Is the honorable Vint Cerf -- father of the Internet and now Google's Chief Evangelist -- stark raving bonkers?
I've always suspected the crazy Cerf was more than a little mad. Having crossed swords with him in the past, notably at the United Nations conference about the Internet in Rio last year, he has always appeared to me to be on another planet, in another dimension, playing with a different deck of cards than everyone else in the room. To some that might signify professor Calculus style genius; to me, however, it suggests that the old geezer is really round the bend.
And now I have proof that the crazy Cerf is certifiably mad. In today's Observer, the loony has written a truly insane piece entitled: If you think the Web was cool, wait until it goes space age. No, I'm not joking. Here is what the crazy Cerf has been up to at NASA:
My colleagues at Nasa and I are even working on an interplanetary internet, which will make getting information to and from spacecraft in the far reaches of the solar system more reliable.
An interplanetary internet. That's very doable. It's going to take Verizon about twenty years to get their high-speed fiber optic network to all 50 American States. So how long will it take to wire up the "far reaches of the solar system"? Is the Crazy Cerf going to privatize space? What happens if he bumps into extra terrestrial versions of Nick Carr or Doris Lessing out in the far reaches of the solar system who would rather be reading books than surfing the Internet?
Oh crazy Cerf, what planet are you on? Closer to planet earth, here's his vision for useful applications of the Internet in the future:
After working on the internet for more than three decades, I'm more optimistic about its promise than ever. It has the potential to change unexpected parts of our lives: from surfboards that let you surf the web while you wait for the next wave to refrigerators that can email you suggested recipes based on the food you already have.
Brilliant -- a totally brilliant analysis of how we want "unexpected parts of our lives" to be changed. All my surfer friends tell me that they are so bored sitting on their boards waiting for the next wave that they'd love to check their email in between the action. While all the cooks I know have been fantasizing about adding an intelligent refrigerator to their kitchen -- pity the Crazy Cerf didn't add that the fridge could then go on and automatically make the food and then distribute it those surfboarders checking their emails in between waves. Now, that would solve a really major social problem.
Speaking of solving major social problems, the crazy Cerf thinks that the Internet is about to create global democracy AND freedom:
Closer to home, we're at the cusp of a truly global internet that will bring people closer together and democratise access to information. We are all free to innovate on the net every day and we should look forward to more people around the world enjoying that freedom.
Huh? Has the crazy Cerf been reading his newspaper recently? Did he hear about the ways that Russian hackers used the Internet to attack Georgia prior to the real Russian invasion? Has he heard about Internet censorship in China? Has he been checking his spam lately?
The problem, I suspect, with the crazy Cerf, is that he holds the Kafkesque title of "chief evangelist" at Google. The omnipotent search engine needs an evangelist about as badly as it needs another high-end chef at its Mountain View restaurant-office. Everyone outside a few undiscovered villages in outer Borneo has already heard of Google -- it's the best known brand in the world.
So my suggestion is that we change the crazy Cerf's title to "Mankind's Chief Evangelist". Then let's stick the old dude on a rocket and email him to the far reaches of the solar system. NASA -- can you hear me? Have you got a spare spaceship to fulfill a mission that will truly benefit all of us. Mankind's gift to the universe. Infinite Vint.