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Cyber-pioneer Vint Cerf to headline July 28 forum on the future of Internet

Vint Cerf

Vint Cerf

BY DAVID ORENSTEIN

Vint Cerf is widely known as one of the fathers of the Internet. Like any father, he is interested in his progeny's prospects. Members of the public and the Stanford community can join Cerf and other experts for a discussion of the Internet's future Thursday, July 28, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center.

"While the Internet has already become a pervasive part of everyday life, it is still making major changes to how we do business and live our lives," says Professor William Dally, host of the School of Engineering's 2005 summer forum, "The Internet: Today and Tomorrow," and chair of the Computer Science Department. "The Internet and its impact on society still have a long way to go both technologically and socially."

Looking to advance that understanding, faculty and industry experts at the forum will share and debate the latest thinking on hot topics such as the development of wireless networks, the Internet's impact on traditional media and the ongoing fight against online crime.

Agenda and attendance

Drawing on decades as one of the most influential people in the Internet's history, Cerf will provide the context for the day in a morning keynote speech. In 1973, while a professor in Stanford's Digital Systems Laboratory, Cerf teamed up with Robert E. Kahn of the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (now DARPA) to develop the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Now called TCP/IP (IP stands for "Internet Protocol"), it is the fundamental communications software that allows the Internet to operate as the huge, diverse global network it is today. Cerf is currently senior vice president of technology strategy at MCI and chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

In a private ceremony before the forum begins, the School of Engineering will dedicate a plaque that will hang in the Gates Computer Science Building to commemorate the work of Cerf, Kahn and many other engineers around the world who contributed to the birth to the Internet.

Following Cerf's remarks and an exhibit of computer science graduate student research posters at lunch, Dally, who holds the Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professorship, will host three expert panels:

  • The Wireless Internet. This panel will explore the implications and development of an Internet that can literally reach anywhere. Joan Vandermate, vice president for product management at Siemens Communication USA, will moderate a discussion with Balaji Prabhakar, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Billy Moon, distinguished engineer at networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc.
  • Are CDs, DVDs, Books and Newspapers Obsolete? The Internet's ascendance as a versatile international medium has certainly changed the role of traditional media. Panelists Shona Brown, vice president of business operations at Internet search firm Google; Hilary Schneider, senior vice president at media company Knight Ridder; and Karen Schneider, director of the Librarians' Index to the Internet, will discuss that change and its implications.
  • Can Technology Stop Cybercrime? The good guys must constantly adapt to stay on top of the scams, thefts and attacks that dog the Internet. Moderator Philippe Courtot, chairman and CEO of network security company Qualys; Dan Boneh, associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering; Howard Schmidt, chief security strategist at the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team; and Mary Ann Davidson, chief security officer at software giant Oracle, examine Internet security.
  • The forum is sponsored by the Stanford Center for Professional Development, venture capital firms Alloy Ventures and Mayfield, and network technology firm Packet Design.

    Attendance costs $25 for Stanford alumni and members of the public. Current Stanford faculty, staff and students or members of the media can attend for free but are strongly encouraged to register in advance. The event includes lunch for all registrants. To register, visit http://soe.stanford.edu/alumni/internet/registration.html.

    David Orenstein is the communications and public relations manager at the School of Engineering.