DISCOVERY LEARNING CENTER - GRAND OPENING
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER
OCTOBER 18, 2002
"TECHNOLOGY TODAY - A NEW WORLD RENAISSSANCE"
© Copyright 2002 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.
Thank you very much.
President Hoffman, Dean Davis, and honored guests, it is really a pleasure for me to be here this afternoon, and I really want to thank you for letting me be part of this very special day.
One of the things that I think I love the most about this ceremony is that we have to be out by two o'clock because there's a math class coming in. And what that shows me is that here at CU, learning doesn't slow down for anyone or anything. And that is as it should be. And that is, in fact, the reason why HP is so proud to have been your partner and continues to be your partner over the years.
President Hoffman was kind enough to run through all of that HP has been proud to give to CU over the years, but I guarantee you that we have received at least as much in return, and I am not simply talking about the purchases that CU has madealthough we appreciate very deeply those as well. I'm speaking of the reason that we are in a position to help invent and create the future is because this school has invented and created so many wonderful scientists and engineers that are ready to make a contribution to our company, and to our worldfrom day one.
It's been said that of all the great contributions that science and technology have made to the world we live in today, perhaps one of the greatest contributions our discipline has made is the very idea of partnership itself. Many of the greatest discoveries in history have come about as the result of collaboration, with two great minds, or a team of great minds, dreaming up a product, or a service, or a skill that has never been thought of before. And I actually refer to technology as the ultimate team sport, because I think it is the ultimate in collaboration.
And seeing an invention through the conception, design and execution of it, working hard to move it from an idea to reality, and believing in the power of an idea, when everyone else says: "It will never work, it will never happen, it cannot be done;"those are times when great collaborations and great partnerships are both tested and necessary. And into that great tradition of innovation and collaboration, CU is opening the latest chapter here today.
In a long history of partnerships that brought us Watson and Crick, and Hewlett and Packard, today we add the unique partnership between the Discovery Learning Center and the Integrated Teaching and Learning Lab, as a place where innovation combined with collaboration will help push the boundaries of science and technology. The fact that these two facilities are connected by a walking bridge is a perfect metaphor for the kind of thinking and learning and sharing of ideas that will happen here.
I have to be very honest, when I walked through this facility and saw some students at work, with the kind of hands-on learning that has made this program so famous, it has actually a very familiar feel to it. Not just because Hewlett-Packard's entire Fort Collins lab reads like a Who's Who of CU graduatesand as I told your president, we have rabid CU fans in HPbut also because you have managed to recreate in a university setting, exactly the same kind of environment that industry leaders like HP depend upon to invent the future.
And it is that shared future and the role that we all have in shaping it, that I'd like to spend a few minutes on with you here today. Of course breaking new ground is nothing new for CU. You have been doing that in fact, for more than a century. It was exactly 108 years ago that the very first building, constructed for scientific studies, was opened here at CU in honor of the second CU president, Horace Hale. And with the fanfare of buildings like it across America came the hopes and dreams of an entire nation.
The historian Stephen Ambrose, who passed away just recently, once wrote that at the beginning of the 19th century, people thought nothing was possible. But at the end of the century, which had witnessed inventions like the locomotive, the steamship, the telegraph, and the electric light bulball immense leaps not only in commerce and transportation, but in human ingenuitypeople thought anything was possible. And it is no coincidence that during the same decade that it was opened, the head of the U.S. Patent Office reportedly and probably apocryphally, said, "Everything that can be invented, has been invented." It was that kind of age.
And I believe that we are living through the same kind of age today…an age when in fact everything is possible; and yet perhaps our sense of what is possible is a bit less optimistic today than it might have been a couple of years ago. But today it's important to remember that new advances in science and technology are allowing us to explore vast new frontiers, from a galaxy twelve billion light years away, to the smallest genetic switch inside a human cell. The complete mapping of the human genome has begun to help us identify genetic variances for everything from Parkinson's disease, to Alzheimer's, to breast cancer that could lead to a cure.
