IGF 2022 Day 1 WS #491 The future of Interplanetary networks-A talk with Vint Cerf – RAW

The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF intervention. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.



>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Okay. Thank you very much. Firstly, I'd like to give the floor to our online moderator, Mohammad, who will introduce us all to the topic. Thank you.

>> MOHAMMAD ALI JAUHAR: Hello, everyone. Good morning, good afternoon. Today, we will talk about the Future of Interplanetary networking. This is not new. However, with a push for further development. The plan is we need to have a programme working which is essential for communication.

During this session, we'll talk about the potential of interplanetary networking, the challenges associated with it. Both technologically, legally, geopolitically, and everything.

And besides, talk about the future of the Internet. What we imagine the future is going to be.

So first, I'd like to introduce you to our speakers. The first person to speak in the session is a person who needs no introduction. We owe a lot to the Internet that we are celebrating today.

Remind us all about his primary roles and get inspired to work toward the same. I'll just briefly introduce him. We all know Vinton Cerf as Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist right now. Contributes to global policy and business development. As you all know, he's also widely known as the founding father of the Internet. He is the co‑designer of the protocols of the Internet. He's served in executive position at Internet Society, the ICANN. And also on different university.

He's been awarded multiple awards and fellowships. He's a member of the World Society and Academy of Engineering. He's a fellow of American Association for Advancement of Signs. He's been awarded the prestigious ACM Trading Award.

Once again, we would like to thank him since he has agreed to speak with us, to talk with us youth. And we welcome him to begin the session.

Our other speakers are Veronica Piccolo, Mauricia Cindy Abdol Tshilunda, and Nicolas Fiumarelli. Mauricia is currently a candidate in economics. She works with the European Commission. She has been involved a lot with the Youth IGF involvement. She is currently holding the Chairperson of the Internet Society.

Mauricia is CEO of Data Communications. She has a background in communication and psychology. She also works closely with the Internet Governance related to the youth.

Nicolas is a software network engineer. He has three jobs. In security. And has previously worked for development of technologies.

Now, we shall start the session. So my first question is to Vint. Vint, I would like to ask you, like, interplanetary networking has been here for a long time since I guess 1998. And you have also been in the ISOC chapter. But I would like to ask why this renewed (?) because it has been for a long time an objective. Does this reflect the interplanetary exploration, from SpaceX and other companies involved?

>> VINT CERF: So thank you very much. I hope you can all hear me. I'm asking the AV staff if they'll put my slides up for me. I'm going to try to give you a very, very quick introduction to where this interplanetary networking idea came from.

So let's see whether we can get the slides up. While they're working on that, let me say that the project got its beginning in 1998 just after the Pathfinder Project landed successfully on Mars. I wonder if we can close the door. We're getting a lot of noise.

Some of you may know the first landings on Mars were in 1976. Viking 1 and 2. For 20 years after that, nothing worked. Every crashed and missed the planet. In '97, a small pathfinder landed in a little rover in a bouncing balloon on Mars. It was so successful I flew out to the jet propulsion laboratory and talked to the engineering team that was handling communications from the surface of Mars back to Earth.

Some of you may know that there is a deep‑space network that was built in 1964 or so. Three big 70‑meter dishes and a number of 26‑meter dishes in three places around the world. Madrid, Spain, Canberra, Australia, and Goldstone, California. As the world is rotating, the antennas can see into the solar system.

The successful landing caused us to meet in March of 1998. You can go to the next slide, please. Oh, I got a clicker here. How about that? This is the preamble. We landed on Mars in '97. Then we landed again in 2004 with the Spirit and Opportunity. So the team I met at the Jet Propulsion Lab asked themselves the question in 1998, what should we be doing in 1998 that we are going to need 25 years from now? 25 years from then is 2023. It's next year. So we decided to start working on an interplanetary backbone network.

The first thing that we thought was that we ought to be able to use TCP/IP. If works on Earth. Why wouldn't it work on Mars? Then we started to do the math. It turns out the distances between Earth and Mars in our respective orbits is literally astronomical. When we're closest together, it's 35 million miles. At the speed of light, it takes 3 1/2 minutes for the signal to go. Of course, 3 1/2 minute to come back.

When we're farthest apart in our orbits, it's 235 million miles. That's 20 minutes one way. 40 minutes round trip time.

The TCP Flow control system does not work well with a 40 minute round‑trip time.

There's another problem. The planets are rotating. We don't know how to stop that. So if you're talking to something on the surface and the planet rotates, after a while, you can't talk to it until it comes back around again. Same problem with some of the satellites.

