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Oracle: China’s internet is designed more like an intranet

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The structure of the Chinese internet is unlike any other country, being similar to a gigantic intranet, according to research published by Oracle last week.

The country has very few connection points to the global internet, has zero foreign telcos operating within its borders, and Chinese-to-Chinese internet traffic never leaves the country.

All of these allow China to disconnect itself at will from the global internet and continue to operate, albeit with no connectivity to western services.

“Put plainly, in terms of resilience, China could effectively withdraw from the global public internet and maintain domestic connectivity (essentially having an intranet),” Oracle’s Dave Allen said. “This means the rest of the world could be restricted from connecting into China, and vice versa for external connections for Chinese businesses/users.”

Very few peering points

The most obvious sign that China is different from any other country in terms of how it structured its internet infrastructure is by looking at how the country is connected to the rest of the internet.

Normally, most countries allow local and foreign telecommunications providers to operate within each other’s borders. These companies interconnect their infrastructure at physical locations called Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), and all the internet is a giant mesh of IXP peering points interconnecting smaller telco networks.

But China doesn’t do this. Rather than allowing foreign telcos to operate within its borders, this market is completely off limits. Instead, local telcos extend China’s infrastructure to foreign countries, where they interlink with the global internet.

This way, Chinese ISPs form a closely-knit structure capable of exchanging traffic among themselves. All connections that need to reach foreign services must go through the country’s Great Firewall, reach foreign IXPs via closely selected telcos (China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile), and then land on the public internet.


Image: Oracle

This entire structure is very much akin to a corporate intranet, and has quite a few advantages.

First, China can impose its internet censorship program at will, without needing to account for foreign telcos operating inside its borders, and have to deal with their sensitive customer policies.

Second, China can disconnect from the internet whenever it detects an external attack, but still maintain a level of internet connectivity within its borders, relying solely on local telcos and data centers.

Internal traffic never leaves the country

But another advantage of this structure is that traffic meant to go from one Chinese user to another never leaves the country’s borders.

This is very different from most internet connections. For example, a user from an Italian town wanting to access their city’s website might find it surprising that their connection often goes through servers located in France or Germany before reaching the city’s website.

Such “weird” connection paths happen all the time on the internet, and in many countries, but not in China. Here, because local telcos peer primarily with each other and have a few tightly controlled outlets to the external world, internal traffic has no reason to leave the country.

China internal traffic

Image: Oracle

More “national intranets” to follow

The main advantage of this is that foreign intelligence services have very little insight into Chinese traffic, unless users connect to foreign services, and the traffic must cross China’s borders.

From a national security standpoint, this is ideal; however, only China has such a system in place — at least, for now.

“While China’s structure is unique in the way it is physically set up to be separate from the rest of the world, other countries have begun to adopt the theoretical approach to cyber sovereignty that China is promoting,” said Oracle’s Dave Allen.

One of the countries that’s trying to replicate this Chinese “national intranet” model is Russia. This March, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law giving the government expanded control over the internet. The law basically forces local internet providers to install devices that route Russian web traffic through government-run servers, where intelligence services are given free will to analyze the traffic.

Furthermore, the country has also been busy building a local backup of the Domain Name System (DNS), and has conducted tests to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet, as part of a planned experiment.

Russia may be a few years behind China, but the writing’s on the wall as to Kremlin’s intentions.

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Lincoln Model L100 Concept Is Hyper-Luxury Electrification With Wild Doors And A Disco Floor

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Certainly, the exterior of the Model L100 Concept is memorable. Lincoln describes it as “the tension between exuberant elegance and subtle restraint,” and it’s clear that aerodynamics have played a big role in deciding the overall silhouette. We’ve seen how that chase for slipperiness through the air can lead to electric cars looking like relatively amorphous blobs, though that’s something Lincoln manages to avoid.

Instead, it plays with light, glass, and scale. The Model L100 Concept hunkers low to the ground, with a glass panoramic roof and reverse-hinged doors to add drama as well as make entering and exiting more straightforward. Sensors track the owner’s approach, meanwhile, with the promise of a curated light show both outside and inside. Then, the doors — which extend all the way back to the rear bumper — gape outward, while the entire glass roof section lifts up.

The concept is finished with a satin digital ceramic tricot metallic paint, shifting between cool blue and soft white. Instead of the traditional chrome, frosted acrylic has been used as a more sustainable alternative. The whole floor of the cabin, meanwhile, is one big digital panel capable of showing shifting graphics, colors, and patterns. 

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Here’s How Drones Could Change The Medical Industry

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UKRI’s program also has major implications for the medical industry in particular, both in terms of its future sustainability as well as efficiency. University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) Director Phil Woodford told BBC the Future Flight Challenge could help reduce traffic, pollution, and transport sensitive medical supplies, all at the same time. The project’s first phase will start with drones traveling between the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Wesmorland, and Furness General Hospitals in Cumbria, using a dedicated 250ft airspace. Based on routes in Google Maps, the average driving distance of such trips more or less range from 20 to 40 miles.

The thing is, current means of delivering medical samples in Lancashire involves traveling to different hospitals several times a day using vans, taxis and motorcycles. Compared to such rudimentary means of travel, which Woodford said takes an hour or more depending on traffic, using medical drones are said to shorten the overall trip to just 15 minutes. Woodford argued that medical drone deliveries can make the process faster, safer, and doesn’t put unnecessary load on drivers and the environment. While drones have proven to be quite handy in space, properly integrating them on Earth’s busier air space is another story. Fortunately, the project is building a roadmap to tackle just that.

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Air Taxis Are About To Change The Future Of Travel

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An air taxi is basically a very small plane or helicopter that is capable of taking people on short trips. Unlike a regular taxi, an air taxi won’t be picking you up from or dropping you off at your front door. Instead, these aerial vehicles travel between pre-determined destinations that have purpose-built facilities. Do you need to get from the airport to the beach ASAP? Hop in an air taxi, and you’ll save a bit of vacation time. Along with Archer Aviation, several companies are developing the vehicles in anticipation of an industry boom; notable names include Bell Flight, Joby, Vertical Aerospace, and Wisk. 

Although air travel and the amount of fuel it uses is a favorite target of environmentalists, the chances are air taxis won’t find themselves in the firing line. While there probably won’t be enough of them available to impact road traffic, air taxis like the Joby Aero won’t really be adding to emissions, either. The Joby is electrically powered and can fly an amazing 150 miles on a single charge. In terms of price, taking an air taxi ride isn’t going to be cheap and it’s hard to see that changing. As with first-class flights, there will certainly be plenty who can afford the trips and will appreciate the convenience. However, most people will probably be sticking to standard taxis, at least for the foreseeable future.

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