Father of the Internet Talks About His Child’s Future

    September 26, 2008
    Chris Crum

Vint CerfVint Cerf, who is commonly known as the "father of the Internet", has posted an article on the Official Google Blog, as part of their series of experts predicting the future, such as Marissa Mayer did for search and Chad Hurley did for online video. Naturally, Cerf’s topic is the Internet itself.

So where does the father of the Internet see his child progressing over the coming years? Laptops telling you where you left your glasses, and Internet-enabled washing machines. Ok, there’s a little bit more to it than that. He talks about how mobile will become an increasingly important component of the Internet, and how video will become more interactive with more content and ad control given to the consumer.


Cerf’s post has been met with some criticism. "I hesitate to accuse someone as accomplished as Vint Cerf of lacking imagination, but I found his post uninspiring," writes The Noisy Channel. "As he should know better than most, mobile devices are already a major component of the Internet. Greater control of video would be nice, but how about greater control of the world’s information that Google aspires to organize?" Some have even resorted to name-calling as I noticed that someone has been having fun at his expense via his Wikipedia page (though it’s been fixed now).

Where It’s Headed

The video scene is already starting to shift, and his predictions in that realm don’t seem the least bit far-fetched. The part of Cerf’s post I found most interesting was the washing machine part. He’s talking about appliances becoming integrated with the Internet, and even laundry soap becoming available via web service. When I think about Internet Juke boxes and Google being integrated into GPS devices, and Gas pumps, a futuristic web-driven laundromat doesn’t really seem that far-fetched either.  Cerf says:

These are but a few examples of the way in which the Internet will continue to surround and serve us in the future. The flexibility we have seen in the Internet is a consequence of one simple observation: the Internet is essentially a software artifact. As we have learned in the past several decades, software is an endless frontier. There is no limit to what can be programmed. If we can imagine it, there’s a good chance it can be programmed. The Internet of the future will be suffused with software, information, data archives, and populated with devices, appliances, and people who are interacting with and through this rich fabric.

And Google will be there, helping to make sense of it all, helping to organize and make everything accessible and useful.


Some are looking for more unthought-of ideas I suppose, but Cerf is highlighting where he knows the Internet is capable of going, and I don’t see any reason to knock him for it. All of this stuff still seems fairly incredible to me when I consider what the Internet was like ten years ago. Look at how far it has come, and look where it is headed. It’s going to be more integrated with more aspects of daily life, and that is what I believe Cerf is driving at. It’s also got numerous sci-fi movie plot tendencies written all over it.