The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy (APIDE) hosted a unique seminar November 8, 2015 at the downtown Mita Campus of Keio University in Tokyo, featuring an interactive discussion on how the Internet came to Asia with some of the key individuals responsible for its development in the United States and later its establishment in the Asia-Pacific.

The event showcased the lives and experiences of a small group of academics from Japan, China, Korea, and the US, who understood the transformative power of this demonstrative technology. The discussion was wide-ranging touching on the legal, administrative, and complex engineering challenges that led the societies and economies of Asia into the age of the Internet.

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PIONEERS OF THE INTERNET

APIDE was pleased to bring to this discussion seven leaders of the Internet in Asia. Three of them are already members of the Internet Hall of Fame and their stories highlight the key role of the academic and engineering communities in laying the foundations for the remarkable growth of the Internet over the past decade in the region. The “pioneers” all share a common commitment to the continued growth of the Internet in Asia and a belief that the kind of transnational cooperation which made the early success of the Internet possible is also vital to its future.

At a time when the Internet is fast becoming ubiquitous in Asian societies – yet vulnerable to increasing pressures that threaten its future innovation and growth, it is vital that we both recall and celebrate the goals and objectives of the Internet’s founders and to listen and reflect on their assessment as to its future direction. APIDE was proud to welcome the following “Pioneers” to the program:

 

farberDavid J. Farber
Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Farber created the world’s first operational distributed computer system and helped train the first generation of academics and engineers that built the global Internet. He has been called the “grandfather” of Japan’s Internet because of his key role in sharing Internet technologies with Japanese researchers in the early days of the Internet.

Jun Muraijun-murai-profile
Dean of the School of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University
Dr. Murai is widely known as the “father” of the Internet in Japan for his role in developing the Japan University UNIX Network (JUNET) and his founding of the Widely Integrated Distributed Environment (WIDE) project, which operates the only root DNS server in Asia.

He won the 2005 Internet Society’s Jonathan B. Postel Service Award in recognition of his vision and pioneering work that helped spread the Internet across the Asia Pacific region.

Jiro Kokuryojiro-kokuryo-profile
Vice President for International Collaboration, Keio University
Dr. Kokuryo holds an MBA and Ph.D. from Harvard University. As a member of Japan’s IT Strategy Headquarters, Dr. Kokuryo played a key role in Japan’s rapid and highly successful deployment of Internet infrastructure and has been a strong advocate of greater utilization of Internet technologies in areas such as healthcare and disaster preparedness. He heads the Design Platform Laboratory within the Keio Research Institute.

Xing Lixing-li-profile
Professor of Electronics Engineering, Tsinghua University
Xing Li is the deputy director of the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) Center, working on the design and operation of the CERNET and China Next Generation Internet (CNGI-CERNET2) projects. He is currently a Professor in the Electronic Engineering Department at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

His research activities and interests include statistical signal processing, multimedia communication and compute networks. He has published more than 200 papers in his research areas.

hideyuki-tokuda-profileHideyuki Tokuda
Dean of the Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University
Dr. Tokuda is widely known for his leading work on technologies that will be at the core of the Internet’s future, including ubiquitous computer systems, smart space, sensor networks and embedded systems. His current research field is Information Appliance and Smart Space for the Ubiquitous Computing Environment. His research lab is working on application, middleware, network, and hardware to realize “Smart Space”.

He is also chairman of the Graduate School of Media and Governance at Keio University and a member of IEEE, ACM, IPSJ, and JSSST.

kilnam-chon-profileKilnam Chon*
Professor of Computer Science, Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST)
Dr. Chon contributed to the Internet’s growth in Asia through his extensive work in advancing Internet initiatives, research, and development. He developed the first Internet in Asia, called SDN in 1982, and his pioneering work inspired many others to promote the Internet’s further growth in the region. Chon has worked on networking systems, including the Internet, since the early 1980s.

(*Unfortunately, while Dr. Chon had agreed to join the program he had to withdraw at last minute for personal reasons.)

Adam Peakeadam-peake-profile
Director, Global Civil Society Engagement, ICANN
Before joining ICANN in 2014, Mr. Peake spent more than two decades as a senior researcher at the Center for Global Communications (GLOCOM), International University of Japan and was a vocal and influential leader for civil society during in the WSIS, IGF and NETmundial processes.

He was an early member of the non-commercial users constituency, a founding member of the .ORG Advisory Council (to May 2006), and a member of the NAIS Project that in 2000-2001 contributed to the review of the At-Large elections and public representation and participation in ICANN.

Fred Bakerfred-baker-profile
Chair, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Mr. Baker is an engineer specializing in developing computer network protocols for the Internet. He joined Cisco systems in 1994 and has worked since that time as the company’s point of contact with the university and engineering communities.

His research work and leadership skills (he has also chaired the Internet Society) made a key contribution to the expansion of the Internet in Asia.

 

It is vital that we recall and celebrate the goals of the Internet’s founders

A key theme that consistently arose in the exchanges amongst the “Pioneers” was that reason this new technology was taken up successfully and diffused quickly throughout the region was due to the trust and community that scholars and engineers shared as they worked together to scale its implementation. The Internet in Asia was a triumph of “collaboration”, not “competition” – and it is important to continue to sustain that spirit and vision in the region today.

This history is all the more important because of increasing threats to the integrity of the Internet from cyber attacks and growing unease about the volume of personal information that is currently collected for varying purposes by governments and corporations. An important takeaway from the group discussion, perhaps articulated best by Professor Farber, is that the time may have come for a “reset” of the Internet – a redesign and rebuild of its basic architecture. While a contentious topic within the group itself and the community at large – moving forward to undertake future development must be based on a clear understanding of how we got to where we are. That is why the wisdom and example of these “Pioneers” remains particularly relevant for us as we now turn the page to start the next 25 years of Internet history.

Introducing The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy

The “Pioneers of the Internet in Asia” was the first event to be organized by The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy, a new think tank located in Tokyo but with a regional mission. At the conclusion of the program, the Board of Directors, chaired by Intellectual Ventures Japan CEO Masanobu Katoh introduced the scope and mission of an independent platform for the Asia-Pacific to coordinate and facilitate the burgeoning voices on technology policy which is rapidly evolving in the region.

A new, independent think tank for the Asia-Pacific on the future of the Digital Economy

Professor Jun Murai, Chair of APIDE’s Academic Advisory Council added that APIDE represented the next step in Asia for advancing progressive advocacy and thought leadership on the burgeoning digital economy through close work with government, business, civil society, and academia.

We believe that the next 25 years of the Internet’s growth and development will largely be centered in the Asia-Pacific region. APIDE is committed to ensuring that the values and spirit of collaboration that infused the work of the “pioneers” of the Internet are not lost but instead deepened and expanded as we work together with our colleagues in Asia to further realize the potential of the Internet to transform our economies and societies and ultimately to enrich our individual lives.

 

group-photo-apide