Ms Sana Asif

Topics: History of the Internet, Compact Disc, United States Department of Defense Pages: 8 (2645 words) Published: October 12, 2013
The child stands upright holding on to objects & may walk holding on the child can crawl around, the child has fully developed eyesight can self feed with fingers and spoon can wave goodbye and point out, can cry when left with strangers from carer-separation anxiety, smiles for the main career & understands more of what is going on around them, begins there first words Is the Internet a weapon? This question may sound strange, maybe verging on conspiracy, but as the Age of the Internet or The Networked Society continues on its trajectory, we are indelibly lead to ask questions about and reinvent its “essence”. The streets are full of voices claiming that the Internet is like no other invention in the history of technology. These enthusiastic claims stem from a number of the Internet’s more esoteric qualities: it is media-independent, consisting of billions of links, sites, sights, sounds, endless avenues and twisting, morphing networks. Like a Polanyian organism, it reaches out in every direction, a rhizomatous mass of tentacles. It prophets proclaim: the Internet is a communications monolith. This image of the Internet leaves us with a sense of technological sublimity. How is one not overwhelmed by the spilled ink and words saturating us, pummelling us, with testimonies of its ultimate potentiality and possibilities. Are we not in the midst of the Great Techno-mind? Does this understanding of the Internet not embody many of the qualities of St. Anselm’s God? Yet, I claim that the Internet is a technological gestalt.[3] This other image is not the Democratic tencho-deity, but an ambivalent image of a military weapon. If the Internet is a techno-deity of infinite potential we must also admit that this ultimately derives from the potentiality of use, as well as potentials of ontology. That is to say, this Gestalt changes its appearance when we look at its differing potential uses. This point is banal enough, is it not? This paper asks these two questions: What is a weapon? Does the Internet qualify as one? My claim is that it is. But as you shall see, this claim is not as radical as it may seem. We must conclude that the Internet is a weapon-born technology, as Ian Hacking would call it, but it now serves more peaceful purposes.

The origins of the Internet, not that they could be traced back to the exact point of conception, can be followed at least as far as the doors of the United States Department of Defence. After the Soviet Union’s successful space program, after they successfully vomited Sputnik into space, American politicians became paranoid. The launch of the Sputnik 1 satellite showed the possibility of a nuclear strike from space. It also showed that the United States was no longer the world leader in aerospace technology. Administrators in the American government asked themselves several “if” questions: What if the Soviets launched nuclear weapons from space? If that happened, how would the US government maintain political control if telecommunications were knocked out? In 1957 the Department of Defense decided that advanced programmes were required to protect the nation from possible external threats. This is at least the important part of the story for us here. This required the collaboration of the nation’s biggest brains, which were located in “discrete pockets at universities and research institutions spread across the US.”[4] The Department of Defence spent $19,800 on December 6, 1967 and with that payment, the “Internet”, or something like it, was germinated. [5] The result was the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

In classified work for the U.S. Air force, Paul Baran was charged with the task of strengthening US telecommunications in the case of attack. In his solution, he proposed a communication network that allowed for information to be transferred between computers in important yet distant locations. What made this network special, and attractive, was its emphasis on...
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