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Internet Society

Reproduction du discours de M. Vinton Cerf
President Fondateur de l'Internet Society
(Genève, le 7 octobre 1995)


Un extrait du discours de Vinton Cerf
à l'Internet Telecom - Genève 1995


10ème paragraphe...

... à propos de l'Internet...

«...J'ai aussi à relater certains effets sociaux plutôt inattendus de cette technologie. Dès lors qu'il existe tant et tant de moyens de communication, nous trouvons aujourd'hui un nouveau canal propre à permettre aux gens de se retrouver, alors qu'autrement ils n'en auraient pas eu l'occasion. A cet effet, j'ai une anecdote personnelle à vous raconter : il y a quelques semaines, ma mère, qui a 79 ans et utilise l'Internet, a reçu un message d'une jeune femme parisienne. Le nom de ma mère est Muriel Cerf et le nom de cette jeune femme - un écrivain français, célèbre - est aussi Muriel Cerf, qui adressait via l'Internet un message à ma mère, disant: "Bonjour, aurions-nous des liens familiaux?". Après avoir échangé toutes deux nombre d'informations généalogiques, ma mère, jeudi dernier, a pris l'avion pour Paris afin de rencontrer son homonyme. Cela ne serait jamais arrivé si le réseau et les emails n'étaient pas aujourd'hui aussi développés...»

Vinton Cerf, Genève 1995.


«...I also have to say that there are some rather unexpected social effects of this particular technology. Since it is a many to many communications medium we find people discovering each other when they would otherwise have no opportunity to do so. I have one personal anecdote to tell you. A few weeks ago, my mother, who is 79 years old and who uses the Internet, got an email message from a woman in Paris. My mother's name is Muriel Cerf. The woman in Paris, a well known French author, is named Muriel Cerf. She sent a message to my mother saying "Hello, are we related ?". Well it wasn't' clear but they exchanged a good deal of genealogical information and last Thursday my mother flew to Paris to meet her name sake in Paris, and this would never have happened had there not been a network and email addresses everywhere...»

Vinton Cerf, Geneva 1995.


en effet, en 1995,
les deux Muriel se sont retrouvées
dans les jardins du Palais Royal
en souvenir de Colette

Muriel Cerf & Muriel Cerf
© D.R. 1995, Paris - France.

