Matthew Szulik

Open-source advocate

Age: 45

Claim to fame: He's a major and vocal booster of open-source software, advocating its use in environments ranging from corporations to schools. He's made a commitment to make open-source software available to U.S. schools free of charge to improve technology education in cash-strapped districts.

What he's doing now: CEO, president and chairman of Red Hat Inc., the leading Linux operating system vendor in the U.S. market, in Raleigh, N.C.

In a world of flashy space shuttles and supercomputers, the biggest technology influence on the life of Matthew Szulik has been the homely telephone.

"It gives you the ability to reach people instantaneously and make decisions rapidly, at a comparatively cheap price," he says. But as important as the phone has been, the future of technology innovation holds even more promise, says Szulik.

Matthew Szulik, CEO, president and chairman of Red Hat Inc.
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Matthew Szulik, CEO, president and chairman of Red Hat Inc.
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In particular, the continuing miniaturization of devices will have a growing impact on our lives, especially in the fields of health care and biotechnology, he says.

"This generation takes it incredibly for granted. If you've ever had a knee problem, what was once a year's rehab can now be 30 days," thanks to huge advancements in microsurgery made possible through technology, Szulik says. Also to come are advancements in disease discovery and treatment through greater use of case-study databases, he says.

In business IT, the changes will come in improved security and user recognition, as well as in new approaches to using computers, says Szulik. Accurate and faster ID authentication will allow people to use any computer anywhere and be secure, he says, while computers will eventually be so integrally built into our homes and businesses that accessing them will be as easy as plugging in a lamp.

"We'll be buying computer power the same way we buy electricity in 10 years," Szulik predicts.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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