We have seen early work on genetic chips that can replicate the functions of damaged spinal cords. And thanks to the digital revolution, over the next three years there will be more data created, more data that needs to be mined, analyzed, stored, networked, distributed, and ultimately, we hope, turned into insight and information. More data will be created in the next three years than has been created in the entire history of mankind. In a very real way, facilities like the Discovery Learning Center are repositories. Not only for the great hopes of science, but for the great hopes of humanity.
That is the good news. The bad news is that during this same time we have also seen the flip side of a world where technology has collapsed distances, torn down walls, and spread valuable information. But for all the possibilities created by the information age, September 11th helped remind us that it also creates vast new opportunities for the forces of destruction to enter our lives.
And, as a student who hopes to make a career in engineering, or the sciencesfor all of those of you who are students and who hope to make that your career, I think it's important to keep that perspective. Because the world in which you will be creating, inventing, and innovating will be much different and have much different needs than the world we see today.
Not long after September 11th, I heard an example of what the world would actually look like if the Earth's entire population was shrunk down to a village of precisely 100 people. And we kept all the Earth's existing human ratios the same. Of those 100 people, 57 would be from Asia. 21 would be from Europe. 14 would be from the Western Hemisphere. 8 would be from Africa. 80 of the 100 would live in substandard housing; 70 would be unable to read; 65 would have never made a phone call; 50 would suffer from malnutrition; 20 would never had had a clean drink of water; Only one would have a college education. And for all of our focus on technology, for all of the high-tech advances we take for granted in our world, only one would own a computer.
Now, take that analogy one step further. Imagine if all those people actually did live in one village. Imagine if they were all painfully aware of how the others lived; Imagine the resentment that would build up in that village if those who didn't have food, did not see those who had food making an effort; If those who had access to clean water didn't even think about those who didn't; If the person with the college education and the computer went out and bought a car and a satellite television and simply enjoyed their life, while the children across the street sat in darkness under a leaky roof, begging for food. What would happen? It is actually not hard to imagine how that kind of disparity would eventually lead to something terrible and tragic.
The heartening news is that it's actually not too late to do something about it, particularly in an age where everything actually is possible. And I think that is something this school understands well. The University of Colorado has always impressed upon its student body that good citizenship means global citizenship, and that building a stronger world here at home means working to build a stronger world in places we don't see every day among people we may never meet. That in all the vivid images we have in the past year of how technology can be used as a weapon of war, the continuing message of this school is that we cannot lose sight of its equally powerful potential as an instrument of peace and advancement.
When the information revolution began a generation ago, its pioneers were motivated by a two-part vision. The first part of the world was one in which technology allowed all of us to do the things that we do every daybut do them faster, and cheaper, and easier, and more productively. The second part of this world was one where technology brought all of us closer together, forged new ties between nations, and increased social capital as well as financial capital. The first part of that vision has come truefor some. But the second part of that vision has not yet occurred. It is within our capacity today to use this newly dangerous world we all live in as an impetusnot just to connect computers, but to connect communities, to connect people, and to make the second part of that vision a reality.
If you look in world history, there is a precedent for addressing this dynamic and one that we can learn from. And oneyou might not be surprised to knowI first studied in college when I was looking at medieval history.
Nearly seven centuries ago, the ideas that gave rise to the Italian Renaissance, which was also a time of darkness moving into a time of light and possibility, were the province of the educated class. Knowledge itself was elitist. You had to have a genius memory because very few books existed. Manuscripts did come along, handwritten by scholars and clergy, and they were all written in Latin. And they were so valuable that monasteries and libraries actually secured them with chains. The printing press freed the books from their chains and began to widen the communities of knowledge.
But the printing press by itself was not enough to make knowledge more widespread. That began only when entrepreneurs who were willing to take risks and finance a printing of 500 or 1000 volumes, hoping they would find buyers eager to pay for the portable knowledge on those pages. These entrepreneurs led not just one innovation, but two. Because in seeking out new markets for their books, these printers actively recruited people who could translated the books from Latin and make them relevant and understandable to entirely new populations. Translators made it possible for a person who spoke only one language to have access to the brilliant thought of a dozen languages, including Latin, Greek, and Arabic; and French, German, English, Dutch and Spanish.
