Mobile phone creator Marty Cooper visits Ireland

Thursday 29 May 2014 22.45
Marty Cooper led a team at Motorola which in 1973 invented the first cell-phone
Marty Cooper led a team at Motorola which in 1973 invented the first cell-phone

The man credited with inventing the mobile phone has warned of the dangers of doing away with so-called net neutrality - the principle whereby all users of the internet are given equal access to it by those who control it.

Speaking to RTÉ News in Dublin, Marty Cooper said he is very concerned about US government proposals to allow people buy priority on the internet - something he doesn’t think is reasonable.

Mr Cooper said the idea that someone can buy prioritised access to the internet for music and entertainment purposes, to the detriment of other online services such as education and healthcare, doesn't make any sense at all.

"We have to keep the internet as neutral as possible and even more we've got to cut the cost of internet service down by orders of magnitude," he said.

"If we are going to have every student from the age of 3 or 4 years old until they are adults and beyond accessing all the information of the world as well as communicating with each other... the cost of the service has to be a tenth of what it is today."

Mr Cooper led a team at Motorola which in 1973 invented the first cell-phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x.

It took a further ten years to convert the 10inch 2.5lb block into a product for market.

But the development was to herald the start of a mobile revolution, something Mr Cooper says he and his team had some sense of at the time. "We knew someday everyone would have a cell phone," he says.

Today 85-year-old Mr Cooper is still active in the telecoms space, advising the US government on policy, as well as being involved in a number of companies.

He thinks modern mobile phones are technological marvels, adding at the time they invented the first mobile device, they could never have envisioned a billion transistors in one small unit, batteries that lasted for days or digital cameras.

But although he thinks they are "technological wonders", Mr Cooper doesn't think modern mobile phones are very good for people.

He claims they are much too hard to use and tend to make us slaves to the phone instead of being invisible, or at least transparent or intuitive.

His vision of mobile phones is that they ought to learn about you and adapt to you, instead of the other way around.

We still have much to learn about the technology, he claims, before mobile phones get a lot better.

Mr Cooper is in Dublin to speak at the Excited Digital Learning Festival in Dublin Castle on 30 and 31 May.

And he believes education is one of three areas where mobile phones still have the potential to revolutionise life.

We have the ability to have students connected to the internet all the time, where they can learn constantly both inside and outside the classroom, making us all smarter people, he claims.

The second area ripe for a mobile revolution, he believes, is healthcare - where constant monitoring of our bodies will allow us prevent rather than cure disease.

While the third is collaboration, as people eventually get so efficient at communicating using mobile devices, that they become able to solve the biggest global problems, the greatest of which is hunger, he says.

For more information on the Excited Digital Learning Festival, see www.excited.ie