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- Dr.SHIVA Ayyadurai, MIT PhD – Inventor of Email, Systems Scientist, engineer, educator – explains the history of email and how innovation can take place anytime, anyplace by anybody.
- Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai invented the world’s first Email system as a fourteen year old boy working as a research fellow at what is now known as Rutgers Medical School when he he was challenged to convert every feature of the physical paper-based inter-office memo system into an electronic equivalent software program, a task that many experts at the time thought was impossible.
- Dr. Shiva wrote fifty-thousand lines of code to create the world’s first Email system, designed to recreate every feature of the. interoffice mail system used by secretaries: including inboxes, outboxes, to, from, subject, carbon copy (CC), blind carbon copy (BCC), attachments, etc.
- The fact that Dr. Shiva invented email BEFORE he came to MIT, while he was still living and working in the working-class crime-ridden neighborhoods of Newark New Jersey, demonstrates the falsity of the establishment narrative that all innovation must only come out of elite ivory tower institutions like Harvard, MIT, or the Military-Industrial-Complex.
- When Dr. Shiva’s invention was later accepted into the Smithsonian, a great controversy was created by those elites who had already written the history of email, falsely crediting the Military-Industrial-Complex, specifically the contractor Raytheon, who had an employee named Ray Tomlinson who wrote a mere fifteen lines of code to attach a piece of text to the bottom of a file, which is not the SYSTEM of email that Dr. Shiva invented.
- The basic facts of Dr. Shiva’s invention were never disputed. The “controversy” created by the elites centered entirely around a re-definition of email to fit their own narrative. Essentially, they acknowledged Dr. Shiva’s creation, but claimed it didn’t “count,” and arbitrarily declared that Dr. Shiva cannot say he invented email, which he objectively did.
- The story of Dr. Shiva’s invention of email is especially important to future young innovators, because it demonstrates that true innovation can come from anywhere, even the most unexpected places. It is not up to the ivory tower elite institutions to restrict who is “allowed” to innovate.
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Vineath: Simi, I have noted your question. You have asked it 100 times, no need to ask you as much. I have noted your question, we will be asking Dr. Shiva. You’ve asked it about maybe 50-60 times now. Yes, Naya, we are all excited.
Somebody was asking about truckers’ protest. No, we will not be discussing truckers protest, we will not be discussing anything political or something. We are only discussing innovation. We want you to be innovators. Nothing else. You’re very clear.
Dr.SHIVA: We’re live. Okay, Vineath, we can go live.
Vineath: Great. So welcome, everybody. First, I would like to thank Dr. Shiva for this great opportunity to host him and to inspire students of India. And I’d like to thank Dr. Niharika for her exceptional support in putting this through, and all the people here. All the students here who took the time out, I know, it’s a busy, busy schedule, and especially with offline classes, they’re still listening to things. It’s awesome.
We’ve got about 500 to 600 students already and I’m very sure this number will keep on going up as we progress. So, I’m not stopping back.
History of Email
Before I start, I’ll just run through a presentation where in December, 15th I think, I showed the students the first time the picture of Dr. Shiva, but just go to the 14th slide one by one.
We were discussing Emails, and I said that telegraph was the first time through binary we were like sending messages, then electrical telegraphy, moving on to Morse code, ticker tapes, teleprinters, and this letter beam, then paging services started. This is all sequential by dates. So, pagers, and then Raymond Tomlinson, who just sent a message. A message.
Basically, you can read this word. This is the word that was sent, and with an “@”, but at MIT this was supposed to be invented, the first version of this thing where messages were being transferred between system through time sharing, which is something complex, I couldn’t understand, so Dr. Shiva will explain.
But then in Arpanet, Queen Elizabeth sends a message. But these are messages, not Emails. Let us understand from Dr. Shiva himself. He created a program called Email. Even I think Dr. Shiva, the word Email was given to you. Right?
Dr.SHIVA: Yes, so I can’t see you, are you just, all I see is some slides. Am I on here too, Vineath?
Vineath: Yes, you are on, but I just go here. So, this was a patent that Dr. Shiva took. And now I’ll introduce Dr. Shiva and then he can continue from here. I’m just showing these slides the students had already seen in December. So, I was just taking them through it again, where for the first time they’d heard of you, what kicked me into contacting you and getting you here.
So, now I’ll just tell a little about you. So, Dr. V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai, the inventor of Email and polymath, holds four degrees from MIT, which is Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is a world-renowned Systems Scientist, is a Fulbright Scholar, Lemelson MIT Award Finalist, First Outstanding Scientist and Technologist of Indian Origin, Westinghouse Science Talent honors award recipient and was nominated for the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation. In 1982, the U.S. government recognized Ayyadurai as the inventor of Email by awarding him the first copyright for Email. At a time when copyright was the only way to protect software inventions.
