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Vint Cerf's Dream Do-Over: 2 Ways He'd Make the Internet Different


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Vint Cerf speaking to journalists at the 2015 Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Heidelberg, Germany.

Vint Cerf says he would do things somewhat differently if the Internet were created today.

Credit: C. Flemming/Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation

Google chief Internet evangelist and former ACM president Vint Cerf, considered a father of the Internet, speaking last Thursday at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany said he would change a few things about its creation if he could do it again.

"If I could have justified it, putting in a 128-bit address space would have been nice so we wouldn't have to go through this painful, 20-year process of going from IPv4 to IPv6," Cerf said.

He also said he would like to have added public key cryptography if it had been feasible.

However, neither idea was feasible at the time Cerf was helping to create the Internet.

Cerf said 128-bit address space would not have seemed realistic back then because of the effort's experimental mindset at the time. He noted there was a debate about the possibility of variable-length addresses, but supporters of the idea were ultimately overruled because of the extra processing power associated with them. "Because computers were so expensive back then, we rejected the idea," Cerf said.

He also noted the notion of public key cryptography had only recently emerged at the time Internet protocols were being standardized in the late 1970s. "I didn't want to go back and retrofit everything, so we didn't include it," Cerf said.

From IDG News Service
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