tv The Communicators CSPAN April 6, 2015 8:00am-8:31am EDT
mosco who joins us from boston. where did the term cloud come from and what exactly is the cloud? >> well there is debate about the origins of the term but it mainly derives from the network die grams that telecommunications engineers drew and they tended to identify the nodes in the network generally location, cities, towns, in the form of a cloud. so the diagram to interconnect the group of clouds with telephone lines. so that's where cloud comes from. though there is some debate. more importantly, you asked what is the cloud and again there are many different definitions but when you boil it all down, the cloud is a system for storing, processing and
distributing data, information emails apps and software. companies that operate cloud systems then provide individuals and organizations with access to the data on an on-demand basis for a fee. so the customer saves storage space and has access to data from anywhere, any device. and, companies, make money by providing that data and, services derived from it. >> is there a fiscal location of the cloud or many physical locations? >> i would say there are many physical locations because the cloud tends to be located in many non-cloud-like looking structures, data centers it. these are enormous buildings
located all over the world that are filled with, in some cases tens of thousands of servers or computers that are that store the data, process it and these data centers located the world and i and i mean everywhere. one of the best places to locate a data center is in a cool climate. so canada and scandinavia have data centers because the servers need to be kept cool. but they're located everywhere. i would say if there is a fiscal location -- physical location that these data centers themselves are interlinked by data satellite to create a global interconnected network of cloud data centers.
peter: why have clouds developed? >> well, there are a number of reasons. one of the reasons is that they provide an efficient storage facility for the rapidly growing store of the world's data. certainly as, as individuals it's difficult to contain all of our data on one computer and for companies, there are enormous potential savings. zoom are being realized. so we're in the early days of the cloud. because as one person described it, if you want another definition of cloud computing it is an opportunity to outsource all of your i.t. operations. in other words the cloud company becomes the i.t. department for corporations around the world. so there are certainly storage
savings and cost savings for individuals but especially for companies. and governments as well have been moving to the cloud rapidly, especially the u.s. government. because it offers the kinds of savings that corporations have begun to enjoy in, in i.t. operations. >> well you write in your book, "to the cloud," that 36% of all data will be stored in the cloud by 2016. now is this another trend and it will last for another 10, 20 years and then we'll move to something else? we went through a pc trend. we went through a central computer trend. >> right. right. you know it is always hard to peer into the future, and try as i might to stay ahead of the curve i think the cloud is on
the edge now. it is beginning to grow rapidly and yes, i believe that the cloud will expand. now, again the u.s. is the leading cloud nation but certainly china and europe are picking up a full head of steam to move to the cloud. now that isn't to say that the transition will be a smooth one because as i also described in "to the cloud," there are serious problems associated with cloud computing. but we'll get to that. to get back to your question yes, i think it's a trend. what may be the next trend. we may have a minute or two to talk about that later on is likely to be the connection between the cloud, big data, which is analyzing all of the data in cloud systems and what's called the internet of things
which puts intelligence in everyday items people, now refer to the talking refrigerator or the intelligent car. so what i see say, 10 or 15 years from now, is the, the marriage of the cloud big data analytics and the internet of things. >> professor mosco you mentioned the u.s. government. how does the u.s. government currently use the cloud? >> quell well, peter it is primarily the military and intelligence arms of the u.s. government. for example the national security agency building one of the world's largest cloud data centers in a secure mountain facility in utah. it's doing so because it's surveillance needs require that
degree of storage and security. the u.s. government's chief information officer three four years ago ordered u.s. government agencies to move to the cloud and as a result, even civilian agencies are turning to cloud services. so it's primarily though military and intelligence. there is an interesting u.s. government program run by, what's called the office of the digital humanities which provides funding for academic research that makes use of the cloud in big data to advance research into humanities. that is the drop in the bucksket of a -- bucket of a primarily
military and surveillance operation. peter: are there privacy and security concerns, particularly when it comes to some of the military information being stored away from -- >> yes. well that's, that's one of the prime problems that i address in "to the cloud." one of the main reasons i decided to write this book, while there has been some research on the cloud and big data, much of what gets published is either technical, here is how to build a cloud, or promotional, why we should all jump on the bandwagon. what my book does is address some critical questions that we need to face and that might in fact retard the development of cloud computing and one of these is the question of privacy and surveillance. there are serious privacy implications. partly because so system is
fully secure. and as we've seen from celebrated cases of the nude photos of jennifer lawrence and others hacked in apple's version of, from apple's version of the cloud, there are some real concerns. hacking is widespread and companies, which tend to be reluctant to report cases of hacking, have led to an underestimation of the amount of hacking that is taking lace. place. companies fear people won't do business with them if they know their servers are not secure. but hacking is the issue and it is also the case that i emphasize in the book that it is not just the isolated hacker who creates privacy and surveillance problems. it's essentially a core element of the police plan of most cloud
companies to carry out surveillance. you asked earlier about the incentive to move to the cloud. well, one of them is the opportunity to profit from the data of customers stored in the cloud. facebook, for example, is utterly dependent on its ability to analyze and market information on its subscribers as are many other customers. so, there is a kind of a corporate surveillance that's within the law and, legitimate that increasingly raises issues for customers and subscribers. then finally there is state surveillance. the concerns that edward snowden certainly emphasized in his revelations about the nsa.
