Vinod Khosla –a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and its first Chairman is a highly respected Silicon Valley investor as the general partner of Kleiner Perkins. Over the last few years, he has moved away from technology to Energy and Greentech.
Yesterday he delivered an interesting talk at Caltech on Extrapolating the past Vs Inventing the future. The talk was peppered with some brilliant statements, some philosophical musings and scenarios for the future. I found the talk scintillating The entire talk can be viewed here. (The audio quality at the beginning of the session is poor quality, but when Vinod begins his talk, the audio quality is excellent)
Here are some of the excerpts:
Extrapolating the past is ridden with mistakes starting from forecasts:
On why forecasts go wrong (he talks about a number of forecasts that’s gone completely haywire:
Assumptions get embedded in our system. We don’t question our assumptions. Forecasting is about our embedded assumptions not explicitly stated.
On quantitative modeling:
Chasing the false precision, chasing the 3rd order effects
Input the measurable, ignore the immeasurable
Obscured embedded assumptions.
He concludes the section after giving several instances by saying that “The more rapid the change, the less likely are the assumptions to be right”.
On why inventing the future is absolutely critical:
He starts by explaining the Black Swan effect giving several examples and declares that much of what we assume to be true is retrospective predictability. Some great statements that he makes:
Improbable doesn’t equal unimportant and the only thing that’s important is the improbable.
No matter where you look, there’s room for innovation, however unlikely it looks
Bring me the ideas that has a 90% chance of failure!
If you take enough shots at the goal, failure doesn’t matter; it doesn’t exist.
“Imagine the possible”.
His final words in response to a question from the audience sums it all: “The talk is just to give a perspective; but most importantly is to convey an attitude”.
Well said, Sir !