So what do we have? We have a variably delayed and disrupted communication environment. Rather different from the parameters of the terrestrial Internet.

So we started developing a new suite of protocols we now call the Bundle Protocols. Oh, there's another problem, too. Think about doing domain name lookup. You're on Mars, you do a DNS lookup on something on Earth. 20 minutes later or something, you get an answer back with an IP address that isn't valid anymore because whatever it was just moved to a different Wi‑Fi interface.

So we started working on the Bundle Protocols. There are several features of it. The most important one is it stores data in the network which the Internet does not do. Now, the Internet was designed in 1973 when memory was very expensive. And the idea of storing information in the routers didn't make a lot of sense. Besides, with the low latencies, you leave it stored at the source and retransmit if necessary. Imagine that you're transmitting from Earth to Jupiter and get to the relay on Mars. The last thing in the world you want to do is to throw the data away after it got to Mars because you don't happen to have a link yet to the Jupiter destination because of planetary motion.

So you store the data in the network at the relay on Mars. That's one of the features of the Bundle Protocol. With regard to DNS lookups and routing and things like that, instead of doing a lookup before you transmit, what you do in the Bundle Protocol is transmit to the planet you're trying to get to and then after you get there, you figure out how to get to the actual destination. So it's a two‑phase lookup. One could get to the right planet, or the right asteroid or the right moon or the right spacecraft.

So we set up a group of people to standardize the Bundle Protocols which we have been doing in two tracks. The Consultative Committee on Space Data Systems, CCSDS, is made up of all the space‑faring countries around the world. They produce Bundle Protocol standards and eventually go to the International Standards Organisation and are ratified there.

At the same time, we also started up a similar group in the Internet Engineering Taskforce. So we have parallel standardization of Bundle Protocol. It's now Version 7. We've been iterating finding our mistakes and fixing them.

I realize I'm running out of time here. What was very exciting and interesting is that after we started our work in 1998, we had prototype software terrestrially. Then Spirit and Opportunity landed on Mars in January of 2004. And the plan was to transmit data from the surface of Earth ‑‑ sorry, surface of Mars back to Earth to the deep‑space network at the blazing speed of 28.5kilobits per second. The scientists were not very happy about that. But that's what the plan was. So they turned on the radios and overheated. Now, don't ask me why we didn't know that was going to happen before we sent them to Mars. In any case, the engineer said we have to back off on the duty cycle in order to keep the radios from overheating or damaging sensor systems on Spirit and Opportunity.

Now the scientists are really grumpy until one of the engineers at JPL said, you know, we have an X‑band radio on each of the rovers and have the orbiters that were sent to Mars a couple of years before to map the surface of Mars to figure out where the rover should go. The orbiters were still functional. They still had power, antennas and programmable capability. And transmission capability.

So we reprogrammed both the rovers and the orbiters from Earth, transmitted the new protocols to Mars, and we have been running those prototype protocols since 2004. Not only on Spirit and Opportunity but also on, let's see if we can get ‑‑ there we go. On virtually every other lander that has landed since 2004 is running the prototype store and forward software. So we basically ‑‑ the rovers hold onto their data until an orbiter comes overhead. It transmits the data up to the orbiter which holds onto the data until it gets to the right place in its orbit to transmit to the deep‑space network.

Here's the icing on the cake. Because the orbiters are only a few hundred miles up, the data rate going from the rovers to the orbiters is 128 kilobits a second. Because the orbiters are outside of the atmosphere, more power and bigger antennas, they can transmit data back to the deep‑space network at 128kilobits per second. We got four times the data rate by going store and forward. So even this tiny little network with three nodes, basically, the orbiters, the ones on the ground, and Earth, demonstrated the utility of store and forward packet switching which has been used in every single one of the landers on Mars since that time from the NASA missions.

So we are at the point today where we've been operating these things and testing them and improving the protocols since that time. And I won't go through every one of these examples. But we wanted to test whether these protocols would work in realtime as well as working in a highly delayed environment.

One of the missions ‑‑ let's see if I can find where it was. In 2012, we had an astronaut in the International Space Station using the Bundle Protocol steering a robot in Germany in realtime using the Bundle Protocols. The point we wanted to make there is even though the protocols were designed for a highly delayed environment, when you have low latency, they work just like TCP/IP does. That was good news.

The second thing we did at the bottom of the screen here is we wanted to test these protocols to see if they would run at high speed. So we used an optical transceiver from Earth to the moon and transmit and run the Bundle Protocols at 600 megabits per second. We demonstrated new kinds of protocols operate both at high speed and also low latency. And also in the highly delayed and disrupted environment in deep space.