The printers of the early 16th century were taking risks, but they were taking wise and calculated risks because they were betting on the curiosity of people. They were betting on people's desire for knowledge, their eagerness for learning and advancement and improvement. And they created the means for the advancement and the flowering of the Renaissance. And in the process, they did very well by doing good.
To bring this analogy to the present day, I would suggest that the information revolution began many years ago in the hands of a learned class. Mostly scientists and visionaries; some, like Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who imagined a world connected by computers but had no way to deliver it to the masses. And in the broad scheme of things, the Internet was the equivalent of the printing press, making it possible for a great number of people to have access to the same information.
And so today, knowledge is clearly global, but it is far from universal. It will reach the developing world only if those who create the technology that powers our lives can match the fruits of their labor in collaboration with partners and allies at the local level, to make technology available, understandable, and relevant to people's lives. I think history actually now calls on usthose of us who invent technology, who can teach the use of technology to the wider worldto play both roles that we saw printers take 500 years ago both as entrepreneurs seeking wider markets, and translators making it relevant to a local population. To deliver technology that is measured based on the human potential that it unlocks and unleashes and liberates. I believe that part of our responsibility as industry leaders, as technology companies, as universities, as engineers, as scientists, and yes, even as studentsis to work together to create technologies like the teaching, the applications, and the methodology to widen the communities of knowledge in the modern world.
For too many years it was too easy for people in the developed world to look at disparities in the developing world and assume that just because people in the developing world lacked opportunity, they lacked talent. Hewlett-Packard is a company that now has 150,000 people in 140-plus companies around the world. And I can tell you that people everywhere have talent. What the digital age is helping to prove is that those assumptions and ugly stigmas are clearly wrong. Not only does every single person have potential inside of them, but it is also true that the right use of information technology can help unlock that potential and take our world to places we have not yet been. As we see in our newest technology, applied to solutions like telemedicine, tele-agriculture, Internet banking, distance learning, e-commerce, local language and voice recognition softwarethese newest technologies have a unique ability to help countries and communities leapfrog years of development to close the gap between technology-empowered communities and technology-excluded communities.
Now it's possible of course to make the argument that if people don't have safe drinking water or they lack basic health care, that they really shouldn't be worried about Internet connections. And of course, efforts to develop public health systems and open schools and clean water must continue to be the work of governments and international organizations. And as industries, and educational institutions, we can and should help there as well. But it actually is a false choice that clean water and basic health must precede the adoption of technology, because information technology provides opportunities.
Let me give you an example. This is one of the favorite examples of South Africa's president, President Mbeke; one he talks about a great deal. In parts of Africa and Asia today, local citizens with health problems often die for three reasons. First, because there are not adequate roads to connect small villages to the big cities where the hospitals are; second, because they can't afford ambulances to make the round trip, even if the roads do exist; and third, even if the roads are adequate and the ambulances are available, the ride is so long that people sometimes frequently die en route. Telemedicine offers the opportunity to bypass all of that, allowing doctors in local villages to immediately consult with experts half a continent away or even half a world away. And that possibility can change everything.
I have been to schools in Africa where the chemistry lab had no equipment: no beakers, no chemicals, just empty desks. And teachers would draw pictures on the blackboard of what a chemical reaction was supposed to look like. But if you walked down the hall to a computer lab, you would find students who had found a chemistry web site, and they were developing a chemical experiment online, and they were elated. The more we can bring this technology to the most remote parts of the developing world, the quicker we can bring a world of information that they would not otherwise have access to.
I come to you today from a company, HP, which like CU, has never thought conventionally about itself or its role in the world. For six decades, our company has believed that making a contribution is as important as making a profit. And that leadership is defined by a company's character as much as by its capability; and that how we get things done is as important as what we get done.