His interest in human health also began early, when as a child, he observed his grandmother, a village farmer, and healer practice Siddha, India’s oldest System of traditional medicine. This motivated his future study and research in Systems Biology at MIT, leading to his discovery of Systems Health®, a major breakthrough that provides an integrative framework linking Eastern and Western medicine.
His latest invention CytoSolve®, emerging from his doctoral research at MIT provides a revolutionary platform for modelling complex biological phenomenon to support the development of multi combination medicines, without animal testing. So, it’s a very, like, ethical approach to testing.
And I’ll end this on a note of what Einstein said, because this is very important to today’s seminar. Einstein said what is right is not always popular, and what is popular is not always right. So, that’s about Dr. Shiva, because this invention of Email may not be as popular as other name. But what is right is not always popular. So, Dr. Shiva over to you.
Dr.SHIVA: Right, Vineath. I don’t see our side- by-side, what I see is this graphic, so I’m not sure what’s being broadcast.
Vineath: I stopped the share, you can share.
Dr.SHIVA: Is it a side-by-side view of the panelists? Or how is it?
Vineath: Yes, it is right now. We like are seeing eight panelists here.
Dr.SHIVA: Oh, you are okay. Let me see. Let me just make sure.
Vineath: I’m in gallery view. So maybe because of that, I see that.
Dr.SHIVA: So, I just see you Vineath, and I just see people on the top. Is that supposed to be? I’m going to do gallery.
Vineath: Yes, yes.
Dr.SHIVA: Hi. So anyway, this is Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai. It’s a pleasure to be here. Let me just make a couple of preparatory remarks. First of all, the invention of Email by a 14-year-old boy that occurred in Newark, New Jersey. In fact, there’s no controversy even on this, Vineath.
The real question is, why was there a controversy created number one, when the facts are actually black and white. And when we say Email, let’s be very specific. We’re talking about the System. The emulation of the interoffice mail System: the inbox, the outbox, folders, which is what I created in 1978, which was never done before.
As a 14-year-old, dark-skinned Indian boy growing up in Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the, it’s one of the poorest cities in the United States. And it was there, I was given resources because as a 14-year-old kid, I got a job working as a full-time research fellow, which is also quite extraordinary. I was a very hard-working student, but I was – also I played baseball and soccer. So, I wasn’t just a nerd.
My parents were, as you know, India has a caste system. Some of you may know my parents came from that environment, so it was a one in a trillion opportunity that they came to the United States. I came to the United States when I was seven years old, and by the time I was 14, I’d finished calculus. By the ninth grade, my high school had no other courses to offer me.
I got an opportunity to go study as a 14-year-old kid in New York University, computer science, I was one of 40 students selected. So, I used to take the train at five, six in the morning to New York, study and come back. And then after that, I got a full-time job while I was going to high school. So that’s the background.
When I started working in this medical school, which I’ll talk more about, I was given the opportunity to do, initially, medical research because I was very interested in medical research, and I was creating pattern recognition algorithms for understanding why babies were dying in their sleep.
But it was in that college, a small medical college that I was given the opportunity to convert the entire interoffice mail System. Now, anyone over the age of 40 will remember how paper was processed in those old days. Let me give you an example here. By the way, if anyone wants to, people should go to our website vashiva.com.
But just to give you the background, I grew up not only in Bombay, as a young child, I came to the United States in 1970, literally left India on my seventh birthday. But I also grew up in this environment, small villages in India, where my grandparents were poor village farmers.
So, I grew up in two worlds, and I was very aware of this caste system. And my grandmother was a Siddha healer. She could observe someone’s face and determine what was going on in their body.
When I was 14, I started working full-time at a medical school when I came to the United States, and I was trying to understand why babies were dying in their sleep. As a full time, 14-year-old researcher, I was looking at sleep patterns to try to predict the onset of death.
But in that university, they had this thing called the interoffice mail System. This system was a system. Typically, the secretary in those days had a typewriter. She had folders, she had the inbox, the outbox, as you can see on the desk, attachments like paper clips, trashcan below her desk, and they would write these things called a memo.
This was a memo. It had a very particular structure: memorandum, to, from, CC literally meant carbon paper was used to take one piece of paper, carbon paper and other to make CC. So, if you had to make 10 cc’s, you’d be typing 10 times or 9 times. BCC came from there, date, subject. And this was a memo. At the bottom it had enclosed, which means you can attach an enclosure.
