Home | Third Culture | Digerati | Reality Club

Myhrvold on selected Digerati:
  • The Pragmatist
    < Stewart Alsop >
  • The Coyote
    < John Perry Barlow >
  • The Scout
    < Stewart Brand >
  • The Coach
    < John Doerr >
  • The Pattern Recognizer
    < Esther Dyson >
  • The Genius
    < Danny Hillis >
  • The Prodigy
    < Jaron Lanier >
  • The Scribe
    < John Markoff >
  • The Competitor
    < Scott McNealy >
  • The Oracle
    < Paul Saffo >
  • The Catalyst
    < Linda Stone >
The Chef
Nathan Myhrvold


MYHRVOLD: Hell if I know. You know, when Bill and I were discussing my taking this job, at one point he said, Okay, what are the great examples of successful CTO's. After about five minutes we decided that, well, there must be some, but we didn't have on the tip of our tongues exactly who was a great CTO, because many of the people who actually were great CTO's didn't have that title, and at least some of the people who have that title arguably aren't great at it.

My job at Microsoft is to worry about technology in the future. If you want to have a great future you have to start thinking about it in the present, because when the future's here you won't have the time.

BROCKMAN: So, what's happened with Microsoft's efforts regarding online publishing? Sounds like yet another example of "Brockman's Law": Nobody knows and you can't find out.

MYHRVOLD: That's basically right. At this stage in human history, technology plays a role that is enormously important. On Wall Street technology is one of the key leading indicators for the entire economy; something happens in high tech the whole market goes down. Back when the Dow theory was first developed they had the Dow industrials and they had the railroads, as the Dow transportation index. No one really cares about the transportation index anymore, but back when it was first created, it was an incredibly powerful force. If you did that today you'd have to have a technology index in some sense. And probably for the next 20 years, technology, particularly computer technology, is going to be one of the most dynamic parts of the economy and society. In the 20 year time frame time you could argue that genetic engineering and a variety of biological technologies are going to wind up having even more impact on us, because they'll cure our diseases.

But the biology stuff doesn't get to happen unless we get another 20 years of computing to happen. Suppose you sequence the human genome. You will have this thing that sits on a CD-Rom, and you're going to analyze it with computers. Writing it all out, all these strings of AGCT, is no fun at all. So the enormous revolution in biology that is about to take place is highly dependent on computing. Ultimately it's going to have a bigger impact. Certainly in another 20 or 30 years, as I'm entering my 60's, I'm hoping it'll have an impact.

My kids asked me the other day what the human genome project was about. I have these twins who are about 8 now. They'd heard about it, and they'd heard about DNA, and so I explained what people were doing. They said, well Daddy, why are they doing that? I replied by the time you're my age there may not be cancer or a whole bunch of other diseases. So they thought for a minute, one of them said by the time we're your age? Daddy, it might be too late for you! And it might. But the technology age fortunately isn't too late for me. I am a little bit in the thick of it. As everyone is right now.

Previous | Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 | Next