The IT activity that already exists in Ireland will help create economic growth into the future according to Vint Cerf, a man credited as being one of the "fathers of the internet".

Mr Cerf commended the country's success in attracting multinationals like Google and Microsoft and said the ever-changing nature of technology meant there were always opportunities arising from new developments.

"Technology is not static... every time you do something with software you break something and you require people to fix it, you require people to teach other people how to use it; there are all kinds of things that come along with this dramatic evolution of technology," he said.

"In that sense the more IT activity that you can undertake here the bigger opportunity there is to be helpful to other people."

Mr Cerf is now a vice president of Google and was in Dublin last week to give a public address on the future of the internet.

Best known for his work in creating the TCP/IP protocol - which allowed computers to connect to each other and formed the basis for the internet - Mr Cerf also helped develop the first commercial email system in the world.

He said the next big shift online will come from mobility and "the internet of things" where everyday items - even light bulbs - are networked.

"Before you say 'well why would anybody do that'... the honest answer is once you put something on the net you make it something controllable, that can report and you can manage," he said. "The more devices that are on the net the more opportunities there are for third parties to offer services based on the fact that those devices are reachable.

"There's just a raft of potential waiting to penetrate through the IT space as the cost of these devices comes down."

However Mr Cerf cautioned that there were also many threats to the internet's future, particularly from government-led regulation.

"This open, free internet is under threat and it's under threat for some understandable reasons, some of which are reasonable and some of which are less so," he said.

Mr Cerf said by being open to the general public the internet could be used and abused but people should tread lightly when trying to deal with that.

"We have people who lie, cheat, steal, [commit] fraud, send out worms and viruses and do all kinds of bad things, some of which they could do on other infrastructure like through the telephone, the postal service or face to face," he said. "The not-so-good aspect is the tools you use to help cope with these problems can also be abused.... nothing is said about the fact that all those tools that had to be used to reveal all those bad things can also be used to suppress political speech and so on."

Mr Cerf said it was important to remember that the internet is still in its infancy and people are still trying to come to terms with its potential. He said it was his belief that an online etiquette would develop over time just as it has in society.

He also disagreed with the idea that personalisation, where companies like Google present search results based on what they think the user would like, is a threat to the neutrality of online information.

He said people already filter what they interact with on a daily basis and it was now just a case that a computer algorithm could do that as well.

Besides being Google's chief internet evangelist, Mr Cerf has also recently helped develop the protocols for an interplanetary internet, which will form the basis for future communications across space.

He said the idea was to slowly build a space-based network on a mission-by-mission basis as the network was vital for any future missions to Mars or beyond.