"The father of the Internet," Google chief Internet evangelist Vinton G. Cerf, explains how it works and what's needed as billions more devices connect on Earth and beyond. (Washington Post Live)

Google’s Vinton G. Cerf spoke at The Post’s 2016 Transformers live journalism event May 18 in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

“When the original Internet was designed, we assumed that we should allow anything to talk to anything else. But you didn’t have to talk. You could receive a packet and say, ‘I’m not going to talk to you because you haven’t authenticated yourself adequately for my preference.’
“Some of those things have to be built into the Internet of Things and all the other things that are connected to the Internet in order to make sure that only authorized parties are actually communicating.

“This doesn’t stop us from having anonymous communication, which I think is an important part of our society as well, but you can also say, ‘I refuse to talk to you unless you strongly identify yourself to my satisfaction.’ We have to span that full spectrum.

“The thing I worry more than anything about is not the hackers and the people who are attempting to somehow change the function of the Internet. I’m much more worried about software mistakes, bugs, because over the last 70 years or so, we have not learned how to write software that doesn’t have bugs.

“Some of the worst problems that happen on the Internet are not because somebody deliberately caused the problem. It’s because somebody made a mistake. We’ve lost half the networks ability to transport traffic or route it to the right destinations because somebody made a configuration mistake. Now we quickly recognize those things.

“The idea is we need to have much better tools for writing software to avoid some of those stupid mistakes that cause problems in the Internet. I can tell you lots of us in the technical side of the world really care a lot about that.”

Vinton G. Cerf
Chief Internet evangelist