Every year the Marconi Prize, named after pioneering radio engineer Guglielmo Marconi, is awarded by the Marconi Society. This year the winner of the award is Internet Hall of Fame Pioneer Peter Kirstein, known for his work on TCP/IP and as one of the fathers of the European part of the Internet. The associated Marconi Symposium is a designer symposium: the winner gets to pick the topic and the speakers. The topic of choice this year was, “The Future Infrastructure of the Internet of Things.”
The symposium features presentations clustered around three broad themes: ‘Infrastructure Requirements and Network Approaches’; ‘Identifiers, Interoperability, Big Data’; and ‘Security, Privacy, and the Civil Society’. These are all themes around which the Internet Society’s paper on Internet of Things identified a number of questions and issues. I hoped that the symposium would answer some of these questions.
But, the judge is still out. The symposium confirmed that this is a space under development where experiments are taking place and where institutions and companies are trying to find and define their niche, or perhaps even a bigger space. The Internet of Things is going to happen; we just don’t know how yet. There will be tussles, there will be incidents, there will be failures and successes. In that spirit, Vint Cerf summarized the meeting with a number of keywords: Risk, Trust, Abstractions, Simplification, Scaling, Repurposing of Information, Integration, Strong Authentication, Legal Frameworks, Safety, Privacy and Security. When you look at those keywords it is clear that there will be a lot of work in all aspects, and the (Internet) Society intends to make sure that the end result is a benefit to us all.
When talking to Peter Kirstein during one of the breaks, he observed (I paraphrase): “When we built the Internet we were under the radar, there were no big commercial interests, and it allowed us a decade’s worth of tweaking and improving before commerce got an interest.” This is different with the Internet of Things. Analysts predict a market of trillions of Euros in over a decade and everybody is trying to get a piece of that pie. It is under that stress that we collectively have the responsibility and opportunity to build an open and accessible and trustworthy Internet of Things.
The Internet Society was, for the second year in a row, a sponsor of the event and provided the live stream. Watch the symposium at: http://livestream.com/internetsociety/Marconi2015.
Photo Credit: Jennie Bourne