By Andrea Ciurej
The “father of the Internet” spoke to a sold-out Scott Conference Center on June 15, to address UNO students, faculty, staff and local business professionals about “The Future of the Internet.”In an hour-long presentation, which was hosted by the Peter Kiewit Institute in cooperation with the Gallup Organization, Vint Cerf spoke about the evolution of the Internet from the ARPAnet, as well as the problems associated with the World Wide Web.
Following his presentation, Cerf touched on Internet privacy, Extended Markup Language archiving and broadband network neutrality with a discussion from the audience.
Cerf – the vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google – began his presentation with the origination of the Internet, followed by statistics to support the Internet’s current population, which is an estimated 1.6 billion users.
Asia leads the population with 657.1 million users, followed by Europe with 393.4 million users and North America with 251.3 million users.
“Their culture, their languages, their interests and everything else are increasingly going to be reflecting in the content of the Internet,” Cerf said. “Their desires, their commercial interests and so on will have a very significant economic affect for anyone who is offering products and services to the general Internet population.”
However, some of these users only receive limited Internet access through mobile devices.
Mobile devices have become an integral part of telecommunications, with an estimated 4 billion in use. However, only 15 percent to 20 percent of mobiles devices have Internet accessibility. Given the size of mobile devices, Cerf said there is a need for innovative interfaces.
Cerf discussed using mobile devices as control centers for using multiple devices, such as high-resolution televisions and WebTV keyboards, to access the Internet.
“They’re clearly just not telephones, they are programmable devices,” Cerf said. “People are monetizing their knowledge about where things are, what’s going on, where it’s going on, when it’s going on.”
Cerf also discussed the development of IP addresses, the complexity of domain name extensions, the governance of the Internet, as well as the Interplanetary Internet, a non-Google program being developed to implement communication on Mars.
Cerf’s main concern, however, is the “bit rot” problem, which has to do with the degradation and compatibility of software files over a period of time.
“The lack of uniformity and lack of backward compatibility overtime is going to harm us,” Cerf said. “Our descendants 100 years from now may know nothing about the beginnings of the 21st century because all of the data that we’ve accumulated and generated won’t be interpretable anymore, and that can’t be the right answer.