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Washington – Vint Cerf recalls the first Italian Internet connection “Happy Birthday, Italy!”

With the picture of a cake decorated with the Italian flag and birthday candles, Vinton Cerf, known as Vint, the ‘Father of the Internet’, was among the pioneers who, on April 30, 1986, connected Italy to the Internet. “The Italian exploration was taking place at the same time as the North American one,” said Cerf during an interview with ANSA, explaining an event which is evidence of the fact that “these ideas and these technologies happen when it is possible for them to happen.”This is the ‘Cerf approach’, capable of marking the trail of technology for what it really represents, i.e. an element in the evolution of Man. He did this in his brilliant and alluring style while celebrating the Italian Internet Day at the Italian Embassy in Washington, an exceptional American preview of the celebrations to take place in Italy on Friday and Saturday, as requested by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. It recalls the day on which the signal departed at the Centro Universitario per il Calolo Elettronico of Pisa’s National Research Council (CNUCE) and arrived at the Roaring Creek station in Pennsylvania.”Bob Khan and I had been working with the Italian colleagues since 1980 or 1981.The CNUCE was already working at this at the beginning of the 70s, just like we were,” said Cerf describing April 30th as the ‘day of alignment’. As to the future, Cerf is optimistic: “The next frontier is the ‘Internet of things’.” Just think of all or most of the objects we use everyday, “which are full of software and of communications options”. This is a watershed moment, according to Cerf, just like the revolution caused by the advent of smartphones in 2007. In this case, too, it was a “an encounter of technologies which strengthened one another.” But the real change is going into outer space, “and we are already there.””A Renaissance man, the exact opposite of the limited interpretation given to technology and innovation,” pointed out Ambassador Armando Varicchio, speaking about Cerf with ANSA. He also noted that 30 years after that first connection, “Italy is still loyal to its mission, that of a country capable of great things, if it is innovating and looking towards the future. This is our challenge: keeping together what makes us unique in the world, with our passion, our history, our culture, and our capability of innovating.”This challenge involves diplomacy, too. “It is a tool, an art which many would call ancient, but it has to keep up with the changing times,” said Ambassador Varicchio, who has a special observational outlook from Washington and is particularly concerned about these issues. “How does diplomacy change in the digital era? The information flow is continuous, so we must polish the information and understand its meaning. It is true, however, that the Internet, as with all other great innovations, entails opportunities and challenges alike.” The Ambassador mentioned two events related to the Internet: “Chernobyl in 1986. The children parading on May 1st in Kiev, did not know that 5 days earlier the big blast of the reactor occurred. They will bear the mark of radiation for the rest of their lives. This would not be possible today, because thanks to information, those children would not have paraded along the streets of Kiev. Yet, it is also true that the Internet is a tool used to recruit the new extremist terrorists, which is once again evidence of the fact that man is at the centre of everything. Whoever works with such issues should be able to assess its effect.”Riccardo Luna, the Italian ‘digital champion’, was also in Washington. “Italy’s Internet Day on Friday will be a great cultural event,” he told ANSA. “The country is realising that Italy was the fourth country to actually connect to the Internet, yet today we are fourth from the bottom among European countries in connecting. It is clear to us that in these 30 years we have not moved fast, but rather, we have stopped. The big challenge now consists in triggering the competition fo the ultra-broad band. It is something we have been talking about in the past 10 years. The competition begins on Friday, which means that by 2020 all Italians will have an ultrafast Internet.”

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