Series 19 | Part 3: How The Internet Cultivates Hope

Foreign Policy

Since the attack in Manchester, UK Prime Minister Theresa May stated that the internet should be censored somewhat in order to prevent fora for extremists to collaborate, plan, and even purchase materials to commit acts. The first step in any battle is to cut the enemy’s lines of communication. I got that. But by doing so, you’re irreparably harming all other law-abiding citizens. By not shutting down individual websites based on activity but censoring whole swaths of the Internet itself, you’re doing the same thing that Trump’s travel ban sought to do. You’re punishing everyone for the wrongdoings of the few. Now, May’s comments were quickly muted by her opponents so that’s good. However, over here in the U.S., the national security argument is still alive. There are arguments about ransomware and other acts otherwise labeled cyberterror.

While I agree that there are major issues with online communication between people who wish to do harm, I believe that any cyberdefense team dedicated to their work will find a way that doesn’t harm citizens. That said, there’s a far greater reality that is beyond the scope of this article that I believe is the center of most of the attacks committed against us, which is that the actions of terrorists, such as these online acts, are intended to entangle everyday citizens such that there is no way to harm the terrorists without harming the citizens. If you’re familiar with my other writings, you know that this process of engagement and containment, which I summarize as one thing called entanglement, is the operative goal of terror organizations as well as governments of whole countries like Iran, North Korea, China, and others. It’s very possible that, via cyber attacks, these groups and governments have found a way to harm us without firing a single bullet. However, it remains to be seen, and would be highly classified enough to remain unseen, whether this threat is, in fact, existential in nature. The much more likely scenario is that the national security argument is a total lie motivated by billions of potential profits. To think otherwise would be to think that corporations and the military are somehow aligned in their goals and are also able to work together, which is an asinine thought.


Before I became a writer, I worked in business. Miserable. I won’t go into detail–I don’t want to–but I did graduate with an MBA last year from one of the top MBA programs in the United States. Just prior to matriculating, they had what they called the MBA Institute. Pearson Education came on campus and judged our performance in a 48-hour case competition in which we had to take their education materials and put them online in the best way possible.

Our team did not make it to the final round. However, during the Q&A just prior to that, one of the judges pointed out to me that, if we do make it to the final round, that I should remember my answer and expand greatly upon it because it was outstanding. All I said was that, with just an ethernet cord, Pearson Education could be the first to enter markets in rural areas in Africa, not to mention many places in Asia, including burgeoning Myanmar, where most of the West hasn’t really gone yet. I bolstered this by saying there are many public-private partnerships with for example Coca-Cola that train locals in impoverished countries and then employ them at such companies as Coca-Cola and others. It’s the rawest form of an innovation system in which the companies and the people and the education system work together to give people skills that they need to get jobs at companies created to provide what the people want.

Apparently, they liked the idea that you didn’t need to do anything except ensure that schools have a steady internet connection. All that’s necessary to educate people around the world and, if you’re interested in making money, to profit from such education services, is to have a steady internet connection. However, you can’t drop a server in the middle of a small town in Africa or Southeast Asia. Therefore, if there’s a non-profit serving these countries, suddenly, to provide services, their costs are going to spike and they’ll be unable to afford it. So, what’s going to happen? China will educate them. Sound good, Mr. Pai? How about you, Trump? With the Internet, everybody wins in every way, and you want to take that away? Idiot.

Now, let’s focus on what’s even easier to understand: kids learn in different ways. There have been so many innovations in education in the past 10 years. Yes, for-profit online colleges are a joke, but even top-tier colleges are now offering the same education in an online setting. Some have even been proven by employers, students, and education scholars to be just as good as education in the classroom. More importantly, young kids benefit from online education. Some schools give iPads to even kindergarten students to use in the classroom. They’re more engaged, these multiple forms of teaching reach more students, they learn more quickly and retain more, and they’re happier. Even greater, kids with disabilities are also learning. There’s so much that the Internet can do for kids’ education, and I guarantee Ajit Pai and Betsy DeVos want to ensure that only private schools can afford fastlane access to innovative pedagogy that helps everyone instead of just the typical student. If you do that, you’re hurting kids, making them less competitive worldwide, and you’re hurting the economy because, surprise surprise, you can’t do very well at your job if you don’t have the skills to do it.

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