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The Internet’s Coming of Age

Pioneer in computer communications Louis Pouzin on BUniverse

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Watch Louis Pouzin on BUniverse.

Computer communications pioneer Louis Pouzin understands well the challenges that accompanied the development of the Internet and the serious challenges that remain, particularly in terms of the social, political, and economic fabric of a globalized world. These challenges include conflicts of interest, multinational squabbles, and the technological dominance of certain cultures.

Pouzin discusses the current state of the Internet and the critical issues that will affect its future, such as Internet governance, control of critical resources, and business applicability of the current Internet platform. He also addresses the effectiveness of the network, which was primarily developed based on technical expertise, in a multipolar world, where politics, language, culture, and religion often intersect and diverge. Ultimately, he says, the continued growth and integration of the Internet will require the cooperation, at many levels, of various groups.

It is important to note that despite all kinds of disagreements and service interruptions, the Internet has been well engineered and is largely resistant to physical trouble, Pouzin says. Access can still be problematic, particularly in the developing world, he says.

But the lack of clear international standards creates opportunities for monopolies to stake competing claims without interference or oversight, he warns. The coming decade, he says, will include further technological evolution, tensions between the “connected” and the “disconnected,” a familial-social divide, ethnic, cultural, geographic, and religious clashes, nonexistent or obsolete legislation, and alternative communities.

May 7, 2009, 5 p.m.

595 Commonwealth Avenue

About the speaker:

Louis Pouzin is a pioneer in computer communications. He invented the concept of datagams, or connectionless communication, as the foundation for modern networking. As the director of the Cyclades project in the 1970s, at the Institut de Recherche d’Informatique et d’Automatique in France, Pouzin designed and directed the development of the Cyclades network, the first to use datagrams and the concept of end-to-end protocols, later adopted by the Internet.

Pouzin graduated from Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and has served as dean of information technology at THESEUS, a France telecom institute. He has published more than 80 articles and a book on computer networks and has received numerous awards for his contributions to computer science and networking, including the French Légion d’Honneur.

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