Interview with Ken Kutaragi -- "I want to draw a picture on a stark white campus" (page 3)

Interview with Ken Kutaragi

Apr 9, 2001

Technology is at the heart of everything

-- Don't you think that we in general are getting short of such engineers with a pure heart?

Kutaragi: Surely the number of such engineers is on the decrease. I am clearly aware of such circumstances. I am concerned about the engineers being brand name-oriented. I say to myself, can't they be more pure? They are the creators, creating something is what matters and technology lies at the backbone. My belief is that technology is at the core of everything.For instance, when conducting questionnaires to science and technological students to find out what companies they want to work for, Sony wins the top place. Why would they want to work for Sony? At my time, Sony and Matsushita Electric Industrial were unpopular and the company the students most wanted to work for was NTT. But nowadays, we sometimes see Japan Air Lines rank to the top. I say to myself why Japan Air Lines? If the students were researching on aeromechanics and desired to make airplanes, wouldn't Lockheed Martin Corp. likely to be their most preferred destination? By reviewing the results of the ranking survey, the students just seem to be participating in a popular vote or even what's-cool vote. Pursuing after brands is surely not the right thing those students should be looking for.

--Is the number of engineers with pure heart declining at Sony?

Kutaragi:Overwhelmingly yes. That is one of our concerns these days. There still does underlie the question of whether Sony is purely an enterprise of technology even now. It is my idea that we should highly evaluate the technology itself. Of course Sony is in a better position on the whole and I am proud of Sony myself. When speaking of students, whether science-related or not, I ask them why they want to work for Sony, what their identities are. Given these questions, they all say something alike. Maybe saying something alike is easier than having identity of your own.

That is the negligence of the engineers

--You are not saying that the technology has lost its charm

Kutaragi: Not in the least. Technology is at the height of interest at the moment. There is no other ideal era than now to be given birth and experience such exciting things. If you were able to choose the moment to be born, obviously you would say "now." It has been only a few years since semiconductors and microprocessors made appearance. Same thing can be said of computer science. In addition, you have the general idea of what the core technologies of semiconductors will be like ten years from now. Development of optical technologies is under way in the field of communication. For those people who can always find something of interest, there is no other amusing moment than now. Furthermore, now at present is the most important period of time in drawing blueprint for the future. Thus it is so much rewarding for engineers, because the future depends on them. Once they make mistakes, the future will be in a mess. For instance, establishing a website without giving thoughts to anything will cause problems of copyrights. Computer virus spreads in a flash. Ebola and HIV viruses are passed on through human beings, but computer virus just spreads by its own. Nothing in the world in our history has moved so speedy as the spread of computer viruses.

--What are your views on the world's confusion to the appearance of such services as Napster?

Kutaragi:It was an innovative event that a Peer-to-Peer software has debuted in the network. But the network became the current tropology when TCP/IP appeared. Going back to the time five years ago, it could have been easy to predict the form of P-to-P. When looking back, it seems that even I could have worked out the model of P-to-P out if I had given a serious thought to the matter during the New Year holidays. It was the negligence of the Japanese networking engineers that they did not come up with the idea. There are too many watchers who criticize other people's technologies and there are too little who really are giving everything a good thought. Those mere criticizers claim they are engineers, but alas, they are salaried workers. They think they understand their stints by reading NIKKEI ELECTRONICS, for instance. It is nothing if the magazine knows more than the field in which you specify. Don't you think?