The future of the Internet lies ahead – worry-warts included

The internet is still very young. It was only November 1977 when a group of computer scientists successfully connected three networks around the world, including one at University College London. It took until 1989 for the internet to become commercially available and about another decade after that for it to achieve widespread household use in Europe and the United States. Only then did we emerge from what I think of as the ‘internet comma’ days, when its mention in the media was always followed by a comma and a short description.

In a very short time the internet has had a profound impact on the way we live, so it’s hardly surprising that some people have expressed scepticism of its effects. Writing in Atlantic magazine, for example, Nicholas Carr recently asked whether Google is making us stupider, while Doris Lessing’s Nobel lecture last December included what many saw as an attack on the internet.

Yet such a transformative technology is bound to ruffle a few feathers. I have no doubts that its social repercussions will take decades to be fully understood, but it has already done much to benefit the world. It has provided access to information on a scale never before imaginable, lowered the barriers to creative expression, challenged old business models and enabled new ones. It has succeeded because we designed it to be both flexible and open. These features have allowed it to accommodate innovation without massive changes to its infrastructure…

After working on the internet for more than three decades, I’m more optimistic about its promise than ever. We’re at the cusp of a truly global internet that will bring people closer together and democratise access to information. We are all free to innovate on the net every day and we should look forward to more people around the world enjoying that freedom.

Vint Cerf, a vice president of Google, co-designed the architecture of the internet. His child ain’t any more perfect than anyone else’s kid.

But, read through the article and reflect on where he thinks this is all going.

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