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Internet pioneer Dr. Leonard Kleinrock still pushing emerging technologies

Jim Duffy | Oct. 2, 2012
It's not hard to find Internet pioneer Dr. Leonard Kleinrock -- he's been at UCLA for 50 years, since 1963.

Getting that rebellious teenager to behave and cooperate is a slow and difficult process, Kleinrock says. There will always be the outliers that exploit it, and the effects of their disruption are exaggerated and magnified compared to the multitude that want the Internet to behave properly. And in many cases, governments are leading the direction that organizes the Internet, isolates it and controls it.

"It's the Big Brother effect," Kleinrock says.

And what to do to correct it?

"So much depends on the Internet that those who disrupt it or exploit it or abuse it there'll be an awful lot of social pressure brought to bear, and sentimental pressure that would hopefully modulate and moderate the extent of the abuse," he says. "It's much easier to destroy than to create. So the maturity of the Internet will in some ways depend upon the maturity of some of these governments, which is far more difficult to influence. So we're not going to see a rapid resolution. But I believe the kind of thing we're seeing from peer pressure, social networks, will have an influence on individual and government in positive ways across the world. But it's unpredictable and a constant source of concern."

That's because the Internet is becoming a much broader, and more comprehensive and all-encompassing medium for general purpose communication, a utility much like the telephone network or the TV network. Every communication-related innovation that's developed separately from the Internet ultimately winds up on the Internet.

"There's a convergence of capability on the Internet, and yet a divergence as well, that not too many people are aware of," Kleinrock says. "So this notion of a Balkanization and divergence is not necessarily foreign or a bad thing. Along with that comes a certain level of specialization which we may see emerge. And at some point as these new capabilities emerge independently, they tend to then converge onto the Internet in the sense of an enormous device that scoops up everything around. When a new capability arises it suddenly gets integrated with the Internet, suddenly it's part of this thing called 'the Internet.' The paging network is an example."


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