Author:
Maarja Roosi

Computer scientist François Flückiger gives an evening talk linking the internet’s fascinating history and philosophy

François Flückiger, member of the Internet Hall of Fame and computer scientist at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), delivers a popular-science evening talk, “When Internet history meets philosophy”, in lecture hall 1037 of the University of Tartu’s Delta study building on Monday, 28 August at 20:30. In the lecture, which is part of the programme of the CERN School of Computing, Flückiger reveals exciting and humorous facts about the history of the internet and links them to philosophy. The lecture is in English.

Modern information-centric society relies on two technological pillars – the internet infrastructure and its main application, the World Wide Web – which have revolutionised society. However, the internet has also brought about a rise in individualism, narcissism, deliberate dissemination of misinformation and anti-science movements. The prevalence of such beliefs over knowledge is alarming. The emergence of new media has always inspired philosophers, which is why Flückiger places the history of the internet in the context of philosophy.

Tauno Tiirats, Research Fellow in Multiscale Simulations at the University of Tartu, listened to Flückiger’s lecture at the CERN School of Computing in Krakow last year and considered him a very engaging speaker. “Flückiger talks about details that are not publicly known: for example, the cases in which commercial companies could have taken over the internet, how major IT companies tried to block the spread of the internet, as well as the so-called internet clashes between Europe and the US,” Tiirats said.

François Flückiger worked as the Director of the CERN School of Computing from 2003 to 2013 and was in charge of CERN’s internet infrastructure for two decades. His work culminated in the early 1990s when CERN became Europe’s largest internet centre. Flückiger was involved in international internet projects from the beginning, including the non-profit organisation Internet Society and the RIPE Network Coordination Centre. After Tim Berners-Lee left CERN, Flückiger took over the management of the web development technical team and led the release of CERN’s first open-source web software in 1994. In his book “Understanding Networked Multimedia”, published in 1994, Flückiger predicted the future development of an information-centric society. In 2013, François Flückiger became a member of the Internet Hall of Fame.

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