Vint Cerf interview

The SST has an interview with Father of the Internet Vint Cerf.

Cerf was in Auckland and Wellington last week as the keynote speaker at a conference addressing an impending crisis in the internet’s infrastructure. In the next two years, the world will run out of internet addresses, necessitating a shift to an updated version of internet protocol called IPv6. It will have enough addresses for everybody in the world (China currently has only 22% internet penetration), as well as their phones, PDAs and whatever else they want to put online (Cerf knows of a guy who internet-enabled his surfboard). The impending scarcity will lead to an ugly scramble of grey markets and desperate, retroactive crisis management unless efforts are sped up to adopt the new protocol.

“It’s going to be messy,” he says. “I’m not looking forward to 2010.”

The latest projection is that IANA will allocate the last IPv4 block to an RIR in July 2011, and the RIRs will allocate the last block in May 2012.

Cerf is often asked to predict where technology will lead in the future; you need only to go back a decade to check his hit rate. In 2000, he wrote in Time magazine of a mobile device on the horizon that would combine a phone, camera, email, payment system and digital book, and would have a catchy name. He suggested Widget (Wireless Internet Digital Gadget for Electronic Transactions); seven years later, Apple plumped for “iPhone”.

His current predictions that the falling cost and rising sophistication of programmable devices will allow the internet to be widely embedded in inanimate objects, in our bodies, and in outer space are already starting to be realised. Cerf’s wine cellar is internet-enabled, sending him a text message when the temperature and humidity reach unfavourable levels. Cheap, passive computers, embedded in objects and activating sensors, will become ubiquitous, he predicts, leading to advancements in automated shipping and inventory control.

I like the Internet-enabled wine cellar.

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