'Father of the Internet' Vint Cerf warns we could be heading towards a digital Dark Age

By Shawn Knight · 67 replies
Feb 13, 2015
Post New Reply
  1. Vint Cerf, often described as the Father of the Internet, believes we may be on the fast track to a digital Dark Age as a result of our heavy reliance on rapidly-changing technology.

    Read more
  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,665   +1,950

    It doesn't matter if he was at the Internet's footsteps, it doesn't make him a visionary today, more like a doom's day monger and a fool. We all have our ups and downs in life, times of enlightenment and times of being dumb. It's kind of important to recognize which one is when.

    Also, old people fall out of the technology curve naturally, becoming bitter resemblance of their former self, because technology development continuously accelerates, which in itself pushes away older generations.

    If the entire cloud infrastructure goes kaboom today, it will be restored in no time, because the world's economy depends on it entirely.

    Old technology not compatible - stop fooling yourself, will you!. We have the entire ZX and Nintendo collection of games that can run on Windows 8.1 through emulators. We have all of the scrolls from Alexandria digitized, for crisake... We have HDD-s today capable of storing just about every book ever written. SO, quit bitching, and get on the wagon! :)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
  3. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Evangelist Posts: 814   +371

    What a silly outlook.
  4. Kraid

    Kraid TS Rookie

    VitalyT, couldn't have said it better.
    VitalyT likes this.
  5. MikeFette

    MikeFette TS Rookie

    This outlook is very nearsighted and displays an ignorance of how technology actually works. This isn't just an old man rambling, this could be a possibility. Consider this scenario. Someone, whom exactly is irrelevant, manages to generate an electromagnetic pulse, disabling all this technology we're completely dependent on. Now, the fact that the books all fit on HDDs...does that matter if those disks are inoperable? What if every digital copy is destroyed? It's not unlikely a situation as one would think.
    Ryker Tong likes this.
  6. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,991

    The same predictions came about the printed word on Vellum, calligraphy, tin types & glass colloid plates, horse & buggies, and so many more and while those things exist in much more limited versions, they still exist and are in fact a favorite among hobbyists the world over. Time has a way of weeding out the unimportant and preserving that which is the most important. Manual & electric typewriters still thrive, hand made beer is more popular than ever and crooked politicians? Well, there will never be too few of those! It is an interesting prediction but the fact remains that those things that mankind hold more dear will be preserved, regardless of time.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  7. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,665   +1,950

    We are dependent primarily on information/knowledge. Any technology can be restored quickly, given that all pertinent knowledge still exists. And most digital backups today are on optical disks that are not susceptible to AMP-s. So, not really a scare :)

    By whom? Jesus? :) Only a global cataclysm is capable of this, one where no humans are likely to survive either :)
  8. NeurotechHD

    NeurotechHD TS Rookie Posts: 61   +19

    Accessing old information is becoming a matter of copyrights and patents. Emulators are easy for modern computers to handle - there's nothing fundamentally different about how computers work now and how they worked 60 years ago - it's simply a matter of scale.

    We don't have access to old games because we're not allowed access by the copyright holders. Even though we 'owned' the game in the past, we still don't have a right to the code. How much of the information on our computers is only actually 'borrowed' from some corporation? I bought Windows 7, but I can't just put it on any computer I own, so did I actually buy it or am I just renting it?

    Incompatibility is not the problem - OWNERSHIP is the problem. Technology is not the problem - the LAW is the problem.

    We don't have a fundamental human right to our personal information. The government can seize websites and databases and keep the information and you'll never see it again. It happened with MegaUpload.
  9. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    Name something that doesn't rely on electricity.
    I love the scene in the new Apes movie when they finally restore power from this old waterplant; for a moment the guys tablet has charge, and its the first time he's seen pictures of his family in years then he bursts in to tears.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
    Ryker Tong likes this.
  10. FF222

    FF222 TS Booster Posts: 93   +33

    Bulls. Important and extraordinary information, art, documents, etc. will be transcribed and transferred regularly on new media formats. Why? Because of the simple fact they will be in demand to have access to.

