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 ISOs 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.

Further Reference

Jun Murai pro­file, Internet Hall of Fame 2013