When Google hosts a Hangout with Vint Cerf, “Father of the Internet,” you attend, at least when you work in a digital industry. During his Wednesday afternoon Hangout – which was scheduled for a half hour, but lasted closer to forty-five minutes – Cerf, currently the Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, discussed the state of the Internet and touched on what he sees for the future.
One of the main topics of the Google Hangout with Vint Cerf was the availability of the internet. This was triggered by a question from a man in Pakistan where the government controls access to the internet and therefore, the access to information. Cerf used the question to promote “openness and freedom” of the internet.
“This is a hard thing to do, commit to limiting access or freedom to access information,” he said, noting how much work countries such as Pakistan put forth to prevent their residents from accessing the internet. He proceeded to explain why he believes free and open internet is good for these countries, particularly as it opens up connections between businesses and allows the country to reach out to more markets, thereby aiding the country’s economic growth.
“You may have to take some risk and in fact, lobby for more opening on the grounds that is better for the country and its population,” Cerf said, answering a question on how to bring the internet to these countries.
Cerf also briefly touched on the future of the internet and technology in general. “Something better than the internet will come along,” he said with confidence. While Cerf doesn’t know what that something better is, he speculated that in the future, we will be able to run even more “things” from a handheld device. He also believes we will “wear” technology and foresees a future where humans can have sensors in their bodies that will transmit information such as our vitals to doctors.
With that sort of technology though, Cerf cautioned that we must acknowledge that as technology evolves and expands, we have to be even more cognizant of the fact that so does the threat of an attack. He used the example that 20 smart refrigerators could potentially bring down all of Bank of America’s banking system in years to come. While the idea of a handful of fridges crippling the country’s financial industry drew a laugh, Cerf was serious.
You can watch Cerf’s Google Hangout here.
What do you think about a free and open internet? How about living in a world where we wear sensors and have our fridges do our banking? Tweet me your thoughts at @Sarah_Wyland!