Vint Cerf: Engineering the Internet

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Whether you're streaming your favourite TV show, video conferencing with colleagues, posting a photo of your food on Instagram, or helping to build a to a global, community-driven supercomputer – you need the internet.

Throughout history there have been several feats of engineering that have forever changed the way that we communicate, and how we see our world – inventions such as the printing press, the telegraph, and the steam engine all fundamentally altered daily human life. One of the most recent of these life-changing innovations is the internet. With around 4.5 billion people online in 2020, few other innovations can compare to the internet’s sheer ubiquity, speed, and global impact.

This ‘network of networks’ is pervasive; it's created a degree of global connectivity that would not have been thought possible 50 years ago. With just a few clicks, we can work with people thousands of miles away, keep up to date with local or global news, monitor core infrastructure, and learn a variety of new skills. There’s also a lot of pet videos to watch.

The internet is now weaved through nearly every aspect of modern life and yet, despite this familiarity we have with it, for most people there are still a lot of unknowns. How does an email actually travel from place to place? Is access to information a human right or is it owned by corporations? Is fake news here to stay? Can we make an internet in space?

In this episode of Create the Future, we answer those questions with one of the internet’s creators: QEPrize winner, chief internet evangelist, and trademark three-piece suit wearer, Vint Cerf. We explore his work creating the fundamental protocols of the internet, unpack what it means to evangelise the internet, and discuss the biggest challenges that face the internet’s future.

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