Wednesday, March 19, 2008

GlobalPedia 2028 Entry: The GlobalNet

The GlobalNet is the interconnected worldwide network of public and private computer networks administered by an international consortium of government and corporate administrators. The GlobalNet transmits data by packet switching using the Advanced Internet Protocol (AIP). Built as an upgrade to the original Internet infrastructure, the GlobalNet is the main delivery mechanism for 95% of the information disseminated on the planet. All media from television to radio, is delivered via the GlobalNet, as well as private media such as electronic mail, chat, telephone, World Wide Web pages, financial transactions, avatar interaction and most forms of communication in the civilized world. Only three countries in the world do not connect legally to the GlobalNet because of a refusal to adhere to the standards set forth by the GlobalNet Consortium: The Congo, the Thai Separatist State of Isan, and Palestine.


The Internet was initially constructed as ARPANET, a means for individual departments of the United States government to communicate in case a catastrophic nuclear war left most traditional communication channels unusable. Its widespread commercial use during the 1990’s caused the Internet to expand at an exponential rate, until it had reached a saturation point in late 2012. Rampant lawlessness like media piracy, pornography, identity theft and sedition caused many of the UN member nations to seek international regulation of the network. Multinational media corporations welcomed the regulation, and the GlobalNet Consortium of both public and private interests was formed in 2013 to build the new, regulated network.

The Consortium’s charter outlined a series of laws to which nations must adhere in order to gain access to the new network, dubbed the GlobalNet. Nations were free to enforce penalties for the GlobalNet laws on their citizens in accordance with their local laws as sovereign nations. Some nations, such as China, made headlines by instituting the death penalty for all GlobalNet infringements, while most just proscribed serious prison time. Repeated offenses by citizens of a nation without proper punishment could result in that nation’s access to the GlobalNet being completely rescinded, rendering the nation financially isolated from the rest of the world. The GlobalNet embargo of Venezuela in 2018 was a precursor to the Chavez War between Venezuela and the United States, and the Venezuelan’s lack of modern communication devices was the reason the war lasted less than two weeks.

The upgrade of the world’s Internet backbones to the higher speed GlobalNet connections was completed in 2017, with Laos being the final country to be brought up to the GlobalNet standard. The Consortium committed to continual infrastructure upgrades every two years, and has so far kept to that schedule. The 2027 United States budget crisis caused the only upgrade interruption.

GlobalNet Law

The GlobalNet charter lists twelve infractions as major GlobalNet crimes. An individual committing any of these crimes may be prosecuted by his own nation’s police force, or by the GlobalNet Police Force (GPF) regardless of whether the infringement was confined locally or crossed international boundaries. The GPF (known colloquially by hackers as ‘The Global PigFuckers’), is recruited from the cybercrimes division of police forces around the world. It exists as a cadre of computer operatives on constant online patrol, as well as physical units with jurisdiction in any of the signatory nations. It is not unusual for hackers caught violating GlobalNet laws to be pursued on their home soil by both GPF and local authorities. While the GPF are supposed to adhere to local standards of evidentiary procedures, including search and seizure laws and human rights, it is not uncommon for GPF operatives to be accused of excessive force and violating local statutes. Accountability for those violations is spotty at best, as many nations would rather accept the violations than risk losing GlobalNet access.

The most prosecuted GlobalNet crimes (known as The Big Twelve) are:

  • Data theft (from an individual)
  • Child pornography (trading, collecting or possessing)
  • Industrial espionage (data theft or destruction involving corporate assets)
  • Cyberterrorism (data theft or destruction involving government assets)
  • Murder (victims are only individuals who use interface jacks – there have so far been no reported prosecutions)
  • Cyberviolence (more common than murder but still confined to those using interface jacks)
  • Destruction of physical property by virtual means (for example: causing stoplights to malfunction leading to automobile accidents)
  • Sale, possession or transfer of stolen data
  • Intellectual piracy (mass distribution of stolen data)
  • Embezzlement
  • Sedition

The GlobalNet was initially built on top of the Internet backbone, but has since upgraded far beyond the original capacity. The 1 TB/s data transfer rate was surpassed in 2022, and end users in the most advanced countries now enjoy speeds 100 times greater than that for the same relative cost. In developed nations such as the United States, and most of Europe, GlobalNet hardware is built into most dwellings as an appliance, though this existing hardware is upgradeable.

The GlobalNet transfers data using the Advanced Internet Protocol (AIP), a technology standard created in 2017. The standard has been continuously updated to version 7.7 as of this writing.

