Being a fellow at RIPE 75 improved my understanding of what the multistakeholder model actually means, and I am sure it will help me later this month when attending the IGF in Geneva, supported by the RIPE NCC.
As a legal researcher, I thought I would feel like an alien at RIPE 75, an event I associated with the technical community. This would be my first technical event and my gut was telling me that while I would have a lot to convey from the legal world, I was not sure whether I could be successful in creating a common language in such a short amount of time. These uncertainties occupied my mind till the lunch of the first day, where I met the other RIPE fellows and my mentor.
I have to admit that I was amazed by the mentor program, which was the first time I have had a personal mentor, and quite different to the other Internet-related events I have attended as a fellow like the IGF (Youth@IGF) and EuroDIG (YouthDIG). My mentor was a perfect match regarding my interests and research, and tried his best to make me feel welcomed. Better yet, my mentor was no different to the rest of the community in welcoming me. With the guidance of my mentor, by the end of the first day, I had met a handful of people with backgrounds in law and humanities who made me feel less like an alien, as well as technical experts who were eager to feed my curiosity. Getting to know these people showed me that my desire to create a common language was already underway.
At the end of the first day of RIPE 75, I was surprised to see myself having deep conversations with seasoned RIPE community members about my passions like emerging technologies (especially artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things) and data privacy. For the first time, I was able to gain an in-depth understanding of the technical aspects involved in emerging technologies as well as the legal issues. At the end of the week, I was encouraged by RIPE NCC staff to take an active role in the IoT Working Group, which created an appetite for me to get more involved in this community. On the other hand, the willingness of the RIPE community to learn more about the data protection aspects of emerging technologies led me to believe that more legal voices are needed in the technical community. Another thing I have to admit, the community is full of humble people who are very easy to talk to and happy to see different voices - that encouraged me to start a conversation with anyone. When thinking of how hard it can be sometimes to start a conversation with experts, seeing the interest in their eyes was very supporting.
Along with the community, RIPE 75 was very well organised in many ways. Due to it being located in Dubai, I have gained a great deal of information about that region’s perspective on emerging technologies – a Ministry of Artificial Intelligence? :) Also, the presentations and the questions that were being asked during the sessions were very fruitful - Karen McCabe from IEEE sparking a conversation on the ethical use of technology and trust, as well as Kevin Meynell from the Internet Society starting a conversation on data ownership were very crucial moments for me due to the importance of those issues in the digital age we are currently living.
As a RIPE fellow, who is amazed by the willingness of the community to have a 360-degree view on emerging issues, I am extremely happy to have been a part of RIPE 75. I believe this experience will also help me to make the most out of my time at IGF 2017, which will be my second Internet Governance Forum. One year ago, I was avoiding most of the technical debates and now I can see how easy and productive it can be from my experience at RIPE 75. Knowing this, IGF 2017 will be a whole different experience, and I cannot wait to be a part of the workshops like “Internet of Things: Supportive Role of Smart Solutions in the Decision Making Process” hosted by Nirvana Farrag, or “The new Corporate Digital Responsibility; duties of care and the Internet of Things” hosted by De Ridder Stephanie, or the “Dynamic Coalition on Internet of Things”.
Being a part of the RIPE Fellowship program was an important step that I took in comprehending and getting involved in the Internet ecosystem, which consists of multiple stakeholders. As most of us struggle to understand what the multistakeholder model actually means, I believe RIPE 75 helped me understand it first-hand.
Dear RIPE family, many thanks for making this happen and helping me change my perspective to become a more conscious Internet actor.