Intel’s Craig Barrett on the U.N. and Silicon Valley

February 28th, 2007 |
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Intel Chairman Craig Barrett says Silicon Valley IT companies are in the right place at the right time to help the United Nations address the world’s health, education, and economic problems. Barrett, who has been appointed the chairman of the U.N.’s Global Alliance for ICT and Development, says, “My job is to make sure that we don’t talk a lot, but we do a lot.” The Alliance will meet today at the the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., to discuss the role of Silicon Valley in the U.N.’s information technology goals. PodTech’s Jason Lopez interviewed Intel’s chairman at the company’s headquarters in Santa Clara. Intel made this video possible.

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Transcript:

Host: Jason Lopez – PodTech

Guest: Craig Barrett – Intel

Jason Lopez – PodTech

I am Jason Lopez, this is PodTech.net and I am here with Craig Barrett, who is the Chairman of Intel Corporation but also the Chairman of the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development for the UN. Welcome to the video podcast Craig.

Craig Barrett – Intel

It is good to be back with you.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

Tell us about this Alliance and what the aims are?

Craig Barrett – Intel

Jason, Alliance it started little less than a year ago and Kofi Annan when he was Secretary General of the UN kicked this off and it really designed to try to speed up the bringing of information and communication technology to the developing world, trying to bring this capability to Africa to the wilds of Latin America, wilds of Asia, to allow those countries and the people in those countries to catch up to a certain degree with the developed world, in the use of communication and information technology and the Internet.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

One of the goals of the Alliance is to identify areas, where the Alliance and Silicon Valley can work together to bring access to IT, to the developing world. I want if you could speak to the idea of an initiative between Intel and other companies and the United Nations.

Craig Barrett – Intel

I think there have been a lot of good examples of this, recently for example, in the last three or four months, Intel’s worked with other private companies around the world to bring the Information Technology, the Internet to remote villages in five different countries, Brazil, South Africa, China, India, Egypt.

We have done that on our own without the government’s — funding of government involvement. We have a lot of programs around the world with governments, so does Microsoft, so does Cisco, so a number of other Hi-Tech companies.

The UN has realized that the technology companies have the technology aware with — they might not have all the money to drive this, but they have the technology knowledge more than the UN does, more than local governments do. So, getting the companies to play into this development effort is important. Getting some of the funding agencies like the World Bank or the Indo-American Development Bank, those NGOs who have capability to fund these good ideas is important and then to work with the local governments as well, the ultimate public private partnership, everybody brings to the game that which they do best and the result is much better than that anyone tries to do it by themselves.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

Of course it has been talk about the effectiveness of the UN and when it comes to an Alliance that is charged with brining IT to the developing world to solve some of these problems which you have outlined. It sounds more like an initiative that requires that you roll up your sleeves to do something about it, I don’t want if you could speak to that issue.

Craig Barrett – Intel

Well, we tried to make it very clear at the first meeting, we had that this is not a debating society, not a talking society, that what we should do is, pick a very few specific areas, targeted focus, something we could do well and make it happen, get everybody to buy into it. We have picked two or three areas, one is broadband for Africa, one is wiring up digital villages, one is a kind of a volunteer core of IT specialist to go around the world to help implement these things. Another potential area is IT and communication technology for the disabled or the handicap.

But we are not trying to solve world hunger, we are not trying to do everything for everybody and we have made it very clear that it is not a debating society it is an action-oriented group, if we don’t get action, we don’t get results then I think everyone will get tired very quickly and go away. My job is to make sure that we don’t talk a lot but we do a lot.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

And then the ‘do a lot’ part, you have mentioned places like Brazil and Egypt. These happened to be places where there are also little IT mini Silicon Valleys kind of sprouting up in the Middle East, Israel and in Brazil there is IT going on there, in Russia, you start naming these places India, China, there are IT manufacturing and development areas, how much does that lend itself to the accomplishment of goals which you have?

Craig Barrett – Intel

To a certain degree depend on that local infrastructure. If you are going to figure out how to get very low cost computers to Nigeria or to South Africa, Brazil you probably want to use Brazilian companies as part of the game. If you are going to bring Communication Technology to those countries, it is going to be local communication companies are part of the solution, but again, that is part of the public/private partnerships. It is not just multinational private companies, it is local private companies playing as well.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

There seems to be kind of a change in the environment right now around the way business operates in the world. It used to be the businesses where sort of off on their own, they were in their own universe and they played by their own rules practically, but now it seems like businesses are sort of citizens of the world and they have rights and responsibilities, do you think things have changed a bit in the times?

Craig Barrett – Intel

I think there has obviously been a greater movement or just nebulous thing called Corporate Social Responsibility, where many companies throughout their whole history have chosen to give back, but it is much more socially demanded or acceptable to — for companies to get involved in this area and certainly you see other things, the Gates Foundation and the Moore Foundation, foundations that the individuals have gotten into the game as well, but whereas companies like Intel or Microsoft or Cisco have had programs throughout their history as they become bigger and more powerful companies those programs have expanded as well.

So, they have a greater impact and a greater reach. I think you have seen that maturity of the Corporate Social Responsibility actions of companies along with the growth of those companies and the import of those companies around the world, they just have a bigger impact today.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

Is it something having to do with the IT nature of these businesses?

Craig Barrett – Intel

I am not sure it has as much to do with the IT nature of these businesses as we are focusing on IT because the Internet has become exponentially more important in the last few years. Computers in Communication Technology have become exponentially more important in the development of countries and their economic growth, their educational processes, their healthcare delivery systems.

So, the technology we bring to the game could not be more important and it is the kind of the cream has risen to the top and we are involved in this very high level, very important, very basic activity and we just happened to be at the right place at the right time in terms of what the world needs and what governments around the world want for their citizens.

Jason Lopez – PodTech

Okay, thank you very much Craig Barrett for being on this video podcast.

Craig Barrett – Intel

Good to be back with you Jason.

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