[Viewpoint]A changing Internet

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[Viewpoint]A changing Internet

It is uncertain whether we will continue to see record-breaking singers, such as Seo Tae-ji and Kim Gun-mo, rise in popularity in future decades. That is because the Korean pop music industry, like the recording industry worldwide, has been on a constant downward slide in recent years.
Since Jo Sung-mo, one of the most famous male singers in Korea, ranked No. 1 in record sales in 2000 with his chart-topping ballad “Ashinayo,” SG Wannabe, a three member Korean pop group that debuted on 2004, sold no more than 199,900 records with their hit song “Arirang” last year. Even Wonder Girls, a girl group who drew a huge following with their hit song, “Tell Me,” which hit No. 1 on various television and Internet charts, sold only 48,000 records.
The major culprits behind the general sales slump for the CD market are as follows: a rapid increase in the number of people who prefer listening to MP3 files and rampant music piracy. We can also witness an emerging broadcasting trend in entertainment circles. That is, singers highly depend on dancing or the gift of gab rather than trying to develop their musical skills.
The same may be said of the film market. People have begun enjoying films on their PCs free of charge via the Internet. Unless the government takes appropriate steps to protect intellectual property rights, it is certain that artists will lose their enthusiasm for creative production.
The Internet was originally launched with the name “ARPAnet” for the purpose of facilitating the process of information sharing among research organizations under the United States Department of Defense in 1969. This early network can be compared to a new winding highway. In the early 1980s, TCP/IP, a standard regulation for promoting information transportation, was devised to cope with a rapidly increasing number of users. However, it was a simple regulation, sort of like a “Keep right” notice on the street. Since then, with the expansion of the information superhighway, the number of Internet subscribers worldwide has exceeded 1.2 billion. Because the number of users is increasing at breakneck speed, many problems have been pointed out regarding the Internet.
First, the next-generation Internet is required to deliver information swiftly to prepare for the the coming decade. The speed of the Internet when it is provided to our homes is 10 megabytes per second at maximum. This allows users to enjoy a high-quality digital film based on real-time streaming services.
People do not have to download in advance. However, it is impossible to do something else online while watching a film at the same time because of limited capacity.
If congestion occurs in the path of information telecommunication, the Internet will suddenly become slow, as if it were a fool. In addition, users cannot enjoy watching films, as they stop frequently.
If a family wishes to conduct online business such as watching a film, playing an online game and so on, the speed of the Internet must be guaranteed for more than 100 mega-bytes.
Second, the government should move forward with resolving the issue of information security. The current Internet runs based on protocol that was arranged when there were fewer users.
At that time, no one tried to steal information and disseminate computer viruses to someone else’s PC. There weren’t even illegal spam advertisements. In addition, it was beyond our imagination that someone would try to make illegal copies of another’s artistic work.
With the rapid increase in the number of Internet subscribers, problems are arising that people never imagined. It is as if we were seeing transportation regulations agreed on when roads were still in their early days being applied to super highways today.
It is high time for us to join forces and take protective measures for the promotion of information and international properties. The government is required to overhaul the Internet across the board, as if it were building a new highway. The measure should go beyond the simple boundary of maintaining the road little by little. Here, it should include social regulations in addition to technologies.
Third, we need to focus on “mobility.” The market for so-called third-generation mobile communication is booming. People love to see their counterparts’ faces and while talking on the go. Now, the mobile Internet, called the 3.5 generation, is on the market.
Korea succeeded in developing “WiBro” technologies and setting them as a global standard, which allows people to enjoy the Internet at 20 mega speed, like a car running at a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
The speed can enable people to enjoy a film in a moving car. Furthermore, the development of fourth-generation communication is still under way, which enables people to watch films via a wireless Internet of 100 megabytes on a high-speed train moving at 300 kilometers per hour.
Such changes are expected to come to us within a decade. We need to bear 5 billion Internet users in mind when preparing for the drastic changes in the Internet market. Then Korea will emerge as a leading society equipped with a rapid and secure Internet. By protecting intellectual property, we sincerely look forward to fostering another Seo Tae-ji or Kim Gun-mo.
However, it is difficult to predict what kind of Internet world will face us in three decades. Who knew that the Internet, which seemed to zigzag up a steep slope 30 years ago, would pose a threat to singers? Internet, where are you going? Quo vadis Internet?

*The writer is a chair-professor for the Department of Bioinformatics and Artificial Intelligence at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Lee Kwang-hyung
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