So, just to be clear on this, let’s say in this university, the doctor, by the way, this is a small university 1000s of offices. Every office had a secretary, always a woman, and the doctor in the morning would go and dictate to the secretary, write this memo, and she would write a memo in that structure.
Let’s say they decided to hire someone, let’s say they decided to hire John. So, the doctor would dictate a letter, and that secretary would type away. And maybe they would attach to that John’s resume, and they would put To: Blah, Blah, Blah, from Dr. X. And they may CC the HR department, other people, and they would circulate this memo.
This was the interoffice mail System. And just to make it clear, this is a system this is not this simple exchange of text messages. And this letter will be put in this interoffice mail thing and will be sent around these pneumatic tubes. They had these pneumatic tubes. Some of you may not know this, but this was the interoffice mail System. These tubes would be in these offices, and that’s how Email was processed.
Now, I was asked to convert this entire System. I’m not sure if your school teaches people what a System is. A System is a complex network of interconnected connected parts. So, we’re talking about the inbox, the outbox, the folders, the trash can, the CC, to, from, subject.
That entire System, registered mail, blind carbon copy, this entire System had never existed in electronic form, until I did it. And what I was asked to convert that entire System into the electronic form.
Now you have to understand in 1978, do you know who used computers? Old white men with lab coats, and you have to know complex computer programming to even use computers. Secretaries were using typewriters. If you can go back now 36-46 years, whatever the time was right there, and you can put yourself in women were typically a secretary, a nurse, a teacher, or housewife. The thought of a woman ever using a computer was unheard of.
So, what did I do? And many of the doctors when I was building this, said, “Why are you wanting to do this? It is very easy for me to simply dictate to my secretary, and she writes a memo.” They didn’t want Email because this meant they may have to do more work.
And the secretaries were not going to leave the typewriter and move to the keyboard. Unless that System had all those hundreds of features: inbox, outbox, folders, to, from, subject, CC, attachments, registered mail; there was a whole bunch of features, like 100 features.
So, as a 14-year-old kid, I wrote 50,000 lines of software code to implement every one of those features, and I named that System Email. The first person who ever coined that term. Why did I call it Email? Because the operating system only allowed six characters, sorry, five characters and the Fortran programming language allowed six and everything had to be in uppercase.
So, I wrote 50,000 lines of code, worked until two to three in the morning, went to high school, and played soccer, and played baseball. And this was done separately. In fact, I won one of the Westinghouse Science Awards for this. Let me show you this. This was not unknown. So, I named it Email. This is the official code.
And there’s me, me as a 14-year-old kid, my teacher, my math teacher, and there’s my mentor. And I was explaining to him what I had just created. And there’s a US copyright. So, let me tell you what happened here. I called this, named it Email, wrote the code. And this was in 1978.
You have to understand in 1978, this medical school was not in Silicon Valley. We were very open. We didn’t make people sign secrecy documents. Hewlett Packard came in and saw my code, IBM came in and saw it. To me, it was a big opportunity to create, I wasn’t into protecting my invention.
In September 1981, I came to MIT, I was accepted to MIT. In fact, I came to MIT with so many credits that I could have graduated MIT in two years. And I was elected student body president. And I was invited to the president of MIT’s home, Paul Gray, who was the science advisor to the president. And he had heard about my invention, because it was listed on the front page of the MIT newspaper, because they highlighted three kids out of 1041 kids, I was one of them.
Now, I was brought up to be a humble Indian. Indians are always brought up to be very humble, so, I said, that’s nice. So, when I went to the president’s house, he said, this was in 1981, and he said, “It’s too bad that the politicians do not understand software,” which means you could not patent software.
There was no concept of software patents. The politicians thought software was something you wrote. But in 1980, which I didn’t know, the Copyright Act of 1976 had been amended to become the Computer Software Act of 1980, which allowed you to take software inventions and use copyright law.
And remember, my parents weren’t rich, wealthy lawyers like Bill Gates’s lawyers, – parents, I wrote away for those forms is a 17-year-old kid, filled it out, submitted it. And August 13, 1982, a teenager gets recognized by the United States government as the inventor of Email, it’s black and white.
So, I wrote all the code, named it Email, and I have the copyright. And then I went on my merry way, doing four degrees at MIT, inventing many other things. In fact, I was featured on the front page of MIT for inventing many things.
But on November 11, 2011, my mother, who was dying of a horrible disease, she had three months to live, had saved all of those things from 1970 in a beautiful suitcase, the code, the software, everything. The editor of Time Magazine, and you should really put that up, he was the only journalist who went through all the materials to this date.
