Stanford University President John Hennessy discusses the future of business, technology, and Silicon Valley with David Patterson (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2016/3/198871), featured in the March 2016 Communications of the ACM. See the uncut full-length interview at vimeo.com/146145543.
00:00 If you know computer architecture, you know the name John Hennessy. If you know higher education, you know the name John Hennessy. And if you know technology business, you know the name John Hennessy.
00:17 This ACM Fellow has long been a leader in all three fields. He joined Stanford's Electrical Engineering faculty in 1977, succeeding Condoleezza Rice as its Provost in 1999 and becoming its President in 2000.
00:34 He created MIPS Computer Systems, co-authored best-selling books on computer architecture, joined the boards of corporations including Google and Cisco.
00:44 As he now prepares to finish his last year as President of Stanford University, Dr. Hennessy discussed his remarkable life, took stock of the world today, and looked at the future of business, technology, and education.
01:01 [Intro graphics/music]
01:10 John Hennessy is a familiar face among leaders in a wide range of fields.
01:18 On a breezy summer day at his Stanford office, he chatted with his long-time friend and co-author David Patterson, himself a former ACM President and recipient of numerous awards.
01:31 DAVID PATTERSON: You know, amazing things have happened in the last forty years in the information technology. So what do you think about the next forty years?
01:36 JOHN L. HENNESSY: The next 40 years are going to be about the excitement that's happening on software. I'm really excited about what's happening on machine learning and deep learning: This is really the breakthrough that was promised for many years. I think we're beginning to see it. I think the challenge is going to be on the hardware side. As Moore's Law begins to wane, how are we going to deliver the hardware that we need for these kinds of applications?
01:59 PATTERSON: You mentioned about machine learning. So there's a lot of excitement about the intersection of computer science and statistics, sometimes called data science. Do you think that's going to be subsumed in statistics and computer science, or it's going to be like computer science was when we were young, become its own kind of department?
02:16 HENNESSY: I think we'll see a generation of scientists coming from physics or biology or chemistry who use data science-centric approaches.
02:27 PATTERSON: Are there fields that computer science hasn't traditionally interacted with that would be really great for us to interact with over the next few years?
02:35 HENNESSY: I think we're seeing the era of big data and the place where it's really creating interesting changes are in the social sciences.
02:46 PATTERSON: So Marc Andreessen called you "The Godfather of Silicon Valley." [both laugh] Do people come by and visit for advice and stuff?
02:52 HENNESSY: Students are very interested in doing this, right? Particularly undergraduates. The question I always start with is: Tell me about your technology. Where's your sustainable advantage in your technology? "Well, I've got an idea! I've got an idea!" [laughs] So you've got to figure out what's your unique contribution. Do you have a sustainable advantage? Do you have something new you're bringing to the party? Will you create economic value? Will you create a compelling opportunity for people?
03:23 PATTERSON: So both of us came to The San Francisco Bay Area in 1977. So speaking chauvinistically, I got to say over my career, I'm just amazed at the success of this region.
03:31 HENNESSY: It welcomes people from all different experiences. No matter where you come from in the world, you can probably find the kind of food you like, you can find people who are similar to you in this environment in The Valley.
03:42 Find out more in "An Interview with Stanford University President John Hennessy", in the March 2016 issue of Communications of the ACM.
03:52 [Outro and credits] HENNESSY: Good, that was fun! Good questions.