1   Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Tarjanne, Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests. It is a great honour to address you this afternoon. I bring you greetings from the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society and I must express my mild astonishment and almost sense of unreality that two days of the most important telecommunications conference in the world has been allocated to the subject of the Internet. Of course I share a great deal of interest and excitement on this subject but I am mildly amazed that there are so many of us who do so as well !  
2   I would like to just quickly say that the Internet Society welcomes all of you to become members, because we do have a chapter here in Geneva, Switzerland. Our job is primarily to promote the growth and evolution of the Internet in any way that we can. We are involved in many activities including standards making activities, assistance in the administration and coordination of Internet activities and so on. There are both individual and organizational members of the Internet Society - we welcome both and if you can't find someone here in Switzerland because you don't happen to live here - you live somewhere else, please send e-mail to the headquarters in Washington. The email address is : isoc@isoc.org  
3   There are a number of conferences that the Internet Society sponsors. They are annual in nature, they have very diverse international participation. Typically we have participants from 110 or more countries. The conference rotates around the world, and we try very hard to do what we preach so this next year we are not going to publish any paper at all. It will be online and CD ROM distribution of proceedings. Some of you who have that rather large bag that came with the Telecom conference may look forward to such changes perhaps in the future. Finally, there is a developing countries workshop which takes place concurrently or just prior to the annual meetings. I want to draw your attention to how important that has turned out to be in terms of introducing some of the developing countries to the technologies of the Internet. We typically get 150-200 people from perhaps 100 or 105 countries to train for a week in how to put together and operate pieces of Internet. These folks go back to their respective homes and many of them bring up either educational networks or in some cases commercial Internet services.  
4   The last two meetings were in Prague and then Hawaii. The one coming up next year in June is in Montreal. You are all most cordially invited. This will take place concurrently with one of the pavilions of the Internet World's Fair which is going to be announced October 18th and beginning in January. So keep your eyes open for that important event.  
5   I feel compelled to offer some statistics, although I have the feeling that Dr. Tarjanne has already given you a sense of the explosive growth of the Internet and I must say that my colleague, Tony Rutkowski, who is a true statistics maven has even more upto date numbers than the ones I show here. But I want to offer you two views of the scale of the network. One of them is simply some absolute numbers about how many networks there are, roughly half in the United States and half outside. A large number of countries are connected although the connectivity varies quite dramatically. The e-mail connectivity is still greater than the absolute Internet access although this is shifting with time as more countries become directly connected. This is still fairly small though as you could see from the other slides that Dr. Tarjanne showed. The Internet is a small size system compared to the telephone network.  
6   This is slide gives a sense of the growth of the number of hosts in the network, and as you can see, it is clearly growing almost 100% year. But I remind you that with the 600-650 million telephones in the world the number of hosts on the Internet represents merely 1% of this number. A very small figure indeed by comparison, but then the telephone system isn't growing quite as fast as this.  
7   Another thing which has been quite stunning for many of us, is to see the rapid growth of commercial use of the Internet. The registrations in the commercial or .com domain have been growing at 16% a month. For a long time the .com domain was only registering hosts in the United States. This has now changed and Tony Rutkowski estimated earlier today that perhaps 30% of the .com domain is now outside the United States. This is a fairly astonishing evolution.  
8   This is my favorite slide. This was a projection and I think I can give Tony credit for this one. It is a projection for what may happen on the Internet at the end of the year 2,000 and according to this slide, every human being on the face of the earth is going to be an Internet user by the end of the decade. Now of course this may not actually happen because it is not clear that there is enough money to buy all the Telecommunications and computing equipment that would be required to achieve that objective. On the other hand the slide also estimates some 200 million computers in the network and this I do believe. I do believe that we have the likely ability to generate that many computers and sell them to people to use on the network. As some evidence of this, last year, in the United States anyway, more money was spent for personal computers than was spent for television sets. I want to be careful here. Not more PCs were purchased, because they are more expensive, but more money was spent for personal computers than for televisions.. This suggests to me that indeed a 200 million host network is possible and this approaches the scale of the telephone system of today.  
9   Well I want to make a few observations about why the Internet is behaving the way it is and why there seems to be some much interest in it. The first thing I have to say is that the technology is incredibly accessible. All the specifications, all the technical documents have been made available on the network since the very beginning of this research effort. Moreover, because sample software is readily available to people in universities, we find a great deal of experimentation with new ideas for using the network simply because so much of this material is available. It's quite different from the telephone system where not very many people have access to the insides of the programming of telephone switches. And so there is a major distinction here because the Internet system is being driven by forces that are outside of the network. Its driven by people writing software in the computers that sit on the outside. Just as examples, the World Wide Web, IP telephone from VocalTec, the CuCme software from Cornell University for video conferencing, the Java software from Sun Microsystems all emerge from the outside of the network, uses it and of course affects it on the inside.  