And he wrote an article called “The Man Who Invented Email.” If you haven’t seen it, let me show it to you. It was Doug Aamoth, wrote an article. Called “The Man Who Invented Email.” And he was the only journalist who actually went through the material, all of these things that my mother had saved all of those materials. And that was November 11th, 2011.
And then the two biggest museums in the world contacted me: the Smithsonian, and the Computer History Museum, and they said, Dr. Shiva, we want your materials. This was like a new skull had been found in Africa, resetting the origin of where human beings came from literally.
So, on February 16, 2012, I was honored by the Smithsonian, they did a big ceremony. And my materials were accepted into the number one the world’s leading museum in the world. The next day, an African woman reporter for The Washington Post wrote an article called “Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai Honored as the Inventor of Email,” and that’s when the proverbial shit hits the fan, excuse my language.
What do I mean by that? You see, up until 2012, there was a multi-billion-dollar company called Raytheon, a missile developer. They had found this – they had merged with a company called BB&N, and Raytheon’s missile sales were going down and they were entering into the cybersecurity market. And they were making $270 million.
They had rebranded their company with the @ symbol saying they were the inventors of Email. Now, if you go read this fellow who has a beard, and he looks like a nerd. He will admit he only wrote he did 15 minutes of work to take an old protocol called FTP and add the ability to attach text to the bottom of a file.
That’s like a caveman version of Reddit. That’s not Email. He didn’t call it Email. It’s the simple exchange of text messages. If you want to give credit then to the simple exchange of text messages go back to 1939, which was done with a radio teletype.
So, these people conflated what he did with the @ symbol; you use the @ symbol in Twitter, it’s not Email. Simple exchange of text messages. I created Email the System, inbox, outbox, folders, when you log in to Email, what do you see inbox, outbox, folders, to, from, subject, CC, that’s what I did.
He did simple exchange of text messages, which would make Twitter Email which would make WhatsApp Email which would make text messaging Email. It’s not Email. Email is Email, which I called it, I defined it.
So, after November, that February 16, 2012, when this became big news, you saw these racist, liberal, white historians, who had already written the history of Email that it was done by this military industrial company. And they attack me and called me a fraud, an asshole, a dick. Horrible names.
And I was teaching a course at MIT running my company for free, one of the number one courses and 1000s of Emails came in, because people were so horrified. How dare I claim my rightful place in history! And in fact, I never wanted the publicity. It was the Smithsonian wanted it, and then the news came out.
And the racism that I endured, but it wasn’t only racism, you see, it was a fact that Email was not created at MIT. You see, between 1981 to that point I was teaching at MIT. I had four degrees from MIT, I had won every major award at MIT, I was featured on the newspaper for many things. In fact, I was featured in Technology Review, for when I invented another technology called Echomail®.
But when I said that Email was done before I came to MIT, this causes a problem, because the brainwashing is: you go to MIT, and you go to Harvard, and then you’re intelligent. You see, the problem they had with me was I was intelligent before I came to MIT, and I was intelligent after I came to MIT.
I was an innovator before I came to MIT, and I was an innovator after. So, this, the truth about the invention of Email is really not about the invention of Email, because those facts are black and white. The truth is, why was there a controversy? And every Indian needs to understand this because Indians have been brainwashed to think all great innovations occur by white people.
The thought of – people see pictures of Mozart, a six-year-old boy who wrote great symphonies. Oh, that’s acceptable. But a 14-year-old Indian dark- skinned kid creating Email? That even bothers some Indians, because Indians are still imbued by a colonialist model to think only white people can create.
And this is important because this, I speak to this, because this is an important discussion to have. Where is a symbol that an Indian kid has, a child has of a dark-skinned Indian creating anything? It doesn’t exist, but a white kid has pictures of Thomas Alva Edison, Einstein, all these people.
So, this goes to multiple important issues. One, it was a dark-skinned Indian kid who created it. Two, it was a 14-year-old boy. Three, it was done before I came to MIT. Four, it was done in one of the poorest cities in the United States.
And this story is not my story. This is a story of the fact that innovation is in everyone’s DNA. I just happened to be a smart kid and I saw these secretaries who had a problem. They were typing away on paper all day, so I wanted to help them. I solved a real problem. That is innovation.
Innovation can occur anytime, anyplace by anybody. So, the key thing everyone needs to understand is that Ray Tomlinson did not invent Email. Complete bullshit. Complete fabrication. He did a simple exchange of text messages, but the fact that they took that 15-minute thing, and said he created – that is absolute fake news. It is the biggest lie in innovation history, period.
Vineath: Thanks, Dr. Shiva, I would now like you to, like these kids really are dying to know, what should they do to be innovative? What kind of skill set, mindset should they have?