So I have a lot of other slides here that I'm not going to waste time on. They're tracking various events that have taken place during the course of our work.

What I want to emphasize is that it's now 2022. We have been on the International Space Station with the latest Bundle Protocols. We are in the process of ‑‑ in fact, we now launched the Artemis I mission. Some of our protocols are onboard the small spacecraft, that are part of the Artemis I mission. Of course, we're now working with NASA on the Luminet and Moonlight, all communications programmes that will be start of the Artemis programme.

The technical state of affairs are very advanced. Standards have been done well. There's an Interplanetary Network Special Interest Group that's part of the Internet Society. It was formed in 1998. We now have a team of about 30 people implementing the Bundle Protocols all around the Earth around terrestrially to test on different platforms, different operating systems and low‑latency environments on planet Earth. We expect these to run just as well in the highly variable environment in the rest of the solar system.

So we are now confronted with a very different problem. I'll end here to say that as we look not at the technology, but at what happens when you deploy something like this, the Artemis mission is involved in the private sector, immediately, right away, at the beginning, there will be private sector communications and will be private sector mining on the moon. Doesn't that raise questions in your mind like you mean you can own a mine on the moon? Where do you register your ownership? What happens if there's a dispute over the claim? Which jurisdiction do you resolve the dispute? Though, it turns out there are a set of agreements called Artemis Accords that are basically conventions. They're not treaties, but they're conventions by the parties who are participating in the Artemis mission. They are the beginning ‑‑ to answer the question ‑‑ what does jurisdiction look like in space in an interplanetary space?

So these are largely unresolved questions. We've been asking those questions of ourselves and the Interplanetary Networking Special Interest Group from the context of a communications system operated by the private sector and by governments, by academia, how do we make that work just like we've had to make it work for the Internet? Lots of different parties operating different pieces of the Internet. Sam argument for the interplanetary backbone. We have to figure out in what jurisdictional regime we're going to invent in order to make this all work

I'll stop there. I apologize if I've gone over time. I hope you can sense from me the excitement that we have that we are at the beginning of the commercialization of space. Well beyond just low‑Earth orbiting satellites which in themselves are wonderful things. But the excitement I feel like I'm in Chapter 2 of a long science‑fiction story. I won't live to see the last chapter. Being around for the first two chapters is a lot of fun. Very exciting. So thank you very much.

>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Vint. That was ‑‑ am I (?) that was on the interplanetary networking. Now I'll hand over the floor to Emilia on‑site sitting next to Vint with a question.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you very much, Mohammad. So I would like to ask Vint and all speakers the question about what challenges do you observe toward a widespread adoption of the interplanetary networking from your perspectives from a technical or geopolitical or geospatial or legal point of view.

First, I will pass the floor to Vint.

>> VINT CERF: I think I hinted a little bit at that when I mentioned the Artemis Accords as the beginning of answering the question, how do we operate in space? I'll tell you one thing I am deeply concerned about. All of you I'm sure must be well aware that huge investments are being made in low‑Earth orbiting satellites. Starlink being the most dramatic example of that. There are lots and lots of other satellites already up there. I'm sad to say that space has already become militarized in the sense that there are demonstrated capabilities to shoot other people's satellites out of the sky. These are developments which I had hoped would not happen.

So the consequences of that are that as we think about not only our low‑Earth orbiting assets but also the possibility exploring the solar system, having private property, how do we create new institutions in order to resolve disputes and to come to agreement about how we will operate together?

So those challenges from the political point of view are significant. And they imply, I hope, a desire among the states to come to a common agreement that we will not treat space in the same way that we treat terrestrial space. That it's a shared environment. I think, if fact, we do have to figure out how to allow ownership and private sector operation.

So that, and, of course, do we have to have a court that's in orbit around the Earth in order to resolve disputes? Or can we do that here? Or maybe we have to set it up on the moon. I think this all remains to be seen. I wish I were your age because you'll see more of this than I will. And it's going to be a challenge to figure out how to do this. So I wish you well in trying to solve those problems. Because I may not be around to help you much longer.

On the other hand, that's what youth is for. It's for solving the problems that the old people made. Mistakes that the old people made, you have to fix them. So good luck.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Okay. I think that's quite a conclusion to that. Nicolas, would you like to comment or add your input?

>> NICOLAS FIUMARELLI: Yes. Nicolas Fiumarelli from Uruguay. One question I have about the jurisdiction of these networks, right, is which IP address we're part of. Maybe we can think of having additional registry for interplanetary things. And the other comment I have is there are shared satellites. These kind of satellites could be in some of the regions. That way, we could be (?) I love that.

