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TECHNOLOGY REVIEW /
The State of the Internet
David Clark s approach to the prob-
lems of the Internet ("The Internet
Is Broken," December 2005/January
2006), to redesign its infrastructure,
bears a similarity to the medical profes-
sion s approach in the 1960s and 70s
to the "bubble boy" syndrome (severe
combined immunode ciency, or SCID).
Both are attempts to sterilize the envi-
ronment so that the immune-de cient
subject can survive. It did not work then
for those patients, and it won t work
now for the Internet s security.
The medical profession today takes
care of SCID patients by giving them
new immune systems through bone
mar row transplants. We should be
looking to do the same for our data,
so it can travel throughout the existing
Internet infrastr ucture.
Frank J. Sauer
While I fully support the optimization
of the Internet, creating a worldwide
tracking infrastructure that people can t
opt out of will only ensure that govern-
ments can keep infor mation from reach-
ing their people, quashing dissent.
Also, adding complexity to routers
and other infrastructure devices will
only ensure that more vulnerabilities
in the additional code will expose even
more devices to malware attacks and
slow down our communications.
Finally, the end point should be
designed for the security it requires.
The Internet shouldn t be the pri-
mary source of user security; the host
David Talbot s Internet story is, of
course, right on. But as I read it, I could
not help editing it in my mind, substi-
tuting the ter m "Microsoft Windows"
wherever "the Internet" appeared.
Unfortunately, the ubiquity of highly
v ulnerable Windows has left a good
part of the world at a risk that s per-
haps almost as dangerous and wide-
spread as the risk posed by a broken
Internet. Many of the obser vations
about the Inter net made by Clark and
Talbot would apply just as well to Win-
dows. I hope someone will soon detail
Science in China
Horace Freeland Judson doesn t heed
his own admonition at the beginning
of "The Great Chinese Experiment"
(December 2005/January 2006). He
acknowledges that "even sophisticated
and knowledgeable Westerners bring
ideological preconceptions to their
view of China" and rightly points out
that Westerners have often made the
erroneous assumption that laissez-faire
capitalism "will inevitably lead to dem-
ocratic reforms." For the last 15 years,
China has had a booming economy
but practices neither capitalism nor
democracy as we understand it.
But then Mr. Judson spends much
of his article explaining how the Chi-
nese science ethos, with its attachment
to what he calls a "Confucian" respect
for elders and seniority, discourages
the development of a questioning cul-
ture, a barrier to good science. But to
the degree that Chinese scientists fol-
low Confucian practices, these practices
are not strictly about scienti c method
and what Chinese scientists actually do
in the lab. It is clear to me---a China
watcher even before my MIT days---
that China is nding its own route to
scienti c success, just as it found its
own path to economic growth.
Lisa A. Suits
The realization that China needed
to change in response to Western
encroachment dates no later than 1842,
when China lost humiliatingly in a war
against the British Empire over the
issue of British sale of opium in China.
Then, as now, China was guided by a
myth: that the key to a modern China
is simply science and technology.
One notable attack on that myth
was the cry for democracy and science
made during the May 4 student upris-
ing of 1919. Many founding fathers of
the Chinese Communist Party, which
later founded the People s Republic of
China in 1949 (the current China as
we know it), were among the leaders
of that uprising. Unfortunately, since
then, most Chinese politicians seem
to have forgotten the foresight and the
causes of their forefathers.
Changes at Technology Review
From the December 2005/January
2006 issue: "Technology Review has
been a print magazine with a website;
from now on, we will be an electronic
publisher that also prints a magazine."
That same issue s cover reads, "The
Internet Is Broken." Such masterful
use of irony deser ves an award!
Costa Mesa, CA
The editor responds:
Thank you, but we re sure we don t
deser ve one. We reported on shortcom-
ings of the Internet as it is now con-
stituted, and we described various
proposals to fix them. We are confident
they will succeed and that the future
Technology Review will happily exist
on a reconstituted Internet.
Correction: The caption on page 48
of the December 2005/January 2006
photo essay "Dirty Oil" should have
read "roughly 30 cubic meters of natu-
ral gas per barrel of recovered oil," not
"roughly 300 cubic meters."
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