Elon University

An interview transcript from the first Internet Governance Forum, Athens, Greece Oct/Nov 2006: Seiiti Arata Jr.

IGF 2006 LogoThis is a transcript from a series of video interviews designed to assess major issues tied to the diffusion of the internet. It is the record of one of many interviews conducted in 2006 with international internet stakeholders from 18 different nations at the world’s first Internet Governance Forum in Athens, Greece. The Athens IGF was the first of five annual global events administrated by the UN to focus on discussion of the overarching issues tied to the future of information and communications technologies. More than 1,200 participants shared information, experiences and best practices.

Seiiti  Arata Jr. – Leader, Internet Governance Capacity Building Program, DiploFoundation; staff member of the secretariat for the Working Group on Internet Governance; lawyer specializing in information technology. Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  

The Transcript:

Q: Why did your organization send you to this conference?

A: Well the DiploFoundation has many projects. One of the projects we’re doing right now is the capacity-building program that was divided into two phases. One is the capacity-building program which is very basic material for people who don’t have much knowledge about Internet-governance issues. The second phase was consisting of some of these students and some new students as well. This was a research program. As a result of both phases, we selected some of the best students and we brought them here to Athens so they can be in the field and use the knowledge that they obtained online in the course and really meet each other. This is the first time we have had person-to-person interactions and perhaps many of them are going to continue their work with the DiploFoundation as well.

Q: Do you think the Internet can be “governed”?

A: That always depends on what you mean by governed. Yes. This basic question comes from many years ago of should we regulate the Internet? Yes or no? Now the question is how should we regulate the Internet.

Q: Who should be setting those rules?

A: In my opinion, it should be the broad community, as broad as possible because everybody has a stake. That’s the concept of multi-stakeholder: every single user. Whether they know or they don’t really know of what the real issues are, this is one special thing about the capacity-building device: enabling some of these important actors who don’t really know, don’t really understand how the Internet works or what are the policies or economic impacts what should be the consequences of different models of regulations. So this is one of the ideas that we have promoted with capacity building.

Q: How do you conciliate cultural differences when it comes to “governing” the Internet?

A: That’s a very difficult balance to be achieved because basically the Internet should be just one place that everyone is using at the same time but more and more its getting fragmented so for some users from some countries, the experience they have is a little bit different from the experience other countries have. It should be said by everyone whether it should be something good or bad and the bad thing, I think, is that just one person, one organization, one government, one person decides if its bad or not. If it’s submitted to a commonly agreed framework that can generate the good consensus so we should get these results.

What we don’t want is to have one entity make the decisions by itself.

Q: What is your greatest hope for the future of the Internet?

A: There is an interesting book; it’s “The Age of Spiritual Machines: by Ray Kurzweil, in which he’s talking about possible futures that technology is going to influence for society. And what we see is that more and more technology getting embedded into the very concept of the human being and right now we can advance these technologies in a shorter time frame than people who were doing this 100 years ago. What’s going on right now is that the computers are being used together with the human mind, so the Internet is going to be so widely accepted and computer power is going to be enhanced in such a way that for some things that we learn right now in school maybe it wouldn’t make any sense to learn them. We’re going to learn new techniques of how to use computers, of how to use this information to get something that’s really useful for mankind.

From now on, I don’t think we can separate what is the Internet and what is the computer from what should be like a human brain, human reasoning. More and more it is going to be closer.

Q: Describe the future impact of the Internet in one word.

A: Evolution.

This video transcript is offered for use under a Creative Commons Noncommercial License allowing no derivative works. Executive producers, Erin Barnett and Janna Quitney Anderson; chief engineer, Bryan Baker; videographers, Barnett and Baker; editor, Barnett.