>> VINT CERF: This is such a timely question. Literally, the group was talking about this last week. First of all, I'm not persuaded that we want to try to use a single IP address space for the whole solar system. I'm afraid Earth is going it consume IPB6 faster. I don't want Mars to be starved because Earth ate all the IP addresses. I suggest if we run Internet on other planets we run independent Internets, lower case, multiple of them. To connect those together, we use the Bundle Protocols end to end. That's serving the same purpose as TCP/IP did for multiple networks on planet Earth. I would say distinct and separate IP address allocations. We'll go and try to set up a way of allocating distinct and separate IP address spaces for each of the lower case internets we have on the various planets, moons and the like. That's one thing.

The second thing, though, we also need identifiers for the Interplanetary Bundle Protocol. We're in the process now of setting that up as well. We almost certainly copied the autonomous system idea from the Internet except that the autonomous systems in this case might be on different planets.

We're also considering the possibility of putting satellites up in vibration points around Earth and other planets. There's some thinking right now about a possible solar orbit series of relays. No matter where you are in the solar system, you might be able to see a sun orbit relay in order to get to other parts of the solar system.

What I find really interesting about all this is that routing in this environment is much harder than it is in the Internet. Because sometimes the links between the various parts of the system aren't there because of planetary motion. So the analogy that one of our engineers has suggested, Scott Burley, is that Internet is kind of like driving from Los Angeles to New York. There are freeways and they're all connected and you just keep going. Sometimes there's congestion but you don't have to stop, necessarily. On the other hand, the interplanetary system is more like planning a trip from, say, Los Angeles to Addis Ababa, especially if it's not a nonstop flight. So what happens? Well, you go from Los Angeles to, say, New York, and then you land. Then you wait. Because you have to wait for the scheduled flight that will take you to the next hub, which might be direct to Addis Ababa or might be through Frankfurt or something.

So the air travel is very similar to what it's going to be like for interplanetary communication. Humans get stored in the airport temporarily until the flight leaves. Packets get stored in the network until the links come back up. So this is a very different environment. So routing is turning out to be an interesting challenge.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Okay. Nicolas, do you have another comment or?

>> NICOLAS FIUMARELLI: No. I think the idea was very clear. Like, I imagine, like, when the human want to go to Mars, normally, we need to wait until this motion happens. So there is the close distance between the Earth and Mars to send to space, right? So the idea of routing in these terms is, I think, a very good analogy. Yes. For sure.

>> VINT CERF: I can tell you there's another big problem. It's congestion control. Think about this for a minute. In the Internet, packets get thrown away if there's no route to get to the destination. And so that's, in some ways, can be treated as a congestion control mechanism. In this case, the interplanetary system stores data in the routers. So now we have to worry about whether there's space in the routers to hold things until it's possible to transmit them further on. Figuring out how to do the congestion control in a system like that is harder than the Internet that we have today.

There's a man named Leonard Climok, who did his dissertation of storing models, store and forward networks. He broke the really hard problem of how packet switches could work and what mathematical characterizations you could get from them. I wrote in him and said we have this interplanetary backbone idea, but it has rather different characteristics than the classic terrestrial Internet. And he came back with several pages worth of fairly hairy mathematics and said this is a hard problem. So if any of you are looking for a dissertation topic, see me after the conference. Because you have a tough one to follow. This is just so fascinating. And it's why I get excited about it. In case you didn't notice.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you very much. And also previously in your inputs, we also have heard some legal aspects like jurisdiction of the IP network. So good that we have a lawyer with us. It's our next speaker. Veronica Piccolo. Veronica, the floor is yours.

>> VERONICA PICCOLO: Hello, everyone. Hope you can hear me well. So I would like first to thank Vint because this session is gold for all of us. And we for the first time, at least for myself, this is the first time that I actually came across a very specific and technical aspect of interplanetary network. And in the sense I'd like to, you know, to throw some thoughts to you. And also ask a question.

So I'm a lawyer. I'm not ‑‑ it's not my role to comment on technical aspects of this, you know, innovation. But as a matter of fact, there are some legal aspect that have everything to do with open standards.

When I graduated, I did my Master's degree on patents. Came across this metaphor that is called Carl Shapiro, Professor of Economics from Berkeley University. To describe cumulative innovation. He used the metaphor of the pyramid. He said that the research is built on top of the previous one like in a pyramid. And in order to scale the pyramid and to place a new block on top, you have to get the permission of each person who placed the block below. And which supports yours. Right?

