#669: Internet Co-Inventor Vint Cerf on Decentralized Internet Challenges

vint-cerf-marsVint Cerf is a co-inventor of the Internet, and he’s currently working as a Vice President at Google at their Chief Internet Evangelist. With all of the ethical discussions about the dangers of centralization of power and influence for censorship and surveillance, then this may seem like an odd choice for some people. But Cerf takes believes in creating an open and free Internet where access to information and knowledge is free and universally available, and there hasn’t been any viable alternative economic model implemented that could sustain the depth and breadth of services that Google provides. Decentralized blockchain architectures could change the underlying technological, cultural, and potentially economic norms, but Cerf is cautious and skeptical until there’s more pragmatic evidence of that. There are too many open questions around maintainability, reliability, scalability, economies of scale, and archivability of these decentralized architectures for them to be considered as a viable alternative to existing architectures.

I had a chance to interview Cerf at the Decentralized Web Summit to talk about his concerns and open problems that need to be solved with decentralized architectures. Cerf has been through many pendulum swings from centralization to decentralization and back again, and so he puts forth some compelling open questions and challenges to the larger decentralized community that need to be solved before the benefits of decentralized architectures start to outweigh all of the costs and uncertainties.


There is also a lot of optimism and idealism that comes with the possibilities of blockchain technologies including new cultural norms and market dynamics, but Cerf thinks that there still some foundational economic dynamics that may not change when it comes to the concentration of wealth and power with economies of scale. Cerf weighs in on all of these open questions, what concerns him about the future of the Internet, and he defines some open problems for the next generation of decentralized architects to solve.

Here’s Cerf’s talk at the Decentralized Web Summit.

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Music: Fatality

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