If you talk with people worried about the evolution of technology one of the things they often comment about is that in many cases the future is quite clear. You can see it coming, but you don’t know how far away it is.
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It’s an honor for me to be here. It’s an undeserved honor for me. But I am proud to be a tiny bit of this construction, this marvelous construction that the Internet is and keeps being.
When I started in 1991, I was a hired gun. I was brought in to create a network, a pan-European network, and I was going to do it for three years. Twenty-three years later I’m still involved in the same thing.
I came along in the early 1990s to join the Internet development community, at a time when this work was cultivated by a mix of academia, government, and industry. And it was really starting to flourish, and the growth of the Net was starting to explode at that point with two to three new countries joining you know, every every month or two with their full TCP/IP connections.
Imagine a word before the World Wide Web. Imagine a time before you had smartphones. And imagine a life where you had to live at X.25. And this was the time I was dreaming of a research academic network for the Sri Lankan academic community.
It’s kind of like we could have the Congress of the United State pass a law with regards to time travel, but let’s face it you know, no one has a time travel machine so what’s the point of it? You can’t change physical laws by making administrative policy. Why should you think you can standardized complicated technology without understanding it?
The interesting phenomenon related to the RSA algorithm and is not shared with some of the other algorithms is it is useful for both encryption and for digital signature. That is they are two distinct uses and this single algorithm is useful for both of those. And there’s an amazing and somewhat interesting story that then develops from that.
The people that invented Ethernet did a real good thing. Ethernet is good technology. But they did a really bad thing because they called it a net. And they shouldn’t have called it Ethernet, they should’ve called it “Etherlink.”
Blockchain is in that space where we still have to explain it, because most of the people have gone from not having it around to having it around. But for kind of the folks that are your age or a little younger it’s kind of always been there, at which point it doesn’t really need to be explained. It does however need to be contextualized.