The problem is when the block is a patent, Vint, you mentioned there is also private companies involved into the deployment of, you know, the development and deployment of interplanetary networks. When private company come up with some funding, they usually tend to patent those findings. And when this block of new knowledge is patented, you have to pay handsomely to lay your block on top of it.

In the ICT industry, there's a large, huge amount of patents. And some patents get included into standards. What we call, SEP. When this happens, it creates a bottleneck where all have to pay to implement the standards. It gives the patent holder a huge power because he can (?) And the growth, the development, for that innovation.

This isn't just theoretical because we have a consistent case load of antitrust and litigation, both in European Union and in the United States concerning 4G and 5G technologies. And we are talking about millions of dollar worth antitrust disputes.

The reason why a patent becomes a SEP are many. Sometimes are market driven. Some others it's because the standardization process is not very transparent. The fact that is when a private company usually join, a standard set in organisation, they should be obliged to disclose. And allow, in order to allow the SSO to find a technical norm. In case no alternative can be found, they should commit to royalties like we call.

But not all the SSOs provide for mandatory disclosure. They provide penalties for violation. So this is my question to Vint. Internet evangelist, and Google is one of the main Internet players now. Also one of the most outstanding personality of the technical community. How in order, you know, to better ‑‑ to have a better use of interplanetary network from a market perspective, how can we keep into consideration this kind of process when it comes to multistakeholder model and standardization in order to develop hope in standards when it comes to interplanetary networks.

>> VINT CERF: This is a very timely question. Thank you for formulating it so well. First of all, all the standards associated with the interplanetary system are open standards. They're completely free. They are strictly voluntary. They're available online and in the Internet Engineering Taskforce archives. Available from CCSDS and from ISO. Although, I haven't looked to see whether ISO charges you for access to those standards. But they're all the same.

So the community that's doing the interplanetary work believes in open standards. We generally tend to reject things that have patent constraints and restrictions on them.

I do want to make a distinction between the protocols and the architecture which is entirely open and someone's implementation of it. It's not unreasonable for someone to build an implementation and ask to be paid for its use. This so not too different than writing a piece of software and expecting to be compensated for allowing someone to make use of it.

So we don't reject the idea of patenting a piece of software. To be quite blunt and frank with you, I think patenting software is a big mess and probably ‑‑ I wish the decision that had been made to patent software had not been made. Just because the open access to software has been so important and valuable.

Just a small example of that, everybody will remember, well, some of you, anyway, when the first Worldwide Web was announced in 1991. I believe that was 30 years ago. Some of you might not even have been born then. But the idea there was that Tim gave that away, basically released the HTTP protocol. He said he did that because that's what Bob and I did with the TCP/IP protocols. Look what happened after that. He also invented HTML. Web pages started to pop up. The cool thing about the browsers of the day, including the ones that followed Tim Berneres‑Lee original one. What was the HTML you used to make the website? You could do show source. The job of webmaster which didn't exist before 1991 was created by people trying things out and borrowing from each other and copying each other's HTML and modifying it. That's a perfect example of how open source can be a dramatic enabler of innovation.

So I'm a big fan, generally speaking, of these things. But I accept the point if someone is invested heavily in a piece of software, or a piece of hardware, they might want to patent it.

I will say that I've had more success with openness than anything else. But then, you know, you can make other arguments.

At Google, for example, because we didn't want to have to pay extensive royalties for video encoding, we developed two alternative open source solutions. VP8 and VP9. So I think there are good reasons to want to stick with the open‑source model where we can.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you very much, Vint, for this very interesting exchange of comments.

So now I would like to pass the floor to our fourth speaker, Mauricia.

>> MAURICIA CINDY ABDOL TSHILUNDA: Thank you so much for passing the mic, Emilia. Very much appreciate it. Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, everyone, wherever you are based in the world. A big thank you, actually, goes especially to Dr. Cerf for making this time possible, really, and for saying yes to our proposal.

We did not take it lightly. And we are just hoping that everyone else in the room will also be able to benefit greatly from this exchange today.

You will notice further on in the session as well that all of us come from various backgrounds. So we are dealing with a multistakeholder approach really to addressing interplanetary networks and its challenges.

From my perspective, I really like to focus on the social challenges that I'm quite concerned about. In the African context, we have at least just in South Africa, if I should mention numbers, about 47 million of our people in our population are currently using mobile devices in order to communicate. When we look at this disparity in our rural communities, this becomes more skewed toward the male gender than the female gendered population in our country. And I can say the same for very traditional communities within the rest of the country. And the continent.

