Vint Cerf @SxSW: An Internet for the People

Vint Cerf, inventor of the internet @sxsw discussing the movement of the People Centered Internet (PCI)  with Susan Hassler, Editor of IEEE Spectrum. Not only do we want to connect to  the 3 out of 5 people who do not have access to the Internet, Vint called on the packed hall of 400

“to think more carefully about what more useful things we can build on the internet infrastructure to help countries in need to increase their GDP and income of the people.”

It will take work to get the Internet where it isn’t. Major global institutions are lining up to harness the Internet and technology to improve GDP:

the IEEE – Tech for Humanity
the World Bank – Digital Dividends
the World Economic Forum – Internet for All

Vint cited PCI Organizer John Ryan’s clever idea – why not build Internet when you build the road or dam – ride along with big investments already underway.

How can the interactive, music and film communities of SxSW make the Internet more useful for everyone?

In order to make sure the Internet is useful to people –we must measure the value it brings to their lives and to be locally useful, let’s ask ourselves: Is it available local language? Does it provide local information? We must imagine all the ways the Internet allows us to connect to thrive.

Poppy Crum, Chief Scientist for Dolby Labs and Skip Rizzo, Director of Medical VR at USC discussed with Mei Lin Fung what happens when the Internet plays local music. It builds a “gut level” connection that operates at a primal level. How can we assure that the Internet makes local music available to the community, and get local culture out to the rest of the world?

People must be able to take advantage of access. To explore how to bring real benefits to everyone the IEEE Special Interest Group for Humanitarian Technology (SIGHT) has launched the Tunisia project, called Tawasol which means Connectivity.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.                                     Margaret Mead 

The Internet started with a small group of people at Van Nuys High School in California who were interested in math and computing.  Steve Crocker has been Vint’s best friend since high school started the math club in 1959. Jon Postel was 1-2 years behind, he became the editor of RFC  (Request for Comment) series. Vint called the group “Nascent Inter-Nauts”. This small group reconnected as UCLA graduate students working with Professor Len Kleinrock who ran network measurement system for ARPANET .Vint went to Stanford in 1973 and worked with Bob Kahn on this problem: the US Dept. of Defense wanted to use the Arpanet where no wires could go: Mobile vehicles, ships at sea – ARPANET at that time ran only on fixed wires – so had to find a way to use mobile radio and satellite for ship to ship and ship to shore. They had to find a way to connect packet switching together – it was a natural choice for the network of networks After 6 months – Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) was published in IEEE 1974 May. The more complete specification of TCP/IP – Internet transmission protocol was published paper and this was the first use of the term Internet.

We are so early in determining the impact on the world. Its’ hard to realize that we are not even 10 years into the Smart phones era which Vint considers invented 2007 with iPhone – the aesthetics and person-centered design of the iPhone went beyond utility. This has driven investment in mobile telecom investment and so much access to Internet driven by mobile phones.

People who worked on the moon shot remember it as the defining episode of their lives – where they made a difference for the rest of the world. The People Centered Internet is up to us. And if we do this, we will have changed how humanity is connected together for the first time. A once in humanity opportunity to connect to thrive.