, to telephone, to television, the exponential curve was still a bit slow, and in its infancy. But now that x > 1, with Catalanians and Millennials, we’re seeing some seriously fucked up shit. It is this cesspool – which, in the interests of free speech, I have to protect to some degree – that has poisoned so many who were so young, and has sent the culture reeling backwards like a sprinter on a bungee. But the answer doesn’t have to be binary. “Do we squelch free speech or not?” How about neither. We just separate it from the spaces where our children learn and grow – from where they spend their formative years.
We already do this to some extent – many of you will have seen the iceberg image depicting the current effective internet layers. It’s basically:
||Google, Wiki, Bing, Etc.
||Academic, Multilingual, Financial, Governmental, Social Media, Scientific, Legal, Medical, Etc.
||Illegal, Encrypted, Protests, Trafficking, Ultraprivate, Etc.
I propose we use the deprecated IPv4 infrastructure, and repurpose it to add another layer to the top – and create a kindernet where children can explore a version of cyberspace that is decidedly more controlled and refined.
||YouTube Kids, Kiddle, NickJr, SimpleWiki, Starfall, Etc.
With the dramatically reduced traffic and use post-migration, it will be possible (with the help of artificially intelligent crawlers) to identify and blacklist adult content providers who attempt to operate in kinderspace, and depending on what kinds of rules/laws were broken, to either revoke kindernet access, impose a fine, or charge them criminally.
It won’t be possible until migrations have all taken place, and at least 75% – 80% of networked devices run on IPv6 by default. But soon, we’re going to have a choice, about what to do with Cyberspace 1.0. Do we just build on top of it and let it fade away like so much of our outdated infrastructure has over the millennia? Or do we repurpose it for the good of humanity? I think the answer is clear, and I want very much for us to have this conversation on a global scale. If we want to stay civilized, while also allowing for the existence of the uncivilized, we need to make a space for children to be saturated by and absorb those more noble values, rather than letting them wander into those cacophonous echochambers of immorality that are, at present, far too easy to find.