I wanted to ask how this will ‑‑ the fact that interplanetary networks focuses on increasing the communication, output between devices. How will this affect the outcome for women and girls in underprivileged communities who don't have access to devices, firstly, and whose devices are largely controlled by the male counterparts in their communities. I'm concerned that if there's not a balance in this approach, or that access being given to more developed communities as opposed to developing communities when it comes to the outputs or testing of interplanetary networks that this would widen the digital divide within the developing regions of our world.

I would also like to ask you about universal access. As you might be aware, we also within the Global South and also within largely underdeveloped communities or developing states, we have a myriad of languages. So when it comes to universal acceptance, are these components being taken into consideration when the protocols are being developed and advanced and bettered and improved? I want to also ask from you, Mr. Cerf, what your views are on that. And whether this will be able to include the end user at the end of the day. Where I know we're looking at space. I know we're looking at how it can affect geospatial issues. How it can affect various patent rules and various rights in space. But it also will affect what happens on the ground. So the social aspects can be widening if it's not being considered in what is being developed. So I want to hear your thoughts on that. Is it being taken into consideration?

>> VINT CERF: This question, the way you formulated it, reminds me of a final exam in a physics class. Describe the universe in 25 words or less and give three examples.


So there's ‑‑ I'll try to unpack the question a little bit. First of all, the protocols, as far as I can tell, are gender neutral. They don't notice who is using them. The packets don't know who sent them and who is receiving them. I would like to see more women involved in the interplanetary development work. We have some spectacular women involved in it, though. One of them is Laura Suzuki who's in the UK. She's a Google specialist in artificial intelligence. She's been exploring federated machine learning in the context of the Bundle Protocol system in the belief that if we have multiple missions that are gathering data and trying to learn from the information they're getting in order to train machine‑learning models to identify that's an interesting rock, what makes it interesting? But if you know about machine learning, you know that you have to run it through many, many different samples.

The idea that she has with federated learning, you can imagine having multiple rovers exploring different parts of Mars. Each of them doing machine learning for what they're picking up. Then you take the models that have been generated for identifying what's an interesting rock and you meld them together by taking the models, not the data, itself, but the models that then get essentially brought together and trained as a federated model and hope the result is you get a really smart system that recognizes unusual rocks based on learning from multiple sites.

So Laura is one of a number of women who are participating.

I don't know if any of you saw a film from the U.S. called "Hidden Figures," but it was about the women who did the calculations for the Apollo programme. It was women who did that work. And I can tell you when I went to work for IBM in 1965, half of the people in my systems engineering class were women. And some of them weren't even math majors. They were history majors and English majors. I asked the trainer from IBM. Said, why are you bringing people in from English and history and so on? He said, well, they don't know how to programme yet. So they don't have to unlearn bad habits. We want them to programme the IBM way.

So I'm disappointed to tell you that the statistics of computer science classes and math classes has declined from the 50%, 50/50 level, to something significantly less than that. I think a lot of that has to do with sociology. In other words, okay, guys, it's our fault, you know. Young people ‑‑ I was young once, in case you don't know that. Full of hormones and everything else. We need to recognize that women bring to the table disciplines that sometimes the guys don't have.

So I want to encourage more women. I'm so happy to see a number of you here in this room. To pursue this and insist on your place at the table.

So I don't think the protocols, themselves, have very much to do with that sociological problem. We just have to make sure that they're available on equal terms and conditions to everyone who wants to use them. And the same thing goes, of course, for education. That's a place where we do need to make a change. Sometimes there are cultures that say women shouldn't take classes or be educated. That's wrong. It wastes half the talent in the world, and that's stupid, frankly. Or you can pick your favorite adjective if you want. So let's fix that.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you very much. Thank you for highlighting the role of women. I think it is something very, very essential to bring to the debate as often as possible.

So we'll start the Q&A part. Firstly, we have a question from the chat. Then there will be time to have a question from the audience here on‑site. So you can prepare your questions.

And now I will read the question from Bo Han. A question to Vint. Can you talk something about Bluewalker 3? Because it can be seen the largest LEO satellite. The interesting thing is AST SpaceMobile used SpaceX's spaceship to launch their satellite. It seems a kind of business alliance. Do you think in this kind of situation there will be a kind of business alliance which are willing to constrain their own behavior? This is the question.

>> VINT CERF: The question had to do with something called Bluewalker 3 about which I know nothing. My first answer is I don't know. But I will say that the emergence of commercial lift capacity and the reduction in cost per pound to get things in orbit is really a dramatic turning point for entry into space.

