Digital pioneer Geoff Huston apologises for bringing the internet to Australia

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Geoff Huston is an Internet Hall of Fame global connector, an honour which acknowledges his “critical role” in bringing the internet to Australia in the 1990s.

“While the Internet was still in its infancy in the US, he was able to complete the construction of a new and rapidly growing network within a few months,” the organisation wrote.

On Thursday, Huston apologised for that.

“The internet is now busted, and to be perfectly frank, it’s totally unclear how we can fix it. We can’t make it better,” said Huston, now chief scientist with the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).

“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry,” he said.

“I actually want to apologise for my small part in this mess we find ourselves in, because it all turned out so horrendously badly.”

Huston is well-known in Australian internet technical circles for his cheerfully pessimistic presentations.

He has, for example, called the internet’s traffic routing system, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), a screaming car wreck. Failing to secure the domain name system is savage ignorance.

But during his opening presentation to the NetThing internet governance conference, he cast his net of doom far wider.

In Huston’s eyes, the internet’s collective failures include shoddy programming, haste, lack of regulation, and expensive cybersecurity organisations that are tackling the wrong problems.

“The world of programmers and code generators is actually a world of really, really shocking work,” Huston said, singling out the agile methodology for particular blame.

“[Agile is] the incentive to write even shittier code, even faster, and more of it, because obviously, that’s what we need,” he said with considerable sarcasm.

“With no desire to actually build truly secure systems, in the rush to digitise our world of services, we’re taking extraordinary risks … We cut corners and built fast, shitty code. Maybe