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Google guru will discuss Net's future

A founding father of the Internet says he isn't planning a "deeply geek discussion" during his first visit to Fargo. Instead, Vint Cerf hopes to reach people by making them see what's possible. Cerf is one of the keynote speakers at the eighth an...

Vint Cerf

A founding father of the Internet says he isn't planning a "deeply geek discussion" during his first visit to Fargo.

Instead, Vint Cerf hopes to reach people by making them see what's possible.

Cerf is one of the keynote speakers at the eighth annual Upper Great Plains Technology Conference, which opens at 11 a.m. today at the Fargodome.

The goal of the conference is to emphasize information technology: how it's changing lives and the opportunities it creates, said Sen. Byron Dorgan,D-N.D., a sponsor of the event.

The two-day conference includes speakers, a trade show and workshops.

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Cerf was selected as a speaker for his "unique ability to talk about not only what has been created, but what it means in the future," Dorgan said.

Born in New Haven, Conn., Cerf, 63, began working on the Internet's design at the age of 30.

As co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May.

During a phone interview last week, Cerf said his Fargo talk will be about the evolution of the Internet, where it is now and where it's going.

More than 1 billion people use the Internet today, but some hope that will reach up to 3 billion by the end of the decade, Cerf said.

Internet challenges include international copyrights, fraud, abuse, spam and safe-guarding privacy, he said.

Cerf will also talk about interplanetary extension of the Internet - or making the Internet work across the solar system.

This doesn't mean talking to Martians, said Cerf, who is a visiting scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

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Rather, it would provide motivation for robotic exploration and allow for communication and data delivery between Earth and space, he said.

"As we return to man-space missions, we will also need flexible communications for those missions as well," Cerf said.

For the past year, Cerf has also served as vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, based in Mountain View, Calif.

Cerf said he joined Google for several reasons. After spending so much time on the "plumbing" of the Internet, he wanted to work in applications.

He also knew CEO Eric Schmidt and liked the youthful energy of the company.

"They're all sort of under the age of 26. As a result, they don't know you can't do that and go off and run 900 miles an hour," Cerf said.

As Google's chief Internet evangelist, Cerf said part of his job is to be an "international bumblebee."

He travels the world talking to governments, companies and universities to encourage use of the Internet. He also visits remote Google engineering offices to keep updated on developments.

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Another part of his job is to talk with companies that have new technologies or applications that might be of interest to Google.

In addition to his Google duties, Cerf is chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees the Internet's domain name system and address allocation.

Cerf said he got lucky that he had the support he did during the creation of the Internet.

"You don't start out by inventing something with all of the characteristics you see today. You invent something which is evolvable into what it looks like today," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560

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