Dr.SHIVA: I wrote a small book called “The Seven Secrets of Innovation.” And you can find it on Amazon. It’s a very short book I wrote, what you can learn from a 14-year-old boy.
Dr.SHIVA: Number one let’s start with what is innovation? Innovation is not working in a lab and discovering something that’s not innovation. Innovation is you, number one, you have to find a real problem, a problem.
Then you figure out what you think may be a solution. So, innovation is an iterative process. And then third, you’re finding a customer for that, which is a person who has a problem, in this case, it was the secretaries.
The fourth thing is you’re going to come up with something that may not be perfect, then you’re going to give it to your customers sooner than later. Even if it’s a worst initial prototype, it’s better off getting it to your customers. Why? Because it’s a co-development process. The customers are going to give you feedback.
In this case, the secretaries gave me feedback, oh, we have to have the inbox, we have to have registered mail, we have to have BCC. Because if they’re going to move from this to this, you have to have a customer, you have to then get feedback from that customer.
And recognize that even if they hate your product, and they think what you did was horrible, that’s not a bad thing. Because you are now 10 years ahead of someone who didn’t even create something, prototype it and get a customer.
And then you have to recognize that in this process, it’s very, very important to have a mentor, someone who’s been there before, who can support you, who can give you ideas, so you don’t make certain mistakes.
In the current model of invention, what people are brainwashed to think is you need big academia, Big Universities, you need a Big Corporation, and/or Big Military. The brainwashing that has occurred is people think innovation comes from the Military-Industrial-Academic complex.
So, MIT, IBM, military. It’s called the Golden Triangle. This is what the brainwashing that academics do. The truth is innovation comes from three ingredients. Number one, a family. You have to have someone who supports you. It can be single parent, double parents.
You have a loving family; you have a mentor, and you have access to some basic infrastructure. It’s that triangle that gave rise to the invention of Email. So, if you want to create something, you should find a mentor. Make sure you get access to some – today, more, most of you have access to more infrastructure than I had in 1978.
And it’s really important to have some support. And these are the core ingredients of real innovation. And this is why it can occur anytime, anyplace by anybody. The issue is, as the individual wants to innovate. So, we set up an organization. I select five to eight students every year.
If you go to InnovationCorps.org, I’ll show you that. And I give, I mentor people, I give people about a half a lakh. And we actually recognize people, but we’re looking for people have actually done this process where they, and it can be any type of thing. It doesn’t have to be Email, it doesn’t have to be you’re going to Mars, it can even be something extremely small.
Vineath: Is it very important for people to say, patenting whatever they make, because there could never be a perfect space for maybe even patenting. So is patenting very important to inventors.
Dr.SHIVA: Well, yes, so look, what’s happened is that in the United States that patent laws were created by the founders, like Franklin and Jefferson, because they themselves are inventors.
Today, in Washington today, 90% of the politicians can’t invent anything. They don’t know anything; they don’t even know the intellectual property laws. What should be done even to protect future innovators. But the patent system was originally created to support small inventors.
What happened over the last 30 years is there were people called patent trolls. People who started patenting nonsensical things, they didn’t even make anything. They just use the patent system to patent something to then sue somebody.
About 10 years ago, some of the big companies, Google and Facebook, and these large companies said, “oh, we should eliminate patents because they were being sued.” But what they want to do is, they wanted to big companies want to go to trade secrets.
They want to eliminate patents, so they get to protect everything, and even when they do patents, software patents have become even harder now with the Alice Ruling. So, the goal is to suppress small inventors. It’s really, in my view, it’s very, very important to patent. You have to find the right way to patent.
In 1978, I never patented anything, I – everyone came in. My stuff, when it went into the copyright office in 1982, all my code was accessible to everyone. So, you will see, if you look at the history of Email, 1982 was when I copyrighted Email; 1984 you see the first true Email System coming out, another one called Eudora. Mine was the first, but you see then other ones.
But between 1978 to 1993, Email was an interoffice application. This is something people need to remember. People use it in the business environment. Only in1993, when the World Wide Web came, did Email became a consumer application. Hotmail, right, all those other things, right, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. But Email existed long before that.
But yes, I think patents are important, but you have to be able to patent the right way. Software patents are much harder right now. So, if you’re writing software, you have to find the right attorney to do it. There are some very specific laws right now.
Vineath: Okay, good. Like, no one needs to understand the legality part also, to do that, and they’re like, every work is anyway a derivative. So how far should the derivative go before becoming unique? Like see, every small thing changed is an innovation, right? So, you can be patenting every small change, while the patent laws are set up?
