Jun Murai: There are going to be three points. The first point is the internationalization of the Internet. I mean, when the Internet started, I was sitting outside the United States. So in order to make the Internet be a kind of global entity, I’ve been involved as one of the key persons outside the US for the development of the Internet. So that’s the internationalization and globalization type of thing, because each of the countries has a different philosophy about the Internet. I mean networks, computer networks. And then they got together and then made it into a single Internet. So that’s one of the works. And probably one of the very well known works is RFC 822. Email content was originally defined as English ASCII and now it’s a multilanguage thing. So that’s one of the works I did. So internationalization and globalization is one of the areas.
The second area is that I’ve been serving as a technical— I came from a Unix operating system background. And I have a very big number of friends in the Unix area. And then also working on computer networks. So I came from a technical background. But I also worked on the domain name operation system, including the root server and I’ve been chairing for the root server operators. And the name “DNS,” Domain Name System is from the early 80s. They were facing with the intellectual property area. And so the entire Internet community had to be communicating and discuss things with the intellectual property community. So that’s the start of the so-called Internet governance thing—who’s gonna make a decision in the world. It’s a kind of seed of the ICANN process. So I’ve been serving for the initial ICANN board based on that work. So I’m basically kind of in the first group of people for the technical and the policy-level connection. So that’s my second role.
And the third role is of course since Japan was involved in the early stages of the Internet, I was kind of working with China, Korea, and other parts of Asia. So the Asian Internet development, that’s one of the things I did for my career.
Intertitle: Describe one of the breakthrough moments or movements of the Internet in which you have been a key participant.
Murai: We talked about the global Internet, then we decided to create the organization called the Internet Society. So that’s one of the among persons like Vint Cerf and Larry Landweber, Dave Farber, and myself. And we discussed the strong demand for having kind of a single organization to handle the startup of the Internet all over the world. I was kind of a very strong requester about that such organizations. Because when we were starting working in Japan, there was a lot of misunderstanding about the computer network connecting outside the country. So it was pretty hard. So I don’t want to see in future, after Japan, that many other countries are gonna be faced with the same problems. Therefore the experience has to be kind of stored in the same place to be used for the next possible opportunities. So in order that to do that then, let’s create some kind of organization.
I believe Vint and Larry said in 1990 then “Here is the organization you were talking about. How do you like it?” That was the original idea of the Internet Society. And that was ’91, actually. And then we had the first INET in Denmark in ’91. And then the first ISOC-based INET in ’92, which was hosted by myself in Kobe. So that was the very first, original, ISOC INET in Japan, hosted by myself. That was kind of very much an honor and pride of our group in the entire Internet community in Japan.
And one more thing is at that time, there was a discussion about next-generation Internet protocols in the IETF. Which at that time was called IP version 7, and then it was connecting with ISO’s IP. So they had a lot of hot discussions throughout ’92, including the INET time. And therefore they decided to reconstruct the idea from the IAB structure. IAB used to be called the Internet Activities Board. But then after the reconstruction in ’92, IAB renamed themselves the Internet Architecture Board. So this is kind of a representation of the big big change in the structure.
So I became a new IAB member—Internet Architecture Board member—to start rethinking, redesigning, the next generation of the Internet Protocol, which was…you know, later became IP version 6. So throughout that process, I’ve been very much involved with IP version 6 development, and the design, utilizing my team in Japan. So therefore Japan and Asia had a very strong contribution to the IP version 6 deployment, and the design, and the development. So that’s another part of the very very important contributions from myself and my group to the entire Internet community.
Intertitle: Describe the state of the Internet today with a weather analogy and explain why.
Murai: Well, sunny/partly stormy. [laughs] Okay. You know, the Internet is now accepted of a basis of society all over the world. So that’s a very very sunny side of the story.
And kind of stormy because the situation about now the telephone structure in the global basis has turned out to be an Internet-based communications scheme. And a lot of kind of conflicts, a lot of change has to be done. In many parts of the world it’s hardly accepted, in a way. So the Internet is okay, but the telephone’s system goodness should be kept. Many many people think that the way. So one group of people is thinking the telephone voice communication to be on top of the Internet so that it’s going a kind of application and service on top of the Internet. The other group is considering that the telephone system is a kind of a diplomatic tool connecting the world in the international space. So the question is how can we keep this diplomatic system so the telephone system can kind of survive, or what’s going to be the future of this. So this type of different discussion is going on, especially in the ITU and the United Nations space.
So I sincerely hope that these very big, different discussions are going to be kind of meeting together and mutually understood to be a better conclusions for the direction as a whole. But still you know, there is a lot of distance between those two discussions. So that’s something I’m worrying about very much today.
Intertitle: What are your greatest hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?
Murai: The concern is a policy development thing. You know, the Internet is a truly global space that’s kind of almost a miracle of what human beings created. So it’s a global space. And we do have an international space, but you know, kind of a collection of the nations and the governments involved. So those two things kind of coexist because any of the governments’ activities in any of the peoples’ lives is now based on the Internet. Therefore, they both have to be kind of connected and converged nicely. So that should be achieved, and I’m optimistic that we can achieve that, but in order to reach them you have to very carefully speak and discuss the future model of those two aspects of the digital communication area.
Well, the hope is going to be… Well, it’s a very good question, actually, because the hope and the feat are kind of coexisting. That’s a really important part. The hope is kind of a— When we have created the truly distributed environment around our globe, you know, this planet, and then we can get the benefit from all the data and all the things connected to the Internet, so it can be described as an Internet of Things? And then there’s a lot of data. And anybody can learn from those data because it’s an open space. And then that’s going to be a hope that the Internet infrastructure is going to be providing the platform for the people on this planet to work jointly for the creation of the future. That’s a very very hopeful situation of the Internet.
Intertitle: Is there action that should be taken to ensure the best possible future?
Murai: Well actually a really essential thing is that kind of the really technically global thing is probably well understood. But also the importance of respecting the nations, cultures, governments is still really important. So the merging of those two can sometimes described be described as a cyber-physical system, right. “Cyber” meaning the global Internet space, and the “physical” meaning the physical space and the geolocation, and therefore the governments and the nations are involved. And so the cyber and the physical are going to be kind of working together nicely. So that’s action about we understand about the global space, about digital communication, and that then based on that understanding, we’re going develop the new diplomatic space among the governments, which is international relationships.
Intertitle: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Murai: You know, I’ve been involved on the Internet car, and the Internet TV these days, and then medical information, and the Inter— So you know, 30% of the entire population on this planet are Internet users now. And then the advanced countries of the Internet, it’s more than 80%, 90% of the population is Internet users. And so the 30% of the global population is going to be like 80%. So everybody, everybody on this planet are going to be users of the Internet pretty soon. And so then it’s probably what we can do, and what’s going to be the better way, and the rules, and that kind of thing has to be very much discussed in a different way. That’s what we have to do for the future actions. So the future actions for the Internet for everybody, and everything. So that’s probably the most important future actions.
Jun Murai profile, Internet Hall of Fame 2013