Announcing Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Xconomy Boston — 

The first short message went out over Arpanet, the precursor to the internet, 50 years ago this year—and it changed everything. Much of the change has been wonderful—as the internet has revolutionized communication, commerce, and access to information, in the process transforming and improving the lives of billions of people. But as we are ever more acutely aware, that very technology infrastructure is also a tool for scams, identity and financial theft, election fraud, and oppression.

These are all subjects that will be examined at Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet, a unique two-part event to be held at the MIT Media Lab and Café ArtScience in Kendall Square on July 16, 2019. Xconomy is partnering with the World Frontiers Forum, a non-profit effort set up by professors from Harvard and MIT, to hold this event. With it, we will pay tribute to the internet pioneers and also look ahead to what the next 50 years might bring, for both better and worse.

It promises to be an amazing day. A large number of internet pioneers (many from the Boston area) will be on hand, both on stage and in the audience during the afternoon—and as our guests at dinner. Among our speakers are living legends of the internet, including Vint Cerf, Radia Perlman, Bob Kahn, Len Kleinrock, and Bob Metcalfe—all inductees into the Internet Hall of Fame. Others taking part include Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte; Neil Gershenfeld, who heads MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms; Cornell computer science legend Deborah Estrin; Nadya Peek from the University of Washington; and Raffi Krikorian of Emerson Collective, who has only recently stepped down as CTO of the Democratic National Committee, where he led efforts to recover from Russian hacking and more. Krikorian will speak on How to Fix Social Media.

Among the other topics we will consider are infrastructure and data management (should the internet as we know it be torn down and rebuilt from scratch? Many say yes); privacy and security, internet of things; the interspecies internet (yes, we might one day communicate with dolphins and apes over the internet); and of course, the future of free elections.

You can learn more and register here for both the afternoon event and the dinner, or just one. Both will include networking time that provides the rare opportunity to meet with the internet’s pioneers and other speakers, as well as your fellow attendees. And we are planning some additional surprise elements as well.

Again, you can register here. I hope to see you on July 16.