Dr.SHIVA: The whole goal of the patent philosophy was that you have something, and you want to encourage someone to improve it. And in fact, the thing that you patent, it’s only owned for 20 years. And then after 20 years, the life of the patent goes away. The whole goal of patenting is to support advancements.
In the case of the invention of Email, it didn’t exist before at all. And the patent system – so patenting and copyright are two different things. If you wrote Romeo and Juliet, the play about two young lovers, you would get a copyright for that.
If someone else can actually create another book called Romeo and Juliet, in fact as long as they don’t copy every word, copyright only protects the literal copying. The problem is, when you invent something, like software, you want to be able to protect the ideas like the inbox, outbox, folders; how I interconnected that electronic format, you follow?
Copyright law didn’t allow that protection, so that’s why other people were able to create other versions of Email. This is the problem with politicians. In only 1994, the Court of Appeals in the United States said, wait a minute, software is actually a digital machine. It’s no different than creating an iPhone, but if you don’t see it physically in the world of bits and bytes.
So, only in 1994 was software able to be patented. And in fact, after that, I got three patents for other Email technologies that I created for automatically analyzing Email, which I’ve built a very large company out of called Echomail®. But the point is, prior to 1994, the court systems didn’t understand what software was.
Vineath: Again, you have mentioned this a little earlier also, but can an institution help in creating an innovative mindset? For example, DSU here would like to create an innovative mindset, although knowing that you have to have some kind of a mindset before we even get into innovation. What can an institution do?
Dr.SHIVA: Yes, so when I was in India – in 2009, when I went back to do my Fulbright, I was leaving India and I was recruited by the Indian government to run the largest innovation center there under CSIR.
Organizations like CSIR and others have wanted, created, Silicon Valley Innovation Hub. So, there’s one model which says, “okay, we’re going to plow billions of dollars, and in one area, we’re going to create these innovation centers.”
And what you really find is they’re not really innovating anything. I’m sorry, Twitter is not an innovation. Facebook is really not anything significant. It’s existed. It’s not any breakthrough innovations.
Dr.SHIVA: There’s a well, it’s not an – it’s not anything. So, there’s a book that Peter Thiel wrote called “Zero to One.” Email was a true innovation. It never existed before. CytoSolve® was a true innovation. The light bulb was a true innovation or flight.
But we don’t see any great innovations in the last 70 years. We really don’t. Why? Because like you do genetically engineered food, where people think you’re going to engineer the right food, people are trying to engineer innovation, when innovation is actually much more of a wild seed.
Innovation by its nature means it’s rebellious, its revolutionary, it goes against the popular mindset. So, it’s somewhat of an oxymoron to think you’re going to institutionalize innovation when innovation by its nature is anti-institution. You follow what I’m saying?
Dr.SHIVA: This is why the Invention of Email took place in a small university. It didn’t occur to big university. In fact, when my issue occurred, I heard about a story of a Michigan mechanic. You know the windshield wipers where they can automatically send the water? Well that was stolen by two MIT professors, by a mechanic in Michigan.
An MIT professor, who was about to get his tenureship at MIT in the history of science researched this, and he wrote an article saying that MIT didn’t invent Control Systems, it was a Michigan mechanic. When he wrote that article, MIT fired him, because it was going against a big narrative.
But you will see repeatedly. By the way a 14-year-old boy invented TV. Look it up, Philo Farnsworth. He invented it, very similar conditions to mine. In a small farm, he saw how the animals were doing this. He named it – he called the television.
RCA went to his home, stole it and they started manufacturing it, violating the U.S. patent laws. It took him 19 years to finally win it. He won it but with only one year of patent life left. He died an alcoholic. Sixty years later, there’s a statue of him now “The Boy Who Invented TV.”
So, you have to understand this concept of plowing money into these centers of innovation, in my view is just nonsense. Because innovation is more of a weed. It’s, you throw a bunch of seeds out into the forest and innovation because it’s everywhere.
So, I have a big problem with these people saying they’re going to institutionalize innovation. You can be a catalyst for it, like the mentor was for me or my parents, or my grandparents. I saw how hard they worked; I saw how these secretaries worked. I learned skills, and out of that innovation came, you see.
I think what they are innovating are inventions that may not have any real significant human value. How many innovations are we really missing because we don’t – imagine instead of billions of dollars going into Silicon Valley, a few $1,000 went everywhere. You would probably have all sorts.
I’m not talking about big inventions. I’m talking about all sorts of problems being solved in a much wide way. I don’t believe you can institutionalize innovation; I think it’s a scam.
Vineath: We can kind of try to create an ecosystem which nurtures people and guides them when required. That kind of thing.