but it is also the case that many arms of government, for example, the central intelligence agency received or carried out a deal with amazon. amazon received $600 million to provide intelligence cloud services for the cia. so there is kind of an uncomfortable link between a company that markets data on its customers and a government intelligence arm whose business is foreign and more often these days domestic surveillance. so there are growing concerns about privacy and surveillance. >> dr. mosco you mentioned the nsa and you talk in, "to the cloud," about the nsa's data
center in utah. what is that and how is it being used? >> it is still under construction and it being the nsa we don't know a great deal about it but that it is enormous. it will store the bulk of the nsa's files on individual and manage data stored elsewhere. so in a sense it will be the information capital of the nsa and, as i mentioned it is built in a mountain. it is a very secure facility. only a few people have reported on what will likely go on there but suffice it to say it will likely be the center of the nsa's data storage processing and information management. >> so if somebody is using a mobile phone or an ipad, a tablet, are they using the cloud
and can you give an example how that would work? >> sure. example of gmail comes immediately to mind. decided not to store their email on their own computers and subscribe to an online service like gmail. so that when you check your email, you would be communicating with a google data center that actually stores your mail. it will send that mail to you and should you decide to respond or create a new email you are communicating with google's gmail division to send out that, that mail. as a result, google is able to observe every email you send out on gmail. and, one consequence is that
that google is able to profit from your use of their gmail service by capturing the data in your mailing to determine the kinds of things that you're interested in. so, if you happen to innocuously email about your interest in nfl football to a friend, chances are the next time you log on to the site there might be an ad for tickets to an nfl game in your area or for jersey sales et cetera. so we are in constant use of the cloud. individuals certainly are but i think it is also important to emphasize is that the cloud is a very significant business tool. as i suggested earlier, one of the reasons why there are significant labor implications
in cloud computing is that big companies want to use the cloud to stream line their workforce. so for example if your company that has a very close customer relations elements in your business you might use the sales force cloud, salesforce.com being a major cloud company and their cloud specializes in customer relations management. so rather than operate an enormous marketing department on your own companies might streamline that and move their marketinging and customer relations to the sales force cloud, saving a lot of labor costs. so that increasingly individuals through email use or downloading, itunes, or making calls on iphone, or companies
wanting to-off elements of -- hive off their business finance, draw from cloud companies to do so. so it is increasingly a fundamental aspect of individual and organizational life. it is important to understand that, and elements that describe the cloud whether it is privacy or labor or concern about the environmental impact of a world covered in data centers we need to consider what amount to serious social and public policy issues that the cloud brings about. peter: have those started to be addressed yet? >> well there is some debate around the cloud.
largely on the periphery. again, it depends on the issue. so, for example there have been discussions about the environmental consequence consequences of the data centers. understand there is nothing cloud-like about a massive data center. the servers inside require enormous amounts of power to operate. they also are required to have a massive cooling facilities. then furthermore because of our 24/7 culture we expect our cloud services, whether gmail or icloud, to be available to us non-stop and as a result cloud companies have to use backup systems like diesel generators and chemical lead acid batteries themselves are
heavily polluting. so as a result, there is a much greater impact on the environment and, organizations like greenpeace and others have done assessments of cloud computing companies identifying which ones do a better job than others and calling attention to companies, for example like apple, that make greater increasingly greater use of solar power for their data centers and calling attention to others like amazon that simply won't reveal their sources f power or their environmental impacts. so we're beginning to think about date at that center impacts. but it is important that we do so soon.
