Google VP Vint Cerf presents “The Future of the Internet” at UNO


Photo by UNO photographer Tim Fitzgerald
Photo by UNO photographer Tim Fitzgerald

Monday afternoon, an audience of about 250 gathered at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to hear “the father of the Internet,” Dr. Vint Cerf, present his thoughts on “The Future of the Internet.” The event, held by the The Peter Kiewit Institute through cooperation with The Gallup Organization, at which Cerf serves as a Senior Scientist, was held for students, faculty and staff.

As reported ealier, we covered the event, and although we weren’t able to grab an interview, we recorded Vint’s talk in its entirety (below).

Dr. Vint Cerf, who I’ll refer to as “Vint” on his request, “Everybody calls me Vint,” serves as the vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. According to his corporate profile, that role makes him “responsible for identifying new enabling technologies and applications on the Internet and other platforms for the company.”

Although he didn’t get into specifics of Google’s efforts, he spoke about his personal experience of linking his wine cellar to his mobile phone. When the temperature rises too high, he receives a text alerting him of the issue, at which time he springs into action to manually adjusts the temperature to properly preserve his 1,000+ bottles. His next step, however, will be to avoid taking steps, and hook his mobile up to not only the temperature sensor but to the temperature controls, as well. If that works, he’d like to hook it up to the inventory, too, and if that works, he’d like to hook it up to the corks to measure his wines’ readiness.

Vint cuts it off there, even though you know his hopes of implementing the Internet across multiple platforms could go on and on. A favorite slide of his displays a picture of a surfer waiting to catch the next wave while literally “surfing the Internet.” I’d argue he included the picture because he enjoys the pun a bit too much, but it does justice to his belief in the future and reach of the Internet.

Vint began his presentation telling of his background co-designing TCP/IP protocols and the basic architecture of the Internet with Robert Kahn. He soon jumped ahead to today’s Internet statistics. He made remarks on world usage, pointing out Asia’s chart-topping Internet population of 657.1 million but low penetration of 17.1%, in comparison to North America’s of 254.3 million and 74.4%. He’s projecting a greater amount of content from these countries, and with that it’ll complicate the Internet of today.

He discussed how this will affect IP addresses. Their current version, IPv4 is projected to run out in 2011, so Vint advocated, as he has in the past, for IPv6, which Google has already embraced. He also discussed the complexity of domain name extensions being translated into Non-Latin Unicode characters, such as .py, which could be claimed by both Paraguay and Russia.

Vint gave his take on cloud computing, saying they’re very excited about it at Google but he sees fault in that there isn’t a way to move data between the clouds. In fact, he even challenged the students to write their dissertation on the subject, hopefully coming up with a solution. He told them that they have the opportunity “to do for the cloud world, what was done for the Internet world 35 years ago.”

Vint next discussed ways in which the Internet was incomplete, which he’s dedicated talks to before. He started with security and touched on topics such as broadcast communication and intellectual property rights. He also posed the question of performing a Google search in the year 3000 (which was a bold prediction in itself, as well as his scenario using Windows 3000) and finding a PowerPoint presentation in the results from 1997: Will your computer be able to read it or will programs that require rendering be incomprehensible by the computers of tomorrow?

Thinking even further into the future, Vint concluded his presentation by describing his contributions (not associated with Google) on the InterPlaNetary Internet, which was started out of interest to explore Mars. The first major challenge they’re confronted with is the time it takes data to transfer between Earth and Mars. “The round trip time, in the worst case,” he said, “for Earth-Mars communication is 40 minutes.” The second is celestial motion, “the planets are rotating and we haven’t figured out how to stop that,” Vint joked.

Following his talk, Vint fielded three questions from the audience: the first on privacy, the second on XML archiving, and the third on net neutrality.


UNO covered the event, as well, through its twitter account @unomaha. I not only commend them for using this new medium but congratulate them on using it really well. Here’s six of their 14 tweets:

Sarah Casey, here. Intern with University Relations at UNO. I’ll be live from the Google presentation at the Scott Conference Hall at PKI.

“I always get nervous when people clap when you get up, it’s not going to get any better,” jokes Cerf.

Cerf is talking about the first three-network test of the internet on Nov. 22, 1977.  Early origins of the test relate to the military.

“You know if I had a laptop on my surfboard, I could be surfing the Internet while I’m waiting,” said Cerf re: Internet enabled surfboard

“Cloud collaborations allow people to not worry about where the data is, it’s in the cloud,” said Cerf. Google and Amazon both use clouds.

Cerf worries about the “BIT ROT” problem:  how will technology handle file types that demand specific applications from the past.

As noted,  the tweeting was done by Sarah Casey, UNO University Relations intern, who works with Wendy Townley, Assistant Director, Media Relations at UNO.


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