Philosophical Society of Washington

Managing Digital Objects on the Internet

Robert E. Kahn
Corporation for National Research Initiatives

2227th Meeting Abstract
Friday, October 26, 2007 at 8:15 PM

Robert E. Kahn


All types of information may be structured as digital objects. These may be subject to rights, require privacy, or demand security. Some may be inaccessible without permission (e.g. behind firewalls), may move from place to place, or exist at multiple locations. Some may need to be accessible for very long periods of time. An overall framework in which to address these issues will be presented and its relevance to archiving, networking, and information management will be discussed.

About the Author:

Robert E. Kahn is Chairman, CEO and President of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), which he founded in 1986 after a thirteen-year term at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). CNRI was created as a not-for-profit organization to provide leadership and funding for research and development of the National Information Infrastructure.

Early in his career, he worked on the Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories and then became an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT.

He took a leave of absence from MIT to join Bolt Beranek and Newman, where he was responsible for the system design of the Arpanet, the first packet-switched network. In 1972 he moved to DARPA and subsequently became Director of DARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO). While Director of IPTO he initiated the United States government's billion dollar Strategic Computing Program, the largest computer research and development program ever undertaken by the federal government. He conceived the idea of open-architecture networking. He is a co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols and was responsible for originating DARPA's Internet Program. Until recently, CNRI provided the Secretariat for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). He also coined the term National Information Infrastructure (NII) in the mid 1980s, which later became more widely known as the Information Super Highway.

In his recent work, he has been developing the concept of a digital object architecture as a key middleware component of the NII. This notion is providing a framework for interoperability of heterogeneous information systems and is being used in many applications such as the Digital Object Identifier (DOI). He is a co-inventor of Knowbot programs, mobile software agents in the network environment.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a former member of its Computer Science and Technology Board, a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of AAAI, a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and a Fellow of the Computer History Museum. He is a former member of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee, a former member of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine and the President's Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure.

He is a recipient of the 1997 National Medal of Technology, the 2001 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, and the 2004 A. M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery.

Dr. Kahn received the 2003 Digital ID World award for the Digital Object Architecture as a significant contribution (technology, policy or social) to the digital identity industry. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2006.

He received his B.E.E. from the City College of New York in 1960. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University in 1962 and

1964 respectively. He has received honorary degrees from Princeton University, University of Pavia, ETH Zurich, University of Maryland, George Mason University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Pisa, and an honorary fellowship from University College, London.

←Previous Abstract - Directory of Archived Meetings - Next Abstract→