Lawrence “Larry” Roberts, one of a small handful of people who can truly be called the grandparents of the internet, died of a heart attack on December 26 at his home in Redwood City, California. He was 81 years old.
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Once again European lawmakers are set to vote on a bill that promises to change the internet as we know it. Experts say a misguided update to copyright laws poses a serious danger to how we share news, upload fair use content, make memes, and build startups. Now, some of the pioneers of the web are asking the EU to come to its senses.
The web is a little messed up right now. Governments are spying on civilians, some block specific websites and companies like Amazon have a stranglehold on the cloud services business. But what if we could create a decentralised web, with more privacy, less government control and less corporate influence?
Back in the 1970s, Vint Cerf was one of the engineers working on ARPANet, the early military predecessor to the internet, and consequently he's often referred to as one of the founders of the internet. These days, the decidedly father-figure-esque Cerf still cares about the network he helped create -- specifically, saving digital information for posterity.
Vint Cerf, Google's chief internet evangelist, is famous for having some, um, strong views. He's just unleashed a cracker though: he thinks that "privacy may actually be an anomaly".
They say that success has many parents but failure is an orphan. Judged by that standard -- or any other -- the internet is a success. Al Gore invented it. Tim Berners-Lee got a knighthood out of it. Everyone was using it before it was cool. But only two men have ever borne the title "Father of the Internet". One is the late computer scientist Bob Kahn. The other is Vint Cerf.
If it weren't for the fact that Vint Cerf was the grandaddy of the internet, people might be pointing and laughing at him. In a TED discussion panel last night, about how technology is being used to communicate with animals, Cerf spoke freely about an internet that connects humans with animals and aliens.
Vint Cerf is a smart man. He also knows a lot about the Internet, which isn't surprising considering he helped create it. So when he tells the Internet Society of Australia that he is "envious" of the Government's push for a national broadband network, it's probably a voice worth paying attention to.