World Internet Day (World Day for the Information Society and Telecommunications) is a special day dedicated to the Network of Networks, which is celebrated annually by the UN every May 17. The chosen day corresponds to the founding of the International Telecommunication Union in 1865, when the first International Telegraph Convention was held in Paris.
The theme chosen for the World Internet Day 2020 is «Connect 2030: ICTs for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)» and will serve to present the Connect 2030 Agenda and how technological advances will contribute in the next 10 years to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations.
The 2030 Agenda recognizes that the spread of information technology, communications and global interconnection have great potential for accelerate human progress and close the digital divide. The transition to smart and sustainable development is the topic of reflection this year for all the members of the ITU (the oldest intergovernmental organization in the world), together with the search for specific solutions enabled by ICTs to promote economic and environmental sustainability. and social, contributing to the five strategic objectives of this Connect 2030 Agenda:
Thousands of institutions and corporations around the world are planning to hold events to celebrate this World Internet Day. In Spain, the central act It will take place at 7 pm and can be followed live. It will be welcomed by the President of the Senate and the central debate will be this year on the role of the Internet to emerge from the pandemic; the impact of technology on the most vulnerable groups; cybersecurity in the days of COVID-19; the rural environment and how to combat depopulation with technology and freedom of the press, hoaxes and the right to information.
Little more to say that you do not know the importance of this network that has simply changed our lives at all levels and the history of Humanity itself. As a contribution, we remind you of its beginnings, its current problems and a preview of how the Internet can be in a few decades.
The beginnings of the Internet
Last October was a fundamental anniversary for the Internet, as it was 50 years since two gigantic computers located at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), achieved the first exchange of information between its nodes. The ARPANET network was born, an embryo of the Internet that we know and under the first concepts about “communication networks” that had been published in 1959 by Paul Baran, an engineer who worked on a secure communications network for military purposes capable of surviving a nuclear weapons attack.
Based on this ideas and promoted by ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), the initial design of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) began, a computer network created by order of the US Department of Defense to communicate the different agencies of the country ( and survive nuclear attacks) and who became the embryo of the Internet, although today it has little to do with the original network.
After the first ARPANET connection test between the nodes of the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), located 500 kilometers away. From there, progress was made at a good pace. In 1970 the ARPANET network was established between Harvard, MIT and BNN (the company that created the ‘interface message processor’ computers used to connect to the network), while in 1972 the first public demonstration of ARPANET took place and one year later it expanded from the United States to Europe connecting the University College of London with the Californian centers.
In 1973 DARPA launched a research program on techniques for interconnect networks and develop communication protocols. From the philosophy of this project came the name of the Internet that was applied to the system of interconnected networks using the TCP / IP protocols created in the 1970s by one of the “parents of the Internet”, Vint Cerf.
The year 1974 was decisive in the development of the Internet that we know, because a proposal was published to link all ARPANET style networks together in a single inter-network call. Such a network would not have centralized control and would work on a transmission control protocol (which later became TCP / IP).
The Internet took another giant leap in 1977 thanks to the development of what we know as a PC modem. It was developed by Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington and thanks to this, Internet access became popular years later as it allowed communications to be made through the telephone network. Another notable step was the invention of an address system using suffixes such as “.com” and “.org”, in widespread use today.
The big change that gave way to the modern Internet happened on January 1, 1983 when ARPANET completed the migration of the original NCP to the TCP / IP network protocol designed by Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn and that we currently use to transmit data between computers, connect to the Internet and web servers.
Finally, to recall another fundamental step that occurred on March 12, 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee wrote the proposal for a system for the distribution of interconnected hypertext or hypermedia documents accessible via the Internet. From a modest beginning (Berners-Lee simply intended to create a mechanism that would save him from moving from one building to another at the University of Oxford, solving the incompatibility between computers of the academic institution) it became a global project until creating the “Global computer network” that we use today, known as the World Wide Web.
The problems of the current Internet
If 2018 closed as the first year in history where more than half of the world’s population (3.9 billion) was connected to the Internet, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Universal Internet, a goal defined by the UN as the possibility of access to the network of networks of most of the planet’s inhabitants (at least 90%) will not be reached until 2050, at the very least. Much later than planned, consequence of the economic, social, educational and all kinds of inequalities between the regions of the planet.
The increase in Internet accesses recorded in the last decade has decreased dramatically in recent years. The first half of the world was the easiest to put online. Connectivity spread across developed nations where high incomes, advanced education, and dense urban centers paved the way. But the second half of the world will be much more difficult to connect. Many places that remain offline are rural and remote, where the costs of installing mobile Internet towers and other infrastructure can be five times higher than in urban areas.
Experts have warned that some parts of the world will be excluded from the Internet for decades to come if greater efforts and investment are not made to boost the education, online literacy and broadband infrastructure. The delay in establishing a Universal Internet highlights the dramatic digital divide that has opened between those who take advantage of the Internet and its benefits and those who are marginalized because they lack the skills to be online or live in an offline region.
Another of the problems has been pointed out for years by Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the international organization for the standardization of Web technologies, who has expressed his disappointment at the current state of the Internet, running against the uses of large companies. and governments, scandals over the abuse of personal data, mass espionage, (mis) use of social networks or the influence of technology giants.
Along with other great computer scientists and researchers such as the Internet pioneer, Vint Cerf, and the head of the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle, has insisted on the need to re-decentralize the Internet to give more control to users and guarantee a Safer, private and neutral Internet. To do this, it has been working with researchers from MIT (the best technological university on the planet with 80 Nobel laureates) and other centers to develop Solid, an open source project that aims to “restore the power of individuals on the web”, changing radically the WWW by giving the digital citizen full control over their data.
It has also launched a campaign to persuade governments, companies and individuals to sign a “Web Contract”, a set of principles designed to defend a free and open Internet, which we believe we have distanced ourselves from.
The future of the Internet
Celebrating this World Internet Day 2020, our colleagues from MCPRO have published a special focused on the future of the great Network and that we recommend: what will the Network be like in 2070? How will current problems be solved? Where is the Internet going?
A number of experts and scientists try to answer and are not overly optimistic. Everyone wants to believe that in the future the Internet will bring harmony, better communication, a free flow of information and a healthier world. But all this is accompanied by many doubts and warnings.
The new forms of communication how the brain interfaces are going to prevail. You just have to think and then the interface will be in charge of performing the task automatically, greatly facilitating communication, but adding other legal and ethical problems. Internet will be more integrated in our lives And our digital presence will not be independent of the physical world either, but will be integrated into it. By then we will have forgotten about keyboards, mice and screens, and current Internet devices will not exist, but will be preloaded on our consciousness.
Experts also foresee the end of Internet privacy … If it has not already been produced, far from being reduced, it will go further, and the technologies used for it will be increasingly capable of knowing what we want. They will learn from our habits and even come to anticipate our wishes. Advances in health data with the biological data revolution which has already started from the hand of wearables and connected devices that record our activity, is another exposed point. And it will be positive for health, although we will have to see the guarantees of who has these data and how they are used.
In short, colossal challenges await the Network of networks that we honor on this World Internet Day 2020.