The most common GlobalNet interfaces are traditional keyboard and remote pointer combination or the more expensive voice-activated interfaces. In 2015, Japanese researcher Kensuke Takamura created an interface device called the SukeMura Plug™, more commonly known as the interface jack. His decades of research focusing on the man-machine interface had led him to attempt direct control of computer devices via mental commands. The interface jack started life as an unwieldy helmet of electrodes that allowed crude input on a computer, but Takamura pushed the device further. He found a method to stimulate sensory input and output as well. The plug not only allowed the user to control a computer, it allowed them to project their consciousness into the binary data stream itself. At first, the user could only project into a local computer, but by 2017, Takamura had managed to project a “NetBody” into the GlobalNet, freeing the operator’s consciousness to travel anywhere a computer was connected.

Fearful of corporate stranglehold on what he considered a fantastic information-gathering device, Takamura released the source code and schematics for the jack onto the GlobalNet rather than let his employers control the device’s distribution. The Takamura espionage trial in 2018 grabbed massive headlines. He was tried and convicted of 3,000 counts of industrial espionage, intellectual piracy and transfer of stolen data and sentenced to life imprisonment. His subsequent suicide in 2019 has always been considered suspicious by conspiracy theorists, and the phrase “getting Takamuraed” has become slang for being oppressed by big corporations with trumped up charges.

The impact of the release of the interface jack was widespread. Hackers everywhere began adopting the device as their preferred means of interface. Some built their own homebrew SukeMara Plug, while most bought the thousands of commercial versions that became available before Takamura’s trial was even complete.

From the Plug to the Crèche

The GlobalNet crèche was released commercially in 2022. The crèche is typically a pill-shaped sensory deprivation chamber, containing a very fast, easily moddable computer that connects the user to the GlobalNet through their SukaMara Plug. While anyone with a SukaMara Plug can connect to the GlobalNet through any computer, the crèche is a specialist means of interface used by those who desire speed and processing power.

Though both jack and crèche connections transfer a person’s consciousness through the plug, the use of an interface jack causes the brain to have to process both physical sensory input as well as the input coming from the jack. Most users who have experienced both types of connections report the interface jack or “remote connection” is slow. Their NetBody’s reaction times are sluggish, and they can utilize fewer programs on remote nodes.

The crèche, however, completely encapsulates the user in an environment designed to deprive the senses of any physical input whatsoever. The user is encased in the darkened chamber, his body immersed in a saline solution, with a waste catch attached to the genitals, oxygen supplied through a breathing mask and ears plugged. Many crèches are now equipped with intravenous nutrition dispensers, allowing hackers to stay in their crèches for days on end. These models also contain electrodes that stimulate the user’s muscles with tiny electric shocks to combat muscle atrophy. With the brain freed from physical sensations, the NetBody is imbued with fantastic agility, as well as a greater capacity to store and transfer programs and data. Though the health risks of prolonged sensory deprivation have not been explored, crèche hackers are typically known for their bad hygiene, pale yellowed skin, sunken eyes and malnourished appearance.

The NetBody

The virtual manifestation of the “jacked in” is called an avatar or NetBody. In its purest form, without any ornamental textures attached, NetBody’s are described as being silver in color. Though most are vaguely humanoid, the NetBody can be consciously shaped into whatever form the user can program, flowing like liquid mercury. The NetBody can have textures attached to it, making it appear photorealistic, or any form of artistic style imaginable. Doing so will slow the NetBody’s reaction times. As such, most hardcore hackers eschew this ornamentation for performance.

The NetBody does provide the user sensory input such as touch, sight, hearing and smell, all dependent on the amount of sensory information coded into the NetBody’s present location. The more sensory information a net location provides, the more costly that location due to the demands for processing power and bandwidth. Called NetNodes, these locations are more often than not rented servers rather than individually owned local machines or crèches. Only larger corporations own and maintain their own NetNodes, and these nodes are often the targets of hacker attacks.

Arena Battles

Rumors persist of an undocumented set of NetNodes called the Arena Circuit. These illegal and unconfirmed nodes are the sites of fantastic battles between hacker avatars. This virtual bloodsport is illegal according to the GlobalNet charter because fights between NetBody’s can have serious effects on the user. Injuries to a NetBody are often felt in the user’s physical body. The loss of a Net limb can manifest itself as a bruise or worse physical injury. Abrupt destruction of a NetBody has caused nosebleeds, migraines, internal bleeding and in rare cases, aneurysms causing comas and death. No solid data exists on the numbers of hacker deaths related to their NetBody’s destruction. Several GlobalNet committees have been appointed to study the problem, but none have so far acknowledged that death is anything more than extremely rare, random events unrelated to GlobalNet use.

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