we're talking about thousands of structures around the world that are growing larger and larger, consider for example china which is, has gotten on the cloud bandwagon only recently but it's building entire cloud cities that combine several data centers alongwith research and development facilities and housing, et cetera office facilities for businesses, within the same location with new cloud cities and there's as i observe very little attention directed to the environmental consequences of these but, it is beginning. certainly there's more and more attention devoted to privately and surveillance issues as we come to recognize that the information stored in the cloud is not nearly as secure as we
thought it might be. and, increasingly professional workers whose jobs are at risk with the cloud are beginning to think about the loss of jobs, not so much because of outsourcing to emerging economies like that of india or china, but simply outsourced to the cloud. so there are those consideration as well. organizations representing profession workers are increasingly calling attention to the labor issues. my concern as i identified in the book is that we don't have a more general as yet policy discussion about the role of the cloud in society. now, i think peter we're likely
to see more and more of this discussion as president obama recently raised the potential to make the internet a utility, a public utility not unlike that of utilities that provide other essential services like water and electricity. perhaps, if we begin to think about the cloud and i'm almost certain that as the years grow on as we did in electricity and water, we will inincreasingly see the cloud as an essential service requiring public oversight to address issues like the environmental privacy labor, corporate concentration issues that are being raised piecemeal today. so perhaps it's time to think of the cloud as a public utility.
>> "to the cloud" is vincent mosco's most recent book on the information society and communications. he joins us from boston but he is canadian. he is in fact professor emeritus at queens university in canada. professor, how is canada, do they have a different regulatory structure when it comes to addressing these issues and what about the use of the cloud in your home country? >> yes well, as i mentioned earlier, canada has more than its share of data centers because of our chillier climate. there are some economic benefits to living in the cold. so we house data centers from companies all over the world because it is easier to keep servers cooler up north and we have abundant sources of hydroelectric power to keep them
going. but more to the point canada's regulatory system is only slightly different from that of the united states but one of the key differences is that we pay closer attention to issues like equal access and universal service so that our regulator has greater powers to oversee businesses and it's mainly private businesses that operate in the cloud. we have essentially two policy drivers. one, is that we support canadian companies so that firms like rogers and bell canada are major providers of services. and secondly, that we use the
internet to advance certain social goals like equality and public access. and though, most of our population is located close to the u.s. border, we have populations, communities in the north that are difficult to serve and our regulators work to see and there is is always debate how good of a job they do but the how isolated communities have access to information services as well. so in the long term as we move to what i consider an essential goal, the movement to public utility status for the cloud canada is a bit further along than is the united states which is still battling over the
conflict between public rights and private opportunities. >> now before we run out of time here professor, i i want to tie in one more time the big data aspect to this. >> right. peter: that has been the subtitle of your book as well. you've got two minutes. >> well, sure. peter, one of the important values of the cloud is that it gathers enormous amounts of data which companies and governments can benefit by analyzing. there is widespread public benefit in learning from what is in the cloud. but there is also considerable profit to be made as well as surveillance opportunities. so there is freight debate about big data. and again, one of the reasons why i call for greater oversight of the cloud and big data, in our enthusiasm to embrace the
quantity bits in the cloud we tend to increasingly see truth embodied solely in that which can be quantified or originals noised in correlations. as a trained sociologist i recognize while there is great value in quantitative data there is also limitations and one of the things i fear is our move to embrace big data we're losing the sight of the importance qualitative information historical information theoretical information of can't turfing the subject tivity of the people people's whose data are located in the cloud. i caution to be in your big data. there are numerous cases of errors made in big data analysis. largely because of the misuse of
correlational analysis and and as a result i think we need to be careful to be cautious and to recognize that our society has, has benefited enormously from multiple approaches to understanding data and information and that we should increasingly emphasize the need to supplement quantitative big data analysis with those from the humanities and the social sciences that are more qualitative, subjective and historical. >> finally, professor mosco it struck me throughout our book you made ephemeral and spiritual references to the term of the cloud. why is that? >> well, the cloud image is a very powerful one. many societies and civilizations
have attributed to great power to the cloud and one of my concerns is that by embracing the cloud as an image we're less likely to peer through the cloud to the material issues surrounding the environmental impacts and labor impacts and privacy impacts that we might not associate with that lovely, puffy white cloud in the sky. the cloud is indeed not immaterial. it is very material and the sooner we recognize its powerful materiality, the more likely we are to make use of it for our benefit and to control and regulate many of its successes. peter: "to the cloud" is the name of book. big data in turbulent world.
vincent mosco is the author. thank you sir. >> thank you very much, peter. >> c-span created by america's cable companies 35 years ago and brought to you as a public service ly your local cable or satellite provider. today the new america foundation hosts a discussion on u.s. hostage policy. panelists will discuss the challenges of rescuing americans taken hostage abroad and the debate over whether the u.s. should negotiate with hostage takers or pay ransoms. live at noon eastern on c-span2. now house homeland security chair michael mccaul addresses cybersecurity threats, recent attacks on u.s. companies and the role of the federal government in securing cyberspace. he also outlines new cybersecurity ledge shun which