    Think of - in digital terms - really (>30 year) old games or programs, which we have converted to new formats and have emulators to run on. We also have very (multiple hundreds or thousands years) old books, writing, documents, paintings, etc - all available in a myriad of formats for all possible platforms.

    On the other side, unimportant or twelve a dozen information will get lost in a high rate. Just like what happened to our family photographs, our workbooks, our birth certificates etc, even back then, when they were stored on paper. Who can show family photographs, family documents, etc. (and how many of them) that are more than two generations old?

    If anything more information will be preserved, just because it will be cheaper to store them and have them ready to be retrieved if necessary.
  11. Adam1

    Adam1 TS Rookie Posts: 28

    How exactly would everything disappear?
  12. ikesmasher

    ikesmasher TS Evangelist Posts: 3,000   +1,319

    Id usually agree with people saying alot of this is nonsense. but now as everyone starts moving to the cloud for some reason, cutting one person off the internet loses their access to their digital past and a huge part of their communication. a bomb smacking one server farm somewhere could destroy god knows how many people's photos. what if something happens to comcast and verizon? how many people lose immediate internet access?

    Im just saying just because its not easy to physically throw away in someones hands doesnt make it impossible to destroy. Its all jumped up so quickly that the infrastructure isnt incredibly strong yet.
    Ryker Tong likes this.
  13. Nilbud

    Nilbud TS Enthusiast Posts: 35   +10

    Gradually, like the pictures on your old nokia 3200.
    Ryker Tong likes this.
  14. Ryker Tong

    Ryker Tong TS Rookie

    Or, you could not be an ignoramus, and instead listen to the words of a guy who simply understands the dangers and pitfalls of the world we've created. No one here is against digitization, but like anything in the world, it's our responsibility to recognize the flaws in the systems and to provide fixes for them.

    The title is misleading in my opinion, this article is simply bringing to light the fact that it is and is getting harder and harder to access any data stored on old technology. The article wants us to try and save as much as we can physically in the event that our important data becomes irretrievable through technology. Frankly, if you don't think this is, not only a good idea, but a necessary step to take, then you shouldn't e trusted with technology.
  15. Ryker Tong

    Ryker Tong TS Rookie

    So do you not realize that you're answering your own question? First of all, who can show photos from more than two generations ago? I can. Everyone I know can. Besides, not everyone CHOSE to keep photos. Those that did still have them today, because they're printed. It wouldn't be hard for things to get lost if people decide they don't need them, only to want them much later but have the unavailable because the technology they're stored on is obsolete.

    Paintings, scrolls, books? Yeah, duh, of course they'll be updated. This article isn't about any of that. It's about personal data, and that stuff is very easy to lose if you don't constantly keep it updated. Having emulators is great, because most technology is only in the area of 40 years old. So what in 200 years time we're gonna have emulators for everything ever? Also, no matter where you store stuff, it's on a hard drive. What happens when that hard drive craps out, or when it's technology becomes obsolete. There goes your data.

    The article is telling us (through Vint Cerf's words) to keep what we want safe in our own, physical hands. Technology has only proven time and again not to be trusted. Use it as a backup, trust yourself to keep what you want safe.
  16. Adam1

    Adam1 TS Rookie Posts: 28

    Well he says it as it just happens over night EVERYWHERE which is impossible. His internet dark age crap is bologna
  17. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,991

    Oh, my old Rollie 1.5 sq. had no battery and still works like a charm. My wind up alarm clock, and of course .... my bicycle!
  18. MikeAcker

    MikeAcker TS Enthusiast Posts: 33

    Secure Computing in a Compromised World

    It's not a State Secret: much of our Personally Identifiable Information ("PII") has been leaked, hacked, sold, or otherwise distributed to most anyone interested, including disreputable re-sellers.

