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The Internet: 50 Years and Counting

Jeff Hall

Posted on October 30, 2019 17:13

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On October 29, 1969, Dr. Leonard Kleinrock and his team – many with long hair and mutton-chop sideburns – sent the first computer-to-computer message from UCLA to their awaiting colleagues at Stanford Research Institute. This was the beginning of the Internet.

Fifty years ago yesterday, a young computer scientist at UCLA began to log into a computer as his contemporaries at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) let him know by telephone what they were seeing on their end.

The researcher at UCLA typed in “L” – the beginning of “LOGIN” – and then “O.”

The folks up at SRI reported over the live phone wire they could see the “L” – and then the “O”.

But upon typing the letter “G,” the server at SRI crashed.

And that was it for Internet, Round One.

Dr. Leonard Kleinrock of UCLA.

“LO” was a fitting beginning for all this, according to Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, Internet pioneer, who quickly filled in the blanks by adding, “Lo and behold.” 

Yesterday’s all-day program at UCLA, called “From Founders to Futurists,” included computer scientists, venture capitalists, celebrities, academics, artists, authors, journalists and futurists.

Together they talked about the early days of the technology, the rapid advances in the 50 years since – and where it might all go from here.

Everything from email to spam to e-commerce to bots to the rise of social media and cultural awakening – and Internet-inspired political upheaval – was covered.

Meg Whitman of Quibi was a panelist.

Steven Walker, current head of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) – which funded the original research that led to the Internet – began his remarks by saying he wasn’t sure if he should say “you’re welcome” or “I’m sorry.”

TV star Ashton Kutcher cautioned that too much censorship could lead to trouble – that one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter.  

Mark Cuban joked that if anyone watching the day’s proceeding online liked his shirt, that person could buy it by sending Cuban money via Venmo.

Patrice Cullors of Black Lives Matters, while decrying the hate speech members of her organization have endured online, said new online platforms, coupled with social media, have given voice to those underserved or ignored by traditional media, pre-Internet. 

Four of today's UCLA computer science majors during lunch break.

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel of Founders Fund argued that too many governmental regulations were slowing progress in several fields, not just tech.

Robert Metcalfe, professor of innovation and entrepreneurship from University of Texas, countered by providing statistics indicating innovation was alive and well.

Predicted Daniela Rus of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab: Computers, aided by AI and machine learning, will one day enable animals and humans to “talk” to one another.  

Neuroscientist Eric Haseltine said the best technology is the technology that disappears into the background.  It becomes like “oxygen” – or “The Force,” even.

Lifting rocks with the power of one’s mind at some point in the future isn’t that far-fetched, he said.

The 9.5 hour program was captured on video: https://samueli.ucla.edu/internet50

Be sure to watch for the wonderful chorale group that put the birth and evolution of the Internet to music.

Dr. Kleinrock, star of the day’s show, concluded the program by saying: “See you in 50 years.”

 

Jeff Hall

Posted on October 30, 2019 17:13

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