How did the internet arise to change the world—and where is it heading? Given the state of technology and society, what are the best ways to curtail the spread of misinformation (among other challenges) and the harm it can bring? At the World Frontiers Forum and Xconomy, we can’t promise to cover everything, but we can deliver an important and historic event that poses such questions and many more. We can also deliver some of the most knowledgeable and informed speakers and guests to provide at least some of the answers.
The event is called Net@50. It takes place the afternoon and evening of July 16, starting with a conference at the MIT Media Lab and ending with a gala dinner at Café ArtScience in Kendall Square. Get your tickets here—you can attend one or the other of these two main sessions, or both.
Net@50 will feature an unprecedented combination of the pioneers who built the internet and some of the leading visionaries shaping where it’s headed—sometimes in the same people. The occasion is this year’s 50th anniversary of the first net message, which was sent over Arpanet (the precursor to the internet) on October 29, 1969. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, and will be the tipping point when more than half the world’s population—over four billion people—will have internet access.
If you are interested in the forces influencing the future of the internet and want to meet many of the key people who created it, you should be sure to attend. We’ve invited every internet pioneer we could find to Net@50 as our guests. Among those speaking are some of the net’s key architects and builders: Robert Kahn, Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler, Leonard Kleinrock, Radia Perlman, Vint Cerf, and Bob Metcalfe. These and others attending represent some of the trailblazing companies and groups behind the net—among them ARPA (the U.S. Advanced Projects Research Agency); SRI International; UCLA; and BBN Technologies (the old Bolt, Beranek, and Newman that was so key to the early days here in the Boston area). And of course, MIT itself.
Joining the pioneers at Net@50 are more of today’s most knowledgeable leaders and experts in internet technology and its implications: Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte; MacArthur “genius” prize winner Deborah Estrin; Akamai co-founder and CEO Tom Leighton; parallel computing pioneer Danny Hillis; Nadya Peek of the University of Washington; and Raffi Krikorian of Emerson Collective, previously at Twitter and more recently CTO of the Democratic National Committee. (He’ll be talking on How to Fix Social Media.) There will even be a talk on Interspecies Internet—yes, communicating with non-humans—by Hunter College psychologist Diana Reiss.
Our event, as mentioned, takes place in two parts. First up is the afternoon forum at the Media Lab. You can see the full agenda here. After that program, we will bring every internet pioneer in the audience on stage to be recognized and photographed—30 have signed up as of this writing (full list here), Then, following a short reception, we will reconvene for a gala dinner at Café ArtScience in Kendall Square. There we will fete the pioneers a bit more formally. Tickets to these sessions can be purchased separately or together. Just go here and make your choices. You can also get a table for your company or group.
It’s going to be an amazing day. We’ll be asking big questions about not only the tremendous positive potential of the internet, but the main challenges posed by it—and what we all can do to create a better future.
We hope you can join us.