I have to give a lot of credit to Elon Musk for his determination to make reusable spacecraft in order to get the costs of launch lower and lower over time.

The other big thing, of course, literally, is his Starship. Its lift capability, if successful, is 100 to 200 tons which is just an enormous amount of capacity.

The thing that I find the most amazing, when I grew up it was science fiction that a rocket would land on its tail. That was television science fiction shows. Of course, watching Blue Horizons ‑‑ or Blue Origins and SpaceX rockets landing on their tail is for me, holy cow, we've just gone through a time warp. From 1954 to 2022. And now it's real. So I'm very excited about that. Driving cost out opens up opportunities for people to engage in space exploration of use of space in a way that they could never have done before because of cost.

And so this partnership between government agents, or agencies, and the private sector, in my view, is a really powerful combination. There's a term for this, called hypergolic. If you mix the two things together, they blow up. That's kind of what's happening with this public and private sector partnership.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you very much for the response. And now if you have any questions, okay, I see the questions. Okay. I think you were the first one.

>> VINT CERF: This is my good friend, Khaled Fattal. What's your question?

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Question or not.

>> Thank you, Vint. My name is ‑‑

>> VINT CERF: You want to get to a microphone?

>> Thank you. Can you hear me, everybody, online? My name is Khaled Fattal, chairman of the MLI group. When dinosaurs used to roam through the WSIS process. We were there. We're the dinosaurs.

>> VINT CERF: We're the talking dinosaurs.

>> So this is on a light‑hearted note. Vint, I share with you your horror, the thought that today, space has been militarized. Here's a thought I'm going to ask you and propose to the audience. In the process of developing this interplanetary Internet, to avoid that space becoming militarized, what if we recognize that part of the fact it got militarized is because the satellites belong to either organisations, companies, they belong to a certain sovereignty. In fact, it could be U.S. companies that have satellites. Russian, Chinese, et cetera. And, therefore, they become part of the geopolitical problem.

Here's my proposition. Tell me if you agree. It's a debate for everybody. What if we were to announce that all development to do with interplanetary Internet is to serve humanity and the extraterrestrial species we might discover. We make it about serving ‑‑ you laugh at this. You see where I'm going with that. We can't assume we're the only people ‑‑ we're the only existing species. Plus, if we make it about serving humanity, and we get all of our political leaders to acknowledge this, then we take it away from being militarized. It's just a thought. Something for us to consider. What do you think, Vint? You claimed that I'm your friend as well.

>> VINT CERF: Yes. So, first issue is that it's too late in the sense that we already see weapons in space. We see, you know, anti‑satellites and capabilities just like that. So our problem is to at least try to limit any further expansion of that aspect of space.

They talk about extraterrestrials. If we ever get to that point, then we'll be worried about Martian porn or something.


Let me suggest to you that we might be able to go part of the way to where you want to go. Think about the law of the sea. Think about the practices that we've adopted to recognize boundaries of national control and areas that we consider to be in international waters. Space could be treated the same way. It's not impossible for us to imagine private property on the moon. We have a lot of questions about where do you register, how do you maintain that ownership? Who do you pay? How do you make a claim? But it's not incompatible with adopting policies that are compatible with your idea. It's the decisions about salvage, the high priority of rescue. If you're out on the high seas and somebody's in trouble, there's an obligation for vessels in the area to respond. And so the idea that we might build a space‑based practice analogous to that, we might not have to go as far as you're suggesting to get an environment where there is more likely collaboration than conflict.

And I can tell you that planetary space, planetary assets are literally few and far between. Far apart. There is more willingness to collaborate and share. So you see a lot of joint missions. The International Space Station is an example. The Gateway Mission for Artemis is another example.

The use of multiple relays in the current Mars communication system is the mix of satellites from the U.S. and Europe.

So it feels like there's at least an opportunity to go in the direction that you're suggesting, and try to adopt that as our primary principle, which is that this is an environment which is so big and vast that we need to collaborate and share our resources if we're going to make good use of it. I really do think there should be private players and public players and they should be able to work together. As they do in the Internet. There are private pieces of Internet. There are public pieces of Internet. There are academic pieces. They all play together because they adopted the same standard technical protocols. Same argument could be made for the interplanetary network. I hope it comes out that way.

