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Vinton Cerf’s Full Text: Gallaudet Graduation 2015

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Vinton Cerf’s full transcript from captions. The time mark begins at 1:59:38. GO!

Members of the board, members of the faculty family and friends and class of 2015, congratulations!

I am sure many of you are feeling a sense of accomplishment and relief. I can assure your parents are probably thinking the same thing.

Many of who live to be 100 years old. You have about 80 years to look forward to. Let’s try to figure out what that might mean.

My mother, Muriel Cerf, was born in 1916 and passed away last year at the age of 98. For her, the telegraph, the telephone, talking movies, mass produced automobiles, radio, the airplane and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanices, the Panama Canal, World War I, and the Great Depression were already in her past. What would she see over the next 80 years? She would experience World War 2, the invention of the computer, radar, rockets, television….well, okay. It was not invented in 1928 but was not widely in use until the 1950s. And microwave ovens.

In her lifetime she would see the synthesis of insulin and the birth control pill, magnetic resonance imaging, the invention of the atomic and hydrogen bombs, she would see the invention of and ride in jet airplanes and watch men landing on the moon and space craft on mars, and other bodies in our solar system. She would see the invention of the internet and the world wide web, she would experience the invention and use of the transistor, mainframe computers, personal computers, laptops, tablets, hand held mobiles and the smart phone.

She would experience the assassination of JFK, MLK, and Robert Kennedy, and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. She would experience the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would lie ahead of the 20 year old Muriel. Interestingly, the first wearable hearing aid was invented in 1938, when Muriel was 22.

By 1953, the transistor made behind the ear hearing aids possible. I started wearing them in 1956 when I was 13 years old. The 80 year old Muriel would see her daughter-in-law and my wife, Sigrid Cerf, receive her first cochlear implant in 1996 and a second one 10 years later.

It is 2015, you are about to graduate into a world that we can only begin to imagine. What might you experience over the next 80 years? In my own field, it is reasonable to expect that quantum computers will become real, if not necessarily wide-spread use. Minimally-invasive surgery will be the norm for many conditions and nano-scale devices will be reduced to practice. Some may be autonomous and others guided by skillful hands or even robots. Some may even work inside our bodies. Self-driving cars will become commonplace and it might even be illegal for inept humans to drive cars except on specially-designed off road or race tracks! And finally humans will land on Mars and a spacecraft will be on its way to the nearest star system Alpha Beta and Proxima Centauri.

The internet of things is becoming a reality and it will be the norm for you in your lifetime. Wearable computes and sensing devices on or embedded in our bodies will be standard practice. some already are such as the insulin pump, cochlear implant, and video cameras you can swallow. Electronic alternatives to pharmaceutical medicines will be standard options for you during your lifetime. While there won’t quite be Star Trek replicators, 3D printers will be commonplace and spare parts and whole cars will be manufactured on the spot. Stem cell and genetic therapies will almost certainly become commonplace in your lifetimes.

And it is not inconceivable that we will be able to re-grow damaged parts of our bodies and that may include the reconstruction of organs that help us see, feel, or hear. Some of you may well find, yourselves in Earth orbit for a stay in a Virgin Galactic or Bigelow Hotel and you will get there on a commercial space flight offered by Space-X or Virgin Galactic.

I have had the good fortune to experience a career filled with interesting challenges and fascinating ideas. While I was trained as a Mathematician, I soon discovered computers and that led to networking and that led to the internet. I had the benefit of many, many colleagues who felt the same urge I did to connect things that had not been connected before. To erase distance and fashion an ever more interconnected world. I am an engineer by trade. A computer scientist by my degrees. And a Chief Internet evangelist by title. Of course, there are only an estimated 3 billion people on the net today so there are about 4 billion people more to connect. I could use some help.

For the past 40 years it has been my task to convince others that they, too, want everyone on the planet to be part of the internet and the World Wide Web that it supports. Smart mobiles have helped realize that goal with several billion in use today. I see the internet’s success as a lucky confluence of technology. Us and other government leadership and support. Dramatic reduction in the cost of computing and communications. Massive commitment by individuals, research institutions and private sector companies and business models that have attracted persistent investment and the creation of new enterprises. The world of the future is not predictable. Some of you will discover new physical principles. New business opportunities, new ways of living in a world challenged by climate change, persistent, regional conflicts, growing population and demands for natural resources.

It will be a world posing hard problems and dramatic and opportunities for their solution. You will be a part of that world and you will shape it. Your interests, aspirations, creative talents and your desires will influence the markets and products of the future.

By this time, you will have learned that hard work, patience, and persistence really count in the real world. I hope you have also discovered that doing things that you like and are good at makes work seem more like fun and adventure. You hear often that you should discover what trigger your own passion and pursue that in your career. Do not allow others to define who you are or what your limits might be. These are yours and yours alone to discover and to extend.

I wish each and every one of you all possible success. I have good reason for that – I will be living in the world you create. And so will you! Congratulations!

And it concludes at 2:08:43. FINISH!

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2 responses

  1. I will copy several portions of captions of his presentation that I think where people did not see between the lines. Again, English language can be very tricky. My findings below:

    “My wife, Sigrid Cerf received her first cochlear implant in 1996 and a second one ten years later. Now in 2015 you are about to graduate into a world that we can only begin to imagine. Notice the word right before this? ‘First cochlear implant…and second one ten years later….into a world that we can only begin to imagine. It means use your best imagination what to hear out there. ONLY WE CAN ONLY BEGIN….

    “In my own field, it is reasonable to expect that quantum computers will become real. If not, necessarily in wide spread use. Minimally invasive surgery will be the norm for many conditions and nano-scale devices will be reduced to practice. Some may be autonomous and others guided by skillful hands or even by robots. Some will work inside our bodies. The key is “minimally invasive surgery will be the norm for many conditions.”—Many conditions means to wipe the condition of Deaf world. The second key is that “some will work inside our bodies” suggesting cochlear implant will work inside our ears. Is the ears part of the bodies? You decide.

    “The Internet is becoming a reality and it will be the norm for you in your life time. Wearable computers and sensing devices will be standard practice some already are. Such as the insulin pump, cochlear implant, and video cameras you can shallow.” Cochlear implants are the reality that people need to shallow. Sensing devices are the part of encouraging getting cochlear implants.

    “It is not inconceivable that we will able to re-grow damaged parts of our bodies and that may include the reconstruction of organs that help us see feel or hear.” It is easy to know what it means when someone says “re-grow damaged parts of our bodies”—re-grow ears are part of the bodies!

    “Some of you will discover new physical principles….” Hmmm. That is very tricky. Isn’t physical principle part of eradicating Deaf and learn to be hearing again? Deaf people have principles to protect their constitution rights.

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