    See Krebs on Security: How much is your identity worth?

    If we accept that as an existing condition ,-- what sort of response might we make now?

    The answer lies in the proper authentication of transactions.

    Any miscreant may have my PII -- or yours -- or -- untold thousands of files. This is the reality we must all live with today. “That Said”,-- it becomes apparent that we need an identification mechanism such that an individual can provide his or her identification credentials in a public venue and at the same time retain control of the use of said credentials.

    A nasty task it would seem.

    Fortunately some very splendid gentlemen, highly talented in mathematics have already done this work for us.

    The solution is known as Public Key Encryption. Martin Hellman together with Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle are credited with the development of the mathematics required for Public Key Encryption.

    I refer you now to a key sentence in the testimony of Whitfield Diffie in behalf of the NewEgg Supply Co v TQP Holdings: *reference(1)

    In Part:

    “There was one other big need: proving authenticity.
    "The receiver of the document can come into court with the signed document and prove to a judge that the document is legitimate," he said. "That person can recognize the signature but could not have created the signature."

    The CRITICAL POINT is well stated by Mr. Diffie here: a signature must be such that it can be authenticated -- but not forged. The signature must be valid on the original document only – not transferable to another or altered document.

    PGP signatures -- are one answer. A miscreant might have your Social Security number, your date of birth and your dog's name -- but he would not be able to file a 1040 with the IRS or make charges to your credit card or log into your Credit Union -- if proper use of PGP -- including trust models -- were common practice. *note(2)

    Proper use of PGP should be taught in school. and especially the procedures for establishing trust models for keys -- and protecting public keys from tampering. all of which is covered beautifully in Phil Zimmerman's original essay. *reference(3)

    all of us should have PGP installed, and have our own public/private key pair, and maintain a Trust Model in our keyring.

    this represents a significant change in computing practices. Many of us see the need for change while many are unfortunately resigned to thinking hacking is inevitable.

    Change is in the wind though,-- *reference(4)
    *reference(1): Whitfield Diffie
    *note(2): secure operating software required. like PGP this is available but not commonly used.
    *reference(3): Phil Zimmerman
    *reference(4) power of FTC to sue companies for poor security practice:

  19. adamrussell

    adamrussell TS Rookie

    Can anyone tell me how to get my dvd player to read all my old cds?
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    If your DVD player can't read your old CD's, they are probably damaged. Damaged goods are slightly off-topic from this conversation.
  21. I wouldn't say damaged goods are off topic at all. It's much easier to physically destroy a file into just 0s and 1s (such as accidentally leaving a scratch on a CD) than it is to destroy a physical picture into just pieces of paper. In fact, unless I decide to burn my physical photo albums I won't be losing a significant chunk of those physical photos very easily at all. You could say I would almost have to go out of my way to do something like that... which is NOT at ALL the case for digital copies/files.
  22. I have pictures of my great grand mother, from the beginning of the last century, several pictures from 1910s, 1920s, before that, access to camera equipment was not for the average family. That's why most of us can't go back very far in family photos, because there weren't many. the period where I have the most are from 1950s to 1990s before digital photography became inexpensive. some people I know have had all of their family photos wiped out.
  23. You know I made the same similar protection about chariot wheels.The chariot wheels won't be compatible with later technologies. And here we going to 20th-century you cannot put a chariot will onto a Mercedes. Man my real business is in trouble.
  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,728   +3,701

    Fixed most of that for you. I'm not perfect, so I may have missed/made a few errors myself.
  25. Thank you so much spelling bee champion. Congratulations you're a winner for spam. By the way you didn't fix my typing your fixed Apple device typing since I'm dictating to this phone because let's face it I don't have time to finger type for you. So whatever it was screwed up in that passage sorry to burst your Apple bubble but it was mistaken by the Apple device this is how good Apple device is the thing that you love so much.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...