>> A follow‑up. I'm glad it resonated with you. The challenge that I find with using this model is along the same line of the experience you had when you joined IBM. You saw so many ladies who were there because you wanted ‑‑ they want ‑‑ IBM wanted to train them because they have not picked up the bad habits. If we bring in something that exists, we end up getting stuck in the quagmire of not figuring out how to get out of it. The point I was making here is it's much easier to adopt an ethos position that the development of interplanetary Internet space, et cetera, is to serve humanity full stop. Bottom line. That becomes everything else. I think it's a lot simpler, proposing it will be a lot simpler to get something going. Perhaps, we can implement other models that can fit. The ethos is serve humanity. Not serve sovereignties. My 2 cents.

>> VINT CERF: The Artemis Accords are like that in a sense they're multiparty agreements. Both private sector and countries. So in a sense, it's a start.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you very much. So I will read the final question from the chat. And also ‑‑

>> VINT CERF: How about I read it so I ‑‑


>> VINT CERF: Okay. Here's the question. Do these delay tolerant networks store and receive packet switching, or storing forward, actually, have an application here on Earth for communities that face frequent Internet shutdowns as a way to send and receive relevant communications about safety and everything else?

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: And the same time, if you could just do the final remarks for the session.

>> VINT CERF: Sure. Let me mix that together. Okay. So the answer is yes, we believe that there are definitely ways to use these store forward and store in the network delay tolerant protocols. They actually work in mobile environments where you have intermittent connectivity. The system doesn't break because it holds onto things until the links come back up again. So the protocol doesn't get excited about it like TCP would.

So there's utility in environments where there is noise and interference. Shutdowns are a different thing because if there's no way to carry the traffic, you need some bit‑carrying capability or the Internet and the interplanetary protocols don't work. So something has to carry the bits. But if you can let the bits cross borders, radio transmissions across borders, satellite‑to‑ground, are all possible ways of overcoming a deliberate attempt to shut down the Internet.

I have to say, though, that before you get too excited about that, that if you are using the Internet when your country doesn't want you to, even if you're using a dish that's talking to a satellite overhead, you are going to radiate signals. And if the signals are detectable, then they are potentially locatable. If they're locatable, you're at risk. You have to be careful thinking it's a satellite‑based system or because it's delay tolerant, that somehow you get something for free.

Nonetheless, I do think that the tolerance, delay tolerance, and disruption tolerance will be useful in some applications. Sensor networks, in particular.

Okay. I do love this one. There are reindeer herders up in the northern part of Sweden and Norway and northern part of Europe. The Sami tribes have been herding reindeer for 8,000 years. A team decided they were going to use delay and disruption tolerant networking to track the reindeer by putting transmitters around the necks of the reindeer. They wandered around. Sometimes they're in radio contact. Sometimes they're not. So it's a great test of whether the protocols will work in this variably delayed and disrupted environment. So they have been running this DTN system for about a decade now together with the Sami reindeer herders. There's an example of a very practical thing. You can imagine devices that are doing sensors ‑‑ doing sensing for a state, for example. Or maybe there are sensors that are concerned about earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Those sensors probably won't be incontinuous connectivity. You have batteries and you don't want the batteries to run all the time. Imagine using the DTN environment and protocols in order to service those episodic and, say, sporadic, communications. So I think there really are useful applications on Earth.

I'm just hoping that some of you will get excited enough about this to go to IPNSIG.org. Interplanetary Network Special Interest Group. Join the group there. Follow what's going on and maybe even contribute to it. There's a project working group that's implementing those protocols on all kinds of different platforms. It would be fun to have the IGF folks part of the programme. So I welcome you to do that.


>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you a lot. As the last part of the session, I'd like to pass the floor to Mohammad who's the online moderator and the initiator of this session. So the reason why we are all here today. Mohammad, the floor is yours.

>> MOHAMMAD ALI JAUHAR: I'd like to thank Nicolas, especially Vint, and other speakers as well. You've been very kind to accept the offer of invitation to speak to this session. And it was, indeed, very meaningful. It's still a quite technical topic, but it was great to have such a good response from the audience. There's more conversation, but we don't have any time left.

So really, if we want to continue this discussion in the future as well. The youth. Everyone, please join the ISOC Youth as well. Please, also consider joining.

And in the concluding remark, so what I will say is that the future of the Internet is evolving. And we have different development in a lot of different places. Whether it's proliferation of the artificial intelligence and IoT network networking. So we have a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities as well. And if you work together and if we are collaborating with each. So let's focus on the future. And we hope that we'll have continued discussion on all these topics and be able to see you on in a future session as well. Thank you.

>> EMILIA ZALEWSKA: Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Vint, thank you, Nicolas, Veronica, Mohammad, and Mauricia.