Dr.SHIVA: That ecosystem has always existed independent in the Indian environment, for example, or in or even the U.S. when people have to solve real problems, when they were resilient. When a government wasn’t there helping all of this you say or trying to confuse people.
I think the reality is government can support, enhance, be a catalyst, but government plowing and money to these large centers of innovation they’re not really doing much except, some people make a lot of money, and they actually suppress innovation. They get all their money into one institution like, let’s say, Kendall Square, Silicon Valley, something occurs somewhere else, they either plagiarize it and steal it, or they suppress that model.
So, I think the real issue is supporting this in small ways. Parents need to be trained, that’s why I wrote this book called “The Seven Secrets of Innovation” how you can help your child. Mentors. Infrastructure. If you make infrastructure more accessible today that can help innovation. I was given access to this lab in Newark, New Jersey.
One of the things I think can help innovation is if you have more dispersed access to infrastructure, like obviously, the internet has small villages and small cities. If you can set up areas where there’s some infrastructure, even tools, people can make things, build things.
Access to certain very basic tools, hardware tools, circuit tools, now you’re seeding it. You’re basically putting fertilizer a bunch of places, and if the right seed hits that you can grow. So that’s the model that I think, from my own experience, that’s where I think real innovation comes from.
Yes, I think what is organic innovation, like organic food, and the other genetic modified innovation?
Vineath: Exactly. In fact, I remember something from a book called “Outliers,” where they said, like Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates had a little kind of unfair access to, like tools that helped them create. So, if we give kids a lot of access to things, I think the first thing is gets done there. Give unlimited access, right?
Dr.SHIVA: First of all, Bill, Bill Gates didn’t invent DOS, he asked someone else, he bought it from someone else. What he had was he has access to his mother and father.
His mother was a part of the United Way, which had access to IBM, and IBM was looking for an operating system for their old PCs. He knew someone else who had it. He went and bought a pinboard. So, what I’m saying he was more of a trader.
Jobs did some innovation, but the point is, both of them had access to infrastructure. Gates had access to his parents who were lawyers. He had access to contacts, networking. But infrastructure is key. Key. That’s why $1 in infrastructure investment returns $6 back to any country $1 and giving people away stuff, you will lose 60 cents.
Today, you have people simply giving away people’s stuff. And what they’re in to buy votes, for example, versus doing the hard thing, which is spending in long term infrastructure. So, infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure is how you actually drive innovation.
Vineath: In fact, a one beautiful story turned up in Kasparov, Garry Kasparov, maybe everybody knows, has been one of the greatest chess players. So, he said, once he was playing in Europe, and he was staying in somebody’s house, and he saw a computer.
Then he asked, he saw how the kid in the house was getting smart. So, he requested the organizers of the tournament that do not give me any cash. Just send an equivalent number of computers to Russia, we need it for our kids. It’s a beautiful story about a leadership being shown by a winner, by a champion. A kid’s leader. That’s it.
Dr.SHIVA: Yes, so it’s infrastructure. And it doesn’t have to be large. The most important other thing is to expose people to problems, real problems, not fake problems. People need to really look at real problems and India has many, many opportunities for innovation.
You see the average Indian, if he’s driving along and he has a problem with his car, he doesn’t call Triple A, he figures out how to fix it. He’ll put some stick here and do this and you’ll get the car going. That’s innovation. It’s being resourceful, and the real sign of genius is resourcefulness.
What do you do with minimal stuff that you have? What can you do with little? That’s where innovation comes from. There are people who get lots and lots of money, tremendous amounts of infrastructure, and they innovate very little.
But people who have very little and are just given a little bit it’s like a starving person. You give them food, just a little bit and then they survive massively, or they figure out how to take advantage of that. So, it’s not that we want people to be starving, but the goal is, it is the right infrastructure at the right time for the right set of people. That’s what’s needed.
Vineath: Yes, well said. Basically, it is the most important thing, like you said is exposure to problems or I would maybe rephrase it, like ability to even see problems is could be a key to innovation.
Dr.SHIVA: Vineath, do the students have any questions?
Vineath: Yes. I have a lot of them written with me. Actually saying out of those, so a lot of them were answered by you. Like Ratan Kumar, Ritu Gupta, Abhishek. Abhishek Rocha had a question that’s how did you create it, on paper or direct coding? Although I know it, but I think you can…
Dr.SHIVA: Well, you did both. In those days, we, look, you have to do both. Initially you wrote it on paper, but it was coded in Fortran Four, a programming language, that was for computing. I had to do all of this in 8k of memory. I literally wrote my own memory management systems.
