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other: NGI0: Come work for the internet

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The Next Generation Internet initiative is the first real opportunity to put significant public funding to work to really fix the post-Snowden internet. NGI was bootstrapped in 2016 at the initiative of the European Commission. The ambition of NGI is "to re-imagine and re-engineer the internet for the third millennium and beyond" - and that is actually not exaggerating the importance of the effort. The internet impacts and shapes all of our modern society, and so it needs to be trustworthy and sustainable, both societally, economically and environmentally. And it needs to be robust and resilient, so our society can responsibly rely on it. As a technical community we need to think and invent ahead to actually deliver security, fairness and privacy by design.

During this talk, Michiel Leenaars will present NGI Zero - a unique collaborative grantmaking effort built on decades of not-for profit expertise, with its pedigree tracing back to the introduction of internet in Europe in the eighties of the previous century.

NGI Zero is focused on projects between 5k euro and 50k euro - with the potential to scale up to 200k if successful. What is unique to NGI is that the program not just makes money available, but also delivers deep support to independent innovators and the community. Even the best researchers and developers are after all mere humans. The demands on technology that should actually run at scale on the modern internet today are huge, and continuously changing. Having a brilliant idea that might just work, does not automatically mean that you know how to make your solution accessible to blind people, how to set up continuous integration and reproducible builds, how to orchestrate a responsible disclosure procedure, how to make sure that your application can be used with different languages and be properly localised to be compatible with different cultures, how to engineer secure software and what state of the art attack vectors you would better deal with, how to engage with standards setting organisations, how to nurture and grow a developer community, how to write end user documentation, which software license best fits the goals of the project, how to deal with software patent trolling, how to support diversity with regards to gender and social identity, what considerations to take into account for software to be packaged by distributions, etcetera. NGI Zero involves not-for-profit specialists from each of these domains to help out.

What is also unique is that NGI0 was designed to engage with grassroots expertise and wants to bring together the strengths of the technical and operational community of the internet, the free and open source community, the accessibility community, the FOSS legal community, and the diverse and rich ecosystem of people that actually care about making suitable building blocks for the future internet. NGI Zero is about real solutions. To prove that point, the outcomes of each of the projects are independently verified by a third party security company and each of the projects is officially certified with regards to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This means that the outcomes are also accessible to people that are for instance blind. The goal of the NGI Zero community is to serve the real innovators that built the internet, and actively engage those that keep it running and push it forward independent of corporate agendas. This will help to make every cent count to get us towards a Next Generation Internet that lives up to our expectations and needs.

Currently, NGI Zero consists of two connected trailblazer programmes to the NGI initiative: NGI0 PET and NGI0 Discovery. NGI0 PET revolves around "privacy and trust enhancing techologies". That may sound abstract, but it really means fixing weak parts and technical debt all over todays technology stack. NGI0 Discovery revolves around search, discovery and discoverability. As soon as you open up your phone or computer, chances are you will search for something: a person, an online service or some internal notes. Search is what propels us across in the ocean of information. How do we make sure that the core human values we hold high as society are strengthened rather than anything else?

In just a few months, already over 100 very interesting projects have been bootstrapped through an open grantmaking process led by NLnet Foundation. Independent researchers and developers funded by NGI0 are already making interesting and even fundamental contributions to the technology commons: they are designing the first open hardware RISC-V SoC. They are replacing the socket mechanism in UNIX with a safer and more mondern alternative. They are creating free software meta search engines and search proxies that get you out of the search bubble of personalisation. They are devising new ways to finally get rid of the hassle of passwords; to make email encryption happen automatically; to boot operating systems without binary blobs; to make software distribution transparent and reproducible. They are making computers test the human-designed core protocols we use to protect all our traffic on the internet, in order to automatically output mathematically proven software components without flaws. They are creating safe and user-friendly ways for people to collaborate and communicate across the internet, with modern end-to-end encryption. Private search engines that allow you to integrate your own data into your main search flow, without having to share it with untrusted third parties - so you can search in your own mail and the web with a single query. Software bots to automatically discover software vulnerabilities, and fix these in the software distribution chain so that end users can have access to the latest available security updates without lifting a finger. Developers are building search technologies for new realms of the internet, like the Inter Planetary File System (IPFS) and the Fediverse. The list goes on ...

But of course more work is needed. Fixing the internet is a 'moonshot plus' effort: the internet is the largest technical structure man has ever made, and the task at hand is to vastly improve its very operating fabric with 3 billion + people using it on a daily basis. This may essential to our daily operations, but it is equally or even more important for upholding our human values and basic human rights in Europe. This is why NGI Zero invites you to consider to come 'work for the internet' ...


Day: 2019-09-08
Start time: 10:05
Duration: 00:30
Room: U4-08


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