Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Al Gore and Democratization of Technology

The Embedded Systems Conference is going on at the San Jose Convention Center from April 3rd to 5th. I happened to get an exhibits pass and made the most of it today. One of the perks was listening to a keynote by Al Gore, the man who was to be the next President as he himself put it. Its been more than 10 years since I listened to him speak live. The last time was at my graduation at MIT. I wrote about this momentous occasion back in February. However, this was a very different Al Gore than the one I heard then or on TV during the 2000 elections. He was very relaxed, self-deprecating and really did seem to be passionate about his vision. :-)

He spoke about the difference between flying on Air Force 2 and having to take off his shoes when he boarded a plane these days. He also talked a fair bit about technology, global warming, outsourcing and the short term point of view which we seem to be adopting in the US these days. He compared our generation to the "Greatest Generation" which returned from saving the world from fascism and helped reach out and rebuild the enemy with a moral authority, so that there was greater wealth and stability all around. He described a vision where we had the opportunity today to use technology and policy to solve the world's very real global warming problems and create wealth and jobs. Where we saw a crisis today, he pointed out that it presented both danger and opportunity. He pointed out that seizing this opportunity would require taking a longer term point of view and relying on a moral compass.

Just judging from this one speech, I am pretty sure he would win the election this time around if he chose to run, though I am not sure Hillary Clinton or the Republicans would be too happy about it. Of course, if he wanted a sympathetic audience, there's nothing to beat a Valley crowd. Which might explain why he keeps talking at all these Valley events :-) However, I do believe that he may have a tougher time convincing the larger US population on the moral compass and longer term points of view. The world seems to have changed much in fifty years and the idealism of the '50s and '60s, seems to have dimmed a bit. But, who knows, Al Gore may just be the man to reignite it. He certainly seems to glow with a new found passion and vision.

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