These are fundamental beliefs that are still at the foundation of everything we do. As a global company, we believe that with global reach must come global responsibilities. On the one hand, it means being a good global citizen, maintaining high standards in areas like the environment, or ethics, or corporate governance, or labor and human rights. And on the other hand, it means being really part of the communities in which we do business.
I think traditionally we have looked at disparities in the developing world and we've asked two fundamental questions. First, how do we use our money to provide people with the resources they need to make a difference? Second, how do we use our talents to make sure citizens in the developing world have the training to use the technology or equipment we facilitate, once they've got it?
Now, what traditional philanthropy has always been about is using our money. But if we have learned anything in this new global economy, we have learned that traditional philanthropy is no longer enough, because in asking those two questions of how we use our money, and how we use our talents, we rarely, traditionally, have taken the leap to a third question: how do we engage their talents? How do we engage local citizens in local communities in the developing world to learn what's important to them, and what goals they hope to achieve?
We in the IT community too rarely ask local citizens in the developing world what do they actually think? What do they actually need? Either because the market share hasn't been there, or the profit motive hasn't been there. But if we never make the leap to that third fundamental question, then IT companies leave off the table those very assets. Our ability to invent locally relevant products, our project management skill, our ability to set goals and meet themthese are talents that make us most relevant, that make us most able to engage with local communities.
The truth is, financial capital alone is not the greatest wealth that IT companies can bring to the developing world. It is human capital. It is experience and knowledge and the ability to transmit this into capacity building; the ability to size up a problem and invent a solutionthe very things that CU teaches so wellespecially at a time when the challenges are so great. We need to apply all of our talents, all of the talent in the world, to solving these problems.
In a sense, at HP we believe that this new age we are living through today marks the beginning of a new era of leadership; that now more than ever, IT leaders have an opportunity to redefine the role of a company, to leverage our ability to improve the lives of people and communities for the better. And in fact, I believe that as was true decades ago, so it is true today, that it is possibleindeed necessaryto do well by doing good.
And that's why we are working to create a new model of involvement, one that taps more deeply into the things we do best and into talent that exists all over the world. For example, instead of simply committing resources like computers or printers, or even money, and wishing them well, we are committing some of our best talent to work with some of the best talent in underdeveloped communities, from East Palo Alto, to India, to South Africa, to Houston. Putting our people in place with people from those local communities for up to three years, and charging them with the responsibility of working with local citizens to set goals and create solutions, for the challenges that the community prioritizes.
So it's not about recycling outdated PCs, or imposing Western technology on developing nations. Like those printers who sought translators 500 years ago, it is inherently about working in collaboration with partners, governments, and citizens, at the local level, to invent locally sustainable solutions that are culturally relevant and actually desired.
It is about rethinking how technology can empower, and sustain, and liberate rather than exclude, and erode, and restrain. It is about recognizing that technology is a means to an end, not an end in itself. In short, I think it actually is about bringing to the global economy what CU teaches its students to do every single day.
And why do it? In fact, the argument I am making is not one for compassion, it is an argument for enlightened self-interest; first, of course, because of the security dimensionbecause poverty anywhere undermines stability everywhere. But second, because if we look beyond the next quarter or two, particularly for an industry where only 10 percent of the world can buy our products, we have to acknowledge that the ideas and markets of the future will come from the developing world. And so I think there has never been a better time when doing the right thing also happens to mean doing the smart business thing.
And that is why I think the Discovery Learning Center is poised to make such a difference. Here in Boulder, you offer students the opportunity to learn in ways more relevant, more progressive, more hands-on, and more involved, than they can learn just about anywhere else. But you also teach, I think, and this is so important, you also teach the one intangible that is most vital to being an inventor or an engineer, or a scientist in a changing world; and that is, that as much as technology changes, fundamental values do not. And that in essence, being a scientist is not just about creating new processes or inventions that build on common understanding. Being a scientist is about making change that builds a common humanity.
At Hewlett-Packard we have been proud to be your partners in that effort, and we look forward to doing great things together in the days and years to come. Not just to build inventions that change our world, but to build understanding that builds our common humanity.
Thank you very much.
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