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Reflecting on Technology with Masood Mortazavi

Posted by hiheiss on December 12, 2008 at 2:35 PM PST

Check out Part One of my provocative (if I do say so myself) interview titled "Meet Sun Software Engineering Manager Masood Mortazavi, Part 1: Reflections on Computers, Technology, and Life", with Sun software engineering manager Masood Mortazavi, who reflects on the meaning of technology, the pitfalls of virtual reality, the nature of open source movements, the value of bugs, and more. Mortazavi studied with the Berkeley philosopher Hubert Dreyfus, author of What Computers Still Can’t Do (a revision of an earlier book, What Computers Can’t Do) and has very thoughtful observations regarding the future of information technology.

Among other things, Mortazavi argues:

* Contrary to the claims of Bill Joy and others about the future danger of artificial intelligence, ”As technologists, we have failed in the past and will fail in the future to create something that is computational and robotic and enough like ourselves to pose an existential threat to us.”

* ”Computers and the Internet are in serious danger of destroying
personal relationships.”

* ”Working on bugs is the best way to learn about complex systems of code as well as simple ones. In fact, if we think of missing
features as ‘bugs’ in disguise, we can learn about programs as we
‘fix’ them.”

* He agrees with virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier that "there’s something quite disturbing about the cult of personality (or cult of personalities) that has developed in some open-source communities, which usually occurs because the processes of some particular community have been too weak to encourage self-organization and self-management."

Part Two will get into the basics of his work as a developer and software engineering manager at Sun.

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Hi Ralph, Thanks so very very much for taking the time to give me this welcome feedback. I feel the same as you. Masood's depth and breadth of knowledge just astounds me. Just fyi, he's also been the most wonderful person to work with so he's also a GREAT guy. :) Jan

Janice, This really was a GREAT interview. I've followed his blog for several years simply for the sheer knowledge and wide interest he exhibits. I'm looking forward to Part 2. Ralph