The human body could soon be connected to the web, says 'father of the internet' Vint Cerf


The human body itself could soon be connected to the web, “father of the internet” Vint Cerf has predicted.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent in a live, online Q&A yesterday, Cerf said that work was already underway to make the plan a reality after he was inspired to come up with a way of hooking medical implants up to the internet by his wife, who has cochlear implants to help her hearing.

The implants work by deciphering sounds and identifying them to the brain. Cerf said: “I’ve been thinking: ‘well why don’t I just programme TCP/IP into the speech processor so she can interact directly with the internet and get the answers back in her head’?”

Talking about the future of the internet, he said: “[It] is beginning to adopt other media and other forms of interaction than just keyboards and mice, so voice is becoming an important input and output medium, we’re beginning to see gestural kinds of interfaces happening.

“We’re starting to see this augmented reality notion, if you see in the Google Glasses: the idea is that the computer shares with you a view of the world, not only what it can see but also what it can hear and becomes a participant in your interactions with the real world.

During the half-hour interview, in which readers of the Independent also participated, Cerf also talked about Alan Turing, for whom the award he won in 2005 – often referred to as the Nobel Prize in Computing – was named. He said: “Those of us who have degrees in computer science learn very, very early on that Alan Turing was one of the eminences grises in the whole story of computing. He had very fundamental propositions for how computing works.

“The most important one, of course, is the universal Turing machine, which laid out a framework for assessing, for example, the computational cost of doing any particular calculation.” He added that, besides sharing a birthday with Turing, he felt a connection to him because the first computer he ever programmed was derived from one of the former Bletchley Park codebreaker’s designs.

Cerf predicted that Turing would be “impressed, pleased and maybe not even too surprised given the depth of his appreciation of what this kind of engine could do. His understanding of what computing actually means would give him almost instant with the cloud computing environment we see today.”

Asked about how difficult it was to defend a company like Google, which has recently been mired in controversies around users’ privacy online, he said: “We have established a pretty solid track record of offering a substantial array of things that are open and free: the software of Chrome; the software of Android; the software of the Chrome operating system, all of the products and services that are available to users are essentially free of charge to them and it’s a consequence of our very good business model related to advertising.

“I don’t think anyone is forced to use the Google products and we’ve gone out of our way to do what we can to allow people to take anything that they put into the Google system and get it back out again; the freedom and the ability to move information around.

“So, I would challenge anyone who argues that Google has abused its rapid growth. And, of course, there have been some reactions, and you know in Europe the EU has asked questions about our position in the marketplace and that negotiation and discussion continues.”


Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
The spider makes its break for freedom
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

    £27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

    £15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

    Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Executive - OTE £30,000

    £16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Salary: £16k - £20k Dependant o...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot