Legendary rock musician and longtime internet evangelist Peter Gabriel has joined the all-star cast of speakers for Net@50, a historic event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first net message—while also looking ahead to the internet’s next 50 years.
The event, put on by the non-profit World Frontiers Forum in association with Xconomy, takes place the afternoon of July 16 at the MIT Media Lab and will be followed by a gala dinner at Café ArtScience in Kendall Square. You can buy tickets here to one or both of these sessions. But you need to hurry. The dinner is almost entirely sold out and space is going fast at the afternoon event.
It promises to be a special day. Net@50 will bring together some of the most important figures who built the internet with some of today’s leading experts, investors, and entrepreneurs shaping its future. They are all convening to mark the 50th anniversary of the first net message, which was transmitted over Arpanet (precursor to the internet) on October 29, 1969. If that isn’t enough, 2019 is also the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, and is expected to be the first year when a majority of the world’s population will have internet access.
Among those speaking will be Internet Hall of Fame pioneers Vint Cerf, now of Google; Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler; Leonard Kleinrock; Radia Perlman; Bob Metcalfe; and Robert Kahn. They will be joined by other towering figures such as MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte; CNN analyst and security expert Juliette Kayyem; parallel computing visionary Danny Hillis; and MacArthur genius award winner Deborah Estrin. You can see the other speakers and agenda here.
Gabriel has long been on the front lines of internet activism. He recalls taking part in a peace concert in Japan in 1987, with some of the funds raised used to set up the Association for Progressive Communications, which among other things helps establish or increase access to the internet in areas where there is none or it is too expensive. According to Wikipedia, in 1992, he also became a co-founder of WITNESS, a non-profit group “that equips, trains and supports locally based organisations worldwide to use video and the internet in human rights documentation and advocacy.”
More recently, Gabriel has been active in a project called Interspecies Internet—using the internet to connect with dolphins, apes, elephants, and more. That work is what he will speak about at Net@50, joining Hunter College cognitive psychologist Diana Reiss and Neil Gershenfeld, a professor at the Media Lab. (You can learn more from this account from a TED2013 session featuring all three, along with Vint Cerf.)
In short, it will be a fantastic day exploring the future of the internet while celebrating its past. Some three dozen internet pioneers will also be on hand in the audience, and will be invited up on the stage at the end of the afternoon event for a brief photo shoot and to celebrate their accomplishments. A networking reception afterwards will give you the chance to speak with them and others.
Again, go here to get your tickets to the afternoon event or dinner—or both. We hope to see you on July 16.