I think he would to some extent be surprised that business has hijacked the Internet in a certain sense. That the entertainment industry…I’ll just pick on them but other industries too, that’ve basically exploited that sort of delivery vehicle that was made not really with them in mind but they have gained such a dominant position in dictating how and where the Internet goes.
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In some ways, I helped put the “inter” into the Internet because it was the first time these administratively-different networks were connected together and could connect together as they wished.
The hard part was that everything was new at the same time. There was new hardware. There were new protocols. There was a new implementation of protocols in the operating system. It was actually difficult to figure out how to build protocol software in the operating systems. We had new applications. Things that…you have to understand at the time people didn’t use networks. So everything was being done at the same time.
Citizenship, after not thinking about it for a while, feels like something we’re all thinking about quite a lot these days. In the words of Hannah Arendt, citizenship is the right to have rights. All of your rights essentially descend from your citizenship, because only countries will protect those rights.
[Frank Heart] said that the thing he most remembers about building the early ARPANET was it was really an amazing effort by a few people. It shows what can happen when you put together a very talented group of focused people, and they can really accomplish an amazing amount of things.
Bob couldn’t make it today. And if he could teleport here—I mean that’s technology for the future—he would have been here this evening, but he continues to pursue his vision of improving connectivity among people, and communications environments that enable that.
The Soviet experience suggests something really important for us today, which is that networks are entirely compatible with surveillance. And many of our favorite things to talk about, then, peer-to-peer production, or end-to-end intelligence, kind of missed the point that I think is now obvious. That whether you’re the NSA or Google or whoever else…you’re a general secretariat, seeking to privatize our power, and you are surveilling us, because you have a network in place.
Hacking science and space exploration isn’t just about getting excited and making things. But it’s about getting excited and making disruptively accessible things. Things that really disrupt the current state of science and a lot of the elitism around it, and truly make it accessible for everyone.