Steven Levy of Wired interviewed Dr Vint Cerf today (Mar 25, 2009) at the Computer History Museum. The event promoted the Tech Policy Summit Conference taking place at the San Mateo Marriott on May 11-13, 2009.
Vint has 5 roles at Google:
1. Traveling the world to get people online - there are more online in China than in the US
2. Visiting university profs and students to talk about unsolved problems
3. Being a public face for Google
4. Being an Intellectual Bumble Bee - helping Google Engineers share ideas and solutions
5. Redirecting and filtering incoming correspondence - submitted on paper and electronically - re: jobs at Google, technology licensing, company acquisitions
Steve's 1st question was where will the President's $7.2B stimulus package for broadband communications be spent. Some is allocated for research, some for expanding broadband access to rural areas. To make the US competitive with countries like France, where 30 Mbps (megabits per second) bandwidth is delivered to consumers by France Telecom, or Japan, where speeds of over 100 Mbps are available, Vint's view was that $7.2B is not nearly enough.
Another concern is Internet Addressing. Your website may have an IP version 4 address like 188.8.131.52 so that people can find yit. This form of address doesn't have enough digits to address all possible devices, and in 1998 the IPv6 standard was born. However, changing addresses in routers, network devices, network operations software, operating systems and more takes coordination, so only a few organizations, including Google, are using IPv6. A shortage of addresses is inevitable, so policies need to encourage adoption of the newer standard.
Vint is actively working to implement domain name system security (DNSSEC), as domain name servers become more susceptible to fraud.
Steve asked Vint what he thought of the generation brought up on the Internet. His curious reply detailed a luncheon with statesman Henry Kissinger, who lacks a Twitter account. Kissinger is worried that his grandchildren cannot read cursive handwriting and they won't be able to read his archived correspondence. He's also worried that they won't have the discipline to read long tomes, being used to short messages. Vint thought that episodic interactions were just one form of communication and that youth could learn to delve deeply into long documents.
During question time, Vint, together with wireless expert Dewayne Hendricks, felt small businesses in rural areas, rather than large incumbents, would make the best use of the funds. Dewayne proposed regional Internet exchanges, so that small rural service providers could reduce costs by bypassing Internet backbone providers, AT&T and Verizon, when connecting locally.
Stuart Gannes wondered how the $7.2B stimulus package would increase the velocity of circulation of money. Vint claimed that if more people get high speed broadband that will stimulate trade on eBay and Amazon. It will also enable rural workers to work globally using video conferencing and content sharing, so businesses in remote locations could thrive.
Vint ended by reminding us that the world wide web was 20 years old this month.