Google’s chief evangelist shared his vision of hope and gloom for the web at the recent Edinburgh International Television Festival. Vinton Cerf, referred by many as one of the web’s founding fathers, told of a web future that involved deep space, internet everywhere, and the loss of valuable information.
Mr Cerf, who joined the Google ranks in 2005, is credited for developing the internet’s basic protocols (TCP/IP) with Bob Kahn back in 1973 and co-founding the Internet Society back in 1992. With that pedigree, when he shares his vision – people pay attention. So much so, Google employed him without an interview.
At the festival, Vint Cerf told of the changing penetration of the internet across the world with Asia (398.7m users) now eclipsing Europe (318.4m) and the United States (233.3m) with the highest number of internet users.
He reaffirmed the explosion of even more internet enabled devices, highlighting that someone has already developed a surfboard with internet access. His hot tip was a remote control (internet enabled of course) that would allow people to control their home entertainment systems (as an example of its many uses) from anywhere in the world.
Vint Cerf is also working on a technology project (outside of Google) that would allow interplanetary net surfing via the “solar web”. The project, being worked on by NASA and America’s Jet Propulsion Lab, is aimed at building a more elaborate networking capability for deep space communication, and then standardizing the protocols in the way he did for the internet was we know it.
While his vision told of internet growth, innovation and expansion, he also shared some concerns for our ability to keep it secure and preserve the valuable information it contains.
“The biggest hole we have is with internet browsers, because we have too much access to the functionality of the operating system…” he shared, highlighting this made it easy for viruses and malicious programs like “Trojans” to take control of a computer.
These security risks, compounded by the increasing prevalence of poor software design, were his greatest concerns for the future of the web. He said during his talk:
“We worry about reliability and resilience at Google, to ensure that the loss of a data centre doesn’t affect everybody…. I don’t know whether 1,000 years from now information that might have been valuable and could have been preserved if it was written on vellum, won’t be preserved because it’s written in bits.”
Let’s just hope his positive visions are embraced, and the net we all know continues to grow and innovate, whilst we take the time to invest in the security of this invaluable resource. It would be a travesty if the information was ever lost simply due to hast and complacency.