Angelo Corsaro: Living on the edge

Interview by Claire Doble, Martel Innovate


Angelo Corsaro, PhD, chief technology officer at ADLINK and HUB4NGI expert, was recently named one of the world’s 50 top influencers in edge computing by Data Economy magazine. We caught up with Corsaro on his return from summer holidays, which he spent windsurfing in Tarifa – an activity which encapsulates his belief that we should exploit technology to steer close to the wind (or the edge, as it were) in the pursuit of a very human kind of happiness.

According to Angelo Corsaro, the place where edge computing and the next generation internet collide is in their potential to move the digital world beyond an address- and location-based system of data, and to give people more control of data.

“One problem we have is the way in which networks work with addresses, such as IP. But if you look at applications today and tomorrow – such as IoT and edge computing – they don’t care about addresses, they just care about information or data. Not the who or where, but the what.”

 

This shift, he says, is already starting to happen, with companies now looking to add support for NDN (name data networking) to the internet. ADLINK, where Corsaro is CTO, is one of the main actors in data-centric communication and has been working actively on a next generation NDN protocol that will unify data sharing down to extremely constrained devices – like a smart sensor. The first deployment of this new technology is expected to happen in Asia during the second half of 2019.

Corsaro says this technology allows data to be decentralised and will be a key enabler for edge computing (or “fog” computing, as he prefers to call it) as well as giving control of data back to citizens. Currently a vast amount of data is stored in clouds, which he says is a growing concern since clouds are often privately hosted by large corporations such as the GAFAM.

“I have been puzzled by some European Commission initiatives that fund and promote the use of mega-corporation private clouds in funded collaborative projects” he says. “There’s an opportunity for Europe to compete with the GAFAM dominance, that is investing in bringing data and control to the edge.”

Corsaro is passionate about the crucial need for ethics, not just in the next generation internet (NGI) but for all technology. He sees ethics education as well as the incorporation of European values such as fairness, access for all, decentralisation and democratisation as key elements to developing NGI technologies.

“I am a humanist,” he says. “Technology should be at the service of humans. The role of society should be to make people happy. Not by having the latest smartphone, but creating humans able to reason and appreciate art; people who know it’s a deep and difficult journey to achieve a full life.”

 

Technology, Corsaro says, should to be like medicine: while it cannot, arguably, solve major social problems, it should be put at the service of the humans to improve lives. And, like medicine, it must be implemented with ethics in mind. This is where Europe, he notes, should lead by example.

“We should recall 1789 – the year of the French revolution and the Declaration of universal rights of man. That’s Europe,” he says. “Europe has to wake up to and say ‘we built an ecosystem of nations in which we value people. There’s a social system of contribution and welfare. We’re not just batteries in the machine. There’s universal values. Access for everyone.’ If you put together all those European values, it’s a good basis for the next generation internet.”


EDGE COMPUTING IN 64 WORDS

Edge computing allows data produced by internet of things (IoT) devices to be processed closer to where it is created instead of sending it across long routes to data centers or clouds.

Doing this computing closer to the edge of the network lets organizations analyse important data in near real-time – a need of organizations across many industries, including manufacturing, health care, telecommunications and finance.

— Network world


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