[e2e] end of interest

David P. Reed dpreed at reed.com
Mon Apr 21 06:52:55 PDT 2008

Rick - I'm clearly not explaining myself.

rick jones wrote:
> "The network" (stack, intranet, whatnot) is much more 
> critical/valuable to Major Co's customers these days then say in 
> '88/'89 when I and my colleagues were able to drop VJ Congestion 
> control into MPE/XL TCP "just because it is better."  It was also 
> quite easy to demonstrate just how much better things were - and as 
> part of that we (the developers at Major Co) were able to look at the 
> research "those lunatics" :)  published without using our customers as 
> experimental subjects.
I was certainly not suggesting that any Major Company should experiment 
on its customers.  If you read my point carefully, it was suggesting 
that Major Company has gone much farther than that (as did AT&T).   It 
is prohibiting or massively limiting experimentation *by* its customers 
- which now includes the research community.

And further, there are entities (perhaps not Major Company itself) who 
believe that experimentation at scale is highly dangerous.  So 
dangerous, it must be banned, blocked, and treated as harmful, no matter 
what experiment is involved.

This banning/blocking/raising alarms is part of a pattern that has a 
side effect of requiring that all innovators must buy permission from 
Major Company to do experimentation in a large area of potential interest.

It also blocks new "start ups" that would compete with Major Company, 
but I will leave that one for the political arena here.   I am focused 
only on the potential for free scientific experimentation.

Now if the risk were truly of the form where society suggests we require 
level P4 confinement in biological labs (trenches with biopoisons around 
negative pressure chambers, only biohazard suits allowed), I think the 
crowd of "security zealots" who feel we must ban all variants of TCP 
from all clients, and definitely ban non-compliant IP protocol numbers 
might have a point.

But such risks don't seem to be very likely.  Leading me to be 
suspicious that a large part of the problem of Major Company's market 
power and unwillingness to allow free experimentation with the lower 
level of its network stacks is less focused on protecting *its* 
customers, and more focused on extending control over a larger and 
larger field of endeavor.

In behaving this way, it is acting as many claim any profit-making 
company should - not morally, not based on social good, not even based 
on doing "good science".  Just profit for its investors.  This need not 
be the case for its employees - many are very good people.   But they 
don't get rewarded *by the company* for being good people.  They get 
rewarded *only* for making more money for the investors.

And while sad, I don't personally believe that Google, Microsoft, or any 
company is capable of "not being evil", nor are they capable of 
"supporting good science".  It's not their nature.  If you work for them 
(and I do, since some of my work is sponsored by them), it's important 
to accept that any focus on social good is one's personal 
responsibility, and company requirements do not give one an "out" or 
make one's work safe from criticism for not recognizing the limits the 
company's requirements place on doing "good science" or "socially 
responsible engineering".

Our professional organizations (IEEE and ACM) place requirements on us, 
*as professionals*, that go beyond our corporate masters' natural and 
amoral state of greed.  The word "professional" is a class recognized by 
society as having a legal responsibility beyond drawing a paycheck and 
making money.

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