Craig Barrett

AGE: 63

CLAIM TO FAME: Barrett was an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University in 1974 when he joined Intel Corp. as technology development manager. Barrett rose through the ranks to head the biggest maker of microprocessors.

WHAT HE'S DOING NOW: CEO of Intel in Santa Clara, Calif.

What has been the biggest technology influence on your life? The biggest high-tech influence is probably the Internet as an information access device. I hardly use the telephone. I use e-mail compared to phone 99-to-1.

What advance will change our day-to-day lives? The next one is the elusive convergence of computing and communication and the whole wireless technology that's coming forth from 802.11 broadband and LAN wireless capability. We will have Wi-Fi hot spots becoming a network. We already have in some of our buildings 802.11 transmitters. If you ask anybody after having that technology for 30 seconds, it's pretty dramatic how much they want to keep it.

How will IT leadership change in the next 10 years? What will the IT organization look like? You are going to see a continuation of what's been happening with IT going from a stovepipe organization to more of an interactive capability with business units. With the whole movement of e-business and e-commerce and the coordination of databases and the ability to access quality of data, those things require IT to be more of a partner. Our IT function is composed of two halves: one is e-business and the other a classic IT org, and they are already a combined backbone within the company.

Which companies will be the big winners in the next decade, and why? Certainly, I think e-business service-type organizations will continue to grow and prosper. The Accentures and those people who do consulting services will grow. I think others that prosper will make the transition from either a computing backbone or a communications backbone as those two technologies converge. ... Companies with intrinsic capability in computing and communications will succeed. If you specialize in one, you'll suffer and find you have to be capable in both.

How much computing power will $100 buy in 10 years? If you assume Moore's Law for 10 years, you'll get at least 10 times the power, but the price points won't change. You'll just get 10 times compute power for the same dollars.

What new applications haven't been developed yet? The obvious one we talk about is the user interface. Wireless will come in a big way, so you won't have the rat's nest of wiring. Your computer will turn on instantly, and it will have everything from voice recognition to eyeball recognition, where you look at one part of screen and the computer goes there. That will happen in a lot less time than 50 years, although I remember that voice recognition was supposed to be coming 20 years ago. Actually, we're getting much closer to voice recognition, and what's driving that is the proliferation of computers in Asia where the keyboard is not working in Asian languages. The keyboard is a Western-language device.

In the short term, we'll have wireless connections between the PC and TV, with the TV to display your digital photos and videos, and you can use the PC over the house stereo to broadcast a thousand of your favorite songs, a la Napster. Also, if we get real broadband to the home, and I mean 10M bit/sec., for streaming video content on demand, then there are lots of exciting new ways of interacting with the PC. The business analogies to this are medical applications for diagnostics and distance education and the whole issue of creating rich dot-com commerce for people to interact with products.

What are the top innovations of the past 35 years? The PC has got to rank right up there, and it's only 22 years old. Also, the Internet for information access, commerce and rich media. And that's a bunch of technologies with backbone and fiber. Wireless communications has got to rank right up there. And storage media innovations and faster processor speeds, with the ability to put more bits per square centimeter. Those are the kind of big things that have changed the way we have behaved and given computational capability to the masses.

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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