A founding father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, attributes its astonishing economic success in no small part to “permissionless innovation,” the freedom of Internet developers to try new business models and offer new services without obtaining prior government approval. The clear signal government sends by not overregulating the market is a reason the Internet today is a staple in our lives. Any calls for Internet regulation should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism, and before acting, the government should ensure that proposed Internet regulation is going to provide more consumer benefit than harm.
This week at the annual RSA Conference, we will hear from industry leaders on a wide range of issues, from the supply chain security crisis to breach disclosure notifications. While it’s important to talk about where we have been and what is happening in the industry right now, it is equally as important to think about where we need to go.
The Internet and the World Wide Web application have transformed daily life and work for more than half of the world’s population. And the actions of those who are online increasingly affect everyone, including the 3.7 billion who are not yet connected.
In 2011, the movie “Contagion” eerily predicted what a future world fighting a deadly pandemic would look like. In 2020, I, along with hundreds of thousands of people around the world, saw this Hollywood prediction play out by being diagnosed with COVID-19. It was a frightening year by any measure, as every person was impacted in unique ways.
Vint Cerf is widely known as a “Father of the Internet” and is the highly celebrated co-designer of TCP/IP protocols and Internet architectures. In his lecture, “The Future of the Internet of Things: Desirable properties of an IoT ecosystem”, Cerf discussed the benefits and the potential pitfalls of a massively automated world.
Two dozen Turing Award laureates including Father of the Internet, and former ICANN Chair from 2000 to 2007, Vint Cerf have endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for President of the United States and Senator Kamala Harris for Vice President. As the letter notes, it’s the first time Turing Award Laureates have endorsed a candidate.
In my last column (June 2020), I wrote about my experience with COVID-19 and the challenges involved with getting medical attention. The problem is still with us, even with the improved availability of personal protection equipment and masks. The experience of calling for a doctor’s appointment and being told I could not come into the doctor’s office was unsettling to say the least.
In this episode of Radio Corona, Gideon Lichfield, editor in chief of MIT Technology Review, will discuss the future of our connected world with Vint Cerf, one of the people known as a “father of the internet.”
Even the father of the internet would do things differently if he were creating the internet all over again. At a recent conference, Vint Cerf said he would have started with 128-bit addresses from the start.
“If I could have justified it, putting in a 128-bit address space would have been nice so we wouldn’t have to go through this painful, 20-year process of going from IPv4 to IPv6,” Cerf, who is now Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, told an audience of journalists during a press conference on 22 September at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany, according to the IDG News Service. Cerf said in hindsight he would have also like to have added public key cryptography.
“I doubt I could have gotten away with either one,” said Cerf according to the report, who won a Turing Award in 2004 and is now vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google. “So today we have to retrofit.”
While it couldn’t have been envisaged at the time, it soon became obvious the 32-bit addresses were inadequate.
The report continued:
The 128-bit address space, for instance, “wouldn’t have seemed realistic back then,” he said. Particularly given the effort’s experimental mind-set at the time, “I don’t think we could have forced that.”
There actually was debate about the possibility of variable-length addresses, but proponents of the idea were ultimately defeated because of the extra processing power associated with them, he explained. “Because computers were so expensive back then, we rejected the idea.”
As for public key cryptography, the notion had only recently emerged around the time the internet protocols were being standardized back in 1978.
“I didn’t want to go back and retrofit everything, so we didn’t include it,” Cerf said. “If I could go back and put in public key crypto, I probably would try.”
Father of the internet Vint Cerf narrates this video on one of his three “kids”, the internet. The video gives a history of internet governance, starting with the work Cerf and Bob Kahn did when it was a small Defence Department project and that Jon Postel managed the directory that translated names and IP numbers.Then there was the creation of ICANN and its role as demand for names and numbers got highter. And now how the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has presented a plan to end its contractual oversight and hand this over to ICANN under non-governmental oversight in the hands of an international multistakeholder community.To watch the video if it does not appear above, go to: