Under the leadership of Professor Leonard Kleinrock, UCLA is establishing a newly funded center devoted to shaping the future of the Internet and computer networking. It is called The UCLA Connection Lab.
This Lab will provide resources to recruit and retain top faculty and will support research conducted by undergraduates, graduate students, visitors and postdoctoral scholars from various disciplines. It also will facilitate startups by seeding priority research and connecting members of the Lab with industry and government leaders, many of whom will be invited to share space in the Lab. This structure will provide a rich environment for collaboration, innovation and research.
The UCLA Connection Lab is designed to provide an environment that will support advanced research in technologies at the forefront of all things regarding connectivity and will deliver the benefits from that research to society globally. The Lab’s broad-based agenda will enable faculty, students and visitors to pursue research challenges of their own choosing, without externally imposed constraints on scope or risk. It will draw inspiration from UCLA’s foundational role as the birthplace of the internet
When Nicholas Negroponte and Jerry Wiesner founded The MIT Media Lab in 1985, they did not think in terms of a narrow focus, but rather they created an environment with design as the guiding principle for the work to be done in that Lab. Leonard Kleinrock is using the same approach in that The UCLA Connection Lab is also an environment for research, but in this case the underlying theme is connectivity and connectivity is viewed in a very inclusive way. Anything having to do with connectivity is appropriate research, including advanced work on the Internet, wireless technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, social networking, machine learning, secure networks and blockchain technologies. The latter example may seem surprising, but blockchains use a network of distributed ledgers whose proper operation is a connectivity issue.
Dr. Kleinrock has a big goal – he wants to replicate the paradigm shift of the Internet. When he helped to create the Internet, it had the luxury of 20 years to incubate and grow in an environment that was not driven by greed or speculation. It was carefully curated before it became subject to the profit motive because it was the domain of engineers and academics who were creating a new underlying network technology. It had a very stable foundation before it became a commercial tool that reached billions of people and provided enormous benefits along with certain dark side detriments. Today’s new technologies do not have that luxury. They appear quickly in a financially-driven commercial environment. For example, blockchain had no time to be curated, having been born imprinted with a dollar sign. Its development is being driven by speculators while at the same time offering the potential of innovative applications and technology.
The UCLA Connection Lab will be housed in a newly renovated space in historic Boelter Hall, just down the hall from the room where the first Internet message was sent. This facility will contain state-of-the-art networking and media capabilities and will serve as a nexus for discovery and innovation by the faculty, students, and other researchers associated with the Lab. We anticipate the new facility will open in June 2019. But Connection Lab research is not waiting on this renovation, and is already under way. Among its other uses, the new facility will host the IRI students, not only giving them a great place to carry out their projects, but exposing them to the other advanced research going on in this Lab.
The UCLA Connection Lab is funded with donations from individuals and groups committed to advancement of the use and understanding of advanced networking in society. Our inaugural donor is the Sunday Group, which has generously provided funds for creation, operation, and endowment of the UCLA Connection Lab.
With its open inclusive structure, the UCLA Connection Lab will help to realize the vision of creating high leverage technologies as was accomplished years ago with the Internet.