10   I also have to say that there are some rather unexpected social effects of this particular technology. Since it is a many to many communications medium we find people discovering each other when they would otherwise have no opportunity to do so. I have one personal anecdote to tell you. A few weeks ago, my mother, who is 79 years old and who uses the Internet, got an email message from a woman in Paris. My mother's name is Muriel Cerf. The woman in Paris, a well known French author, is named Muriel Cerf. She sent a message to my mother saying "Hello, are we related?". Well it wasn't' clear but they exchanged a good deal of genealogical information and last Thursday my mother flew to Paris to meet her name sake in Paris, and this would never have happened had there not been a network and email addresses everywhere.  
11   The drivers in 1995 for the growth of the network are many. A few which I think are worth mentioning especially, are the World Wide Web, which as you know emerged out of CERN, located here in Geneva. This has had a profound impact on the impression that people have of the Internet because it is now a medium with sound and imagery and motion - well beyond the kind of simple textual interfaces that we had when the system was first starting. Moreover, we are finding a great deal of experimentation in online commerce and I am sure we shall hear more of that today.  
12   I have to underscore, however that in order to achieve effective commerce on the network we need to apply cryptographic technology in order to preserve privacy and to assure authenticity of the exchanges that take place. This is proving to be very difficult in a global network. I understand that the European Union has recently banned, or at least proposes to ban, strong cryptography. I must express some dismay at this because the commercial world absolutely needs a high quality cryptographic capability on the Net. One only has to look at recent events in the South of France where two students were able to crack a 40 bit key to realize that we do need to have a different policy to that which is currently being pursued. I realize this comes into conflict with many national security policies including those in the United States,. but I am a strong proponent of a better cryptographic capability for the purposes of commerce.  
13   Another driver whose alternate effect is very hard to predict, is real-time applications. Multicasting on the network, the use of IP telephone, real-audio, video-conferencing, all demand considerable responsiveness on the Internet. In some cases more capacity than one needs for simpler applications like email and file transfer. As a result the insides of the network are going to have to change and adapt. We are going to be forced to distinguish among different kinds of traffic in the Net. We have to accept that some packets are more important than others and have to be delivered sooner. I think that the consequences of this is that the suppliers of Internet service will have to begin to distinguish the way in which people use the resources of the Net and they will have to possibly charge differently depending on the nature of the consumption.  
14   There are also some major challenges ahead. I just recently spent some time with a group working on Intellectual property rights on the Internet. It's very clear that because of the ease with which information is reproduced on the network, there is great concern over how to protect intellectual property rights. My belief is that the seeds of solution lie inside the network, or lie inside the technology. In particular we have computers on the outside doing much of the work. There is no reason why we can't apply all that software to help us control access to intellectual property so that people who wish to charge for it can do so and can only release it to a party who was willing to pay.  
15   I hope you don't misunderstand me and think that I am saying that all information on the network should be paid for. I don't believe that is either advisable nor even necessary. A great many people, and I include myself, take a great deal of pleasure in providing information to others who can use it. The reward for that is often simply the knowledge that you have been helpful. In the research community the medium of exchange is knowledge. I share my knowledge with you because you share your knowledge with me. I believe that will continue to be the case in the Internet but that we can, in that framework, allow for-profit exchanges of information to co-exist with the free ones and I think there will be a balance there.  
16   I think it is too easy for us to think in apocalyptic terms. When new technologies come we imagine the world will be transformed instantly and that everything that we used to know will go away. I think that is an overly bleak picture. I think all new technologies ultimately find niches where they can serve us best.  
17   We have another major challenge having to do with the fact that the network is global in scope and as Nicholas Negroponte often likes to say "the bits slip across the borders without much fanfare" . As a result the network operates in a kind of nebulous cyberspace which lies outside of the normal geopolitical boundaries. Of course the pieces of the network are physically routed in the real world and they are routed in geopolitical frameworks where they are laws of various kinds. But because the network is so fully connected, I think it challenges us to wonder that if there are crimes committed in cyberspace, where is the crime, and where is the jurisdiction ? I don't think we have good answers for that and I think we won't have any until case law is built up. We can't predict this, we can only live through it. Maybe we need an International Law of the Net, just like we have an international law of Space and an international law of the Sea. By the way neither of those were very easy to achieve.  
18   With respect to other challenges, I think all the growth curves, put quite a major challenge in front of the engineers. Anything that is growing as fast as the Internet, puts great stress on the technical framework of the system and the router vendors are quite sensitive to that, as are the Internet Service Providers. Moreover as the system gets bigger and as we come to rely on it more and more, then we have to concern ourselves with coordination both for operational reasons and for administration of the Net. Some of you will have followed the considerable publicity associated with the decision to begin to charge in the United States for registration of domain names in the .com, .org and .net top level domains. That is merely a symptom of the network growing up and becoming a part of the real economic world.  
19   Finally, I think that another challenge is supporting real time services on the Net.  
20   I'd like to finish up simply by saying that in 1995 we are at merely the beginning of the Internet's evolution. If this were 1895, the telephone system would be 17 or 18 years old. In 1895, Kittyhawk, the first aircraft flights were 8 years away. Bekorel just discovered radioactivity. Einstein had not yet discovered the theory of relativity. [Break]  
21   I feel equally powerless to discover what is going to happen in the next 10 but I can say it is more fun imagining and I am so glad that we are all here to experience it.  
22   Thank you very much for your time.    
Vinton Cerf, Keynote Address, Internet@Telecom95

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