A New World of Terror

What technology can and cannot prevent

6 min read

Staggering though they were, the coordinated attacks that left at least 5000 dead in New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania were a long-expected escalation in the deadliness of terrorist operations. Experts had been awaiting with dread the day when technology would let terrorists boost their murderous yield from a few hundred deaths to a number well into the thousands. That day arrived last 11 September literally out of the blue, a cloudless late-summer morning in the northeast United States.

The shock was the way the atrocity was carried out. Analysts were expecting that sophisticated weapons of mass destruction would take terrorists to the next level in their abominable craft. Hardly anyone foresaw that meticulous planning and ruthlessness, by exploiting an air security system gone terribly lax, could turn several airliners into a destructive force as lethal as a small atomic bomb or a perfectly-deployed chemical weapon–and with comparative ease and at a tiny fraction of the cost.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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