Thank you. I’m very hap­py to be here on behalf of my dad to accept this hon­or. He would be very hap­py that there was an Internet Society, some­one shepherding—although that’s prob­a­bly too strong a word—the evo­lu­tion of the Internet, which is prob­a­bly more unman­age­able or pre­dictable than shep­herd­ing cats. And I think he would be bemused that there was an Internet Hall of Fame. I’m pret­ty sure he did­n’t think of that in his pio­neer­ing thoughts.

Also, he would say to you that you are all wrong and that he nev­er should have been cho­sen to receive this award. He was a fair­ly hum­ble guy and would sit here—and it’s been a recur­ring theme—he would begin nam­ing the names of all the peo­ple who real­ly did the work. And he would sort of just say, I was there.” And he would list a lot of peo­ple. When he was alive, I’d been to some award cer­e­monies in which he received awards, and it was kind of bor­ing because he sort of dis­ap­point­ed the audi­ence and just list­ed lots of peo­ple. And it’s per­haps because his time in gov­ern­ment taught him some­thing that he did­n’t, I don’t think, start out know­ing, being an engi­neer sci­en­tist— But he kin­da got the idea about being polit­i­cal­ly and social­ly cor­rect and con­grat­u­lat­ing every­body else but him­self.

My dad was, I guess you would say, an out-of-the-box thinker. In fact there are some peo­ple who thought he nev­er was in the box. And I think a lot of what he did was serendip­i­tous. He went to Bolt Beranek and Newman after start­ing the exper­i­men­tal psy­chol­o­gy pro­gram at MIT as a per­son who was known for his exper­i­men­tal psy­cho­log­i­cal work in hear­ing, audi­tion, and hear­ing and human fac­tors. And he worked on things like what kinds of sig­nals— His office at BBN had gongs, noise­mak­ers, all kinds of things that would make sounds, in the spir­it of fig­ur­ing out what’s good to tell a pilot that the plane’s on fire—something that would pen­e­trate and be suc­cess­ful in let­ting peo­ple know what was going on.

In the process—and this is a time when BBN was an acoustics com­pa­ny. They designed Royal Philharmonic Hall and the New York facil­i­ty. And he was lucky to be there when they first got com­put­ers. And this utter­ly trans­formed him from being a psy­chol­o­gist. He became infat­u­at­ed— At that time, you were fun­da­men­tal­ly work­ing with a per­son­al com­put­er. Because it was unshare­able. And I remem­ber as a kid going in there, par­tic­u­lar­ly on Saturdays. I had a job of rolling up the punched paper tape, putting a rub­ber band on it, and putting it back on the peg­board. I was paid five cents a day, and it was nice that the BBN vend­ing machine dis­pensed can­dy bars for exact­ly one nick­el.

But he real­ly was trans­formed by this expe­ri­ence of being one on one with a com­put­er, and had the idea of the poten­tial of human aug­men­ta­tion by hav­ing a sym­bi­ot­ic rela­tion­ship with a com­put­er. And that evolved to a very strong belief in what he would call the Intergalactic Network, which would take the knowl­edge of humankind and make it freely and open­ly acces­si­ble to every­one in the world. A some­what ide­al­is­tic and opti­mistic posi­tion, per­haps, but one that gained tremen­dous momen­tum.

And again as luck would have it, for some rea­son some­body thought he should come to the Information Processing Techniques Office at ARPA. And this was giv­ing mon­ey to an out-of-the-box per­son who became not only a pros­e­ly­tiz­er for this vision, but a guy who hap­pened to have cash. And he was some­what of a tal­ent spot­ter, and he would find some smart group in a uni­ver­si­ty and say— But he had mon­ey to give peo­ple. All kinds of strange peo­ple. All kinds of peo­ple who seemed to share his vision. And I think that was the luck of it all. They could’ve appoint­ed some­body else to IPTO and not had the same result. Maybe a bet­ter one, maybe a dif­fer­ent one, but it’s hard to see that.

But because he was an evan­ge­list, he was a fun­der, he would stand up here and say, No. I did­n’t do it. You know…all these peo­ple that were bril­liant, and did it. And let me tell you all their names.” And then you’d get bored. But he was very hap­py about how the Internet evolved to a point— But he did­n’t live long enough to see the World Wide Web, and to see the dark forces of ven­ture cap­i­tal and the enter­tain­ment industry…all kinds of actors becom­ing dom­i­nant play­ers in the evo­lu­tion of the Internet. Moreso at the time, any­way, in this peri­od than tech­nol­o­gy in some cas­es.

I think at this point he would be con­cerned about the attacks on the fun­da­men­tal notion of tak­ing humankind’s knowl­edge and mak­ing it avail­able to every­one. And he would be dis­turbed by nation-state inter­dic­tion of their Internet. He would be dis­mayed by gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. And the com­mer­cial­iza­tion and par­ti­tion­ing that imped­ed this free flow. And I guess it’s up to the suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple, the Internet Society and its fol­low­ers, to make sure that we have a good out­come. But in any case, enough said. I real­ly appre­ci­ate it very much that you’ve bestowed this award on him. And thank you very much.


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