Everything was done from scratch. So, an 8k of memory, 50,000 code, so you have the user interface, and I would swap in code. So, this was 50,000 lines of code written in Fortran, which was not intended for text processing. It was really interested in for numerical processing.
And so, it was very, very limited resources I had, but within that, we wrote the entire System. It wasn’t just 15 lines of code, simply the exchange of text messages which someone else had already done. This was the entire System. It is so ludicrous that every Indian in India doesn’t appreciate this, and fight for it.
The other thing you learn is you have to fight for your – this is a big lesson I learned – you have to fight, if you create something, you have to fight for your credit. You can’t let other people steal it. The lucky thing was I did copyright it. The thing I didn’t do, which I should have done was to promote myself for the things I actually did.
So, these other people have big PR machines, so they promote themselves.
Vineath: Be backed by the company’s corporation.
Dr.SHIVA: Yes. So, in the case of Raytheon, Raytheon, conflated between inflated what they did, they didn’t create Email, this guy didn’t create Email. He himself admits I wrote 15 lines of code. That’s not Email. They branded the @ symbol.
Vineath: Okay, that’s your question. And right now, I’m also like mentoring certain students selected through a very rigorous process, who are going to represent India and WorldSkills. And they have some questions.
These are kids who really love innovation, who really love designing things. And my mission has been to expose them to real problems. So, one of them, Copel has asked that being an entrepreneur yourself, what advice do you have for young Indian entrepreneurs, because some of them want to be entrepreneurs also?
Dr.SHIVA: Well, whether it’s an Indian entrepreneur or to any entrepreneur, any child on the planet, the questions, the answer is actually the same. Number one, find a mentor. Number two, find a real problem that you want to actually solve. And number three, throw yourself into it.
Because being an entrepreneur is fundamentally being a revolutionary, because you’re literally jumping into something. It’s like you’re jumping into a den of tigers, and then you have to create the tools to defend yourself against those tigers. You have to just throw yourself into these things.
And in my own journey, when I look back at all the things I’ve done, if I actually knew that I would have had to do that and make all those mistakes, you would never be an entrepreneur. It’s almost good to not know a lot of stuff. Because if you know too much, and you don’t go through the experience, you will second guess yourself and entrepreneurs go into the darkness. To find the light.
And entrepreneur is actually a word that originates from the Upanishads, it’s not a French word. It’s a word that originates from the Ananta Prerana. It comes up.
Dr.SHIVA: So, you should understand it’s a word that actually comes from the Indian Upanishads. It doesn’t, it’s not a thing. French term, it’s a very different term. So, it’s someone who determines their own destiny. That’s what it really means. So that’s what entrepreneurs do. We’re not waiting for someone else, we’re not waiting for some government policy, we’re not waiting for someone, you go and create things. And it’s a very, very important, and to me it’s a very deeply spiritual activity because you’re recognizing your own divinity.
From an Indian standpoint, the entire basis of the Indian spirituality. And I don’t mean Hindus, I mean, Indus Valley people, was the fact that there was a human being, and then here’s your Creator. And the idea was for you to interconnect with your Creator, the individual connecting with their Creator. And it was a very deeply personal relationship. And the idea was, everything should be removed to have that inner connection. And that is what an entrepreneur is, you are pursuing your own destiny. And to me, being an entrepreneur is probably one of the highest forms of exercising yourself as a human being. Because you have to show courage, you have to be willing to withstand people saying you can’t do it.
When I was a 14-year-old kid, these doctors said, Why are you doing Email? No one’s going to use it. Email will never work. In fact, that’s been going on even until now. People said, “Emails, dead Emails dead, Emails dead, Email, keep surviving. So, the experts, 99% of the experts are not experts, they don’t even know what they’re talking about. Because many of them have never done anything.
The only people people should trust are working people. Trust your mother, and father, if they’re doing something, go trust the electrician, go trust a plumber, go trust people who actually solve problems every day. Do not trust anyone who doesn’t solve a problem. Because if people solve problems, you will learn a lot from them. Engineers solve problems, scientists sometimes make up problems. But engineers are always solving problems. An electrician is solving problems.
So you need to be in the right environment. And you need to respect everyday people. You have to respect secretaries, you have to respect the custodial worker, you should respect that people actually do stuff with their hands, because they’re actually solving stuff every day.
Vineath: Right. And in fact, a lot of invention can even come by seeing, like what you mentioned, I don’t know whether you know the word like India, in India, we say Jugaad. So if your plumber is using a Takara trick to handle something, so there is an invention waiting there? I guess.
Vineath: That can be converted into an invention if you put your mind to it. And you can always you also end up helping that plumber solve it. And yeah, so Aishwarya Gujrati had question. If you invented something new, how to find right people, and