As this was the closing keynote, Matt Gamser, CEO of the Global SME Financing Forum gave an overview of insights from the 3 day conference before Mei Lin’s talk begins at Minute 14.
I have some exciting news to share this month, but first, I want to take a trip back in time: Just over 50 years ago in 1969, the first two nodes of the Internet were connected. This would begin a long series of innovations, like the TCP/IP specification developed by our PCI co-founder, Vint Cerf and the vision of Douglas Engelbart’s “Mother of all Demos.” People-Centered Internet was founded in 2015 in the same spirit of “participation by all” to ensure the Internet continues to be “a force for good in the world.”
Last year’s Internet Governance Forum in Berlin catalyzed a new area of focus for PCI on “Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy,” supporting the recommendations of the United Nations’ High Level Panel. Fabrizio Hochschild, Doreen Bogdan, Vint Cerf, Hinrich Thoelken, and I envisioned an informal network of those working to augment traditional diplomacy with the connections that technology enables and building on the spirit that energized the original spread of the Internet in the 1980s and ’90s.
Palo Alto, CA, Sept. 23, 2020 — People-Centered Internet, a California-based 501(c)3 organization with a mission to “put humanity at the center of the Internet,” is co-hosting [email protected], and Mei Lin Fung is Chairing the Opening Day. Our Founding Chair, Vint Cerf will be part of the event from 8 to 10 a.m. and make closing remarks at 9:45 am Eastern.
The event is free to attend and kicks off with Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy Day on Thursday, Sept. 24 and closes on Oct. 2. As part of the celebration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary, speakers from across the globe will usher in a new era for a personal commitment to acting on science, technology, and art in an interconnected and interdependent way.
The goal of the dialogues is to shift the culture of science to be more human, and to share our hopes and inspiration so that each of our actions on the micro scale will lead to a macro effect.
The Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy Day session is divided into three acts: The Art of Learning, The Art of Health, and The Science of Thriving. Dozens of leaders from across the public and private sector will present their perspectives on how to bring art and humanity to the center of progress. Their expertise and priorities will help guide forward the vision and priorities for executing on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
People-Centered Internet is uniquely positioned to co-host this event by leveraging changemakers and resources from across sectors and nations — all while keeping our people-centered vision at the heart of the conversation.
The culmination of the event is a call to action for volunteers to “Connect to Thrive” and bring expertise and resources to this momentous effort. PCI encourages attendees to use the hashtag #Connect2Thrive to tune into updates and conversation.
Today digital technology brings perils as well as promise. Connecting the schools safely means regulators have to assure that technologies Do No Harm. I commend the ITU for #Reg4Covid and in 2019 WSIS, Regulators on the digital frontier spoke about the importance of “share and learn” together in Regional (cross border) networks. National implementations can be improved by sharing breakthroughs and building on lessons learned by neighbors. Regulatory learning networks are needed to keep up with rapid change and the constant cyber attacks. Regional networks are also key to designing regional infrastructure built on common digital building blocks (Appendix 1) This can decrease by ten-fold the cost of health, education, social support systems. I know because I am from Singapore where this strategy has been underway for 2 decades with huge cost savings. Singapore is also the home of the DQ Institute – Digital Quotient – recognized by OECD, IEEE and others for assessing child and adult digital literacy.
As we come to understand that our interactions with each other will continue to be primarily “virtual” for many months ahead, I find myself returning to the idea that friendship and empathy fueled the start and the success of the early Internet. I recently had the privilege of addressing the World Summit on the Information Society, where I emphasized that the future of the Internet must follow a similar path, with leaders prioritizing equity and “do no harm” policies in their shaping and design of new and old systems.
Some have called this time of COVID-19 our “World Wide Pause.” For some of us — especially in the United States, Russia, India, and Brazil, where cases continue to rise — the pause is lasting longer than we could have imagined, while our friends in New Zealand, China, and many in the European Union cautiously reopen.
In the midst of these unique circumstances, we joined the world in marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, which was signed in San Francisco on June 26th, 1945. The preamble to the UN charter establishes what can still, to this day, be rightly called one of the most ambitious visions for the world on behalf of “We the Peoples of the United Nations.” Of course, the signatories could hardly have imagined a time when half the world would be digitally connected with the ability to instantly share experiences and information, or the challenges that would bring.
Watch as PCI celebrates the 75th birthday of the UN. We asked, in a time of plague, poverty and protest, can people and the UN join together to Connect, Protect, Respect?
In 2018, following the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico, People-Centered Internet fielded a team of experts, working with the RAND Corporation, to offer recommendations for leveraging the Internet for the archipelago’s recovery plan. This initiative followed extensive disaster response work by PCI community member, Melvin Cordova, through his “Project Coqui.” PCI team members — including Marci Harris, Mei Lin Fung, and Lin Wells — traveled multiple times to Puerto Rico to engage with local business leaders, innovators, academics, and policymakers. They also participated in a knowledge-exchange trip, organized by Mei Lin Fung, for leaders from Puerto Rico to visit Singapore and engage with their counterparts in business, government, and academia to learn from Singapore’s post-colonial transformation. PCI’s work culminated in 11 recommendations (courses of action or “COAs”) for leveraging federal programs and private resources for Puerto Rico’s recovery and were included in the plan submitted to Congress.
As June begins, the world is still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. The toll of human lives lost and families forever changed continues to climb. The Internet has helped our societies stay connected and continue to function as we limit physical interactions to prevent further spread of novel coronavirus. It has also facilitated the spread of a shocking video illustrating the continued proliferation of another deadly disease in America: racism and systemic indifference to black suffering. At this writing, the streets of U.S. cities are literally aflame and platforms amplify cries for justice and peace.
It has been quite a month for PCI, as our new board has gotten up and running and activities within our six areas of focus for 2020 are beginning to take shape.
We at PCI are thinking a lot about cities and how governments around the world can better engage with and respond to the needs of their residents. I was honored to join the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for a panel on “Governing and Managing Smart Sustainable Cities” at the 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi on Feb 8–13th, where I argued that “smart cities” should be about making “smart people,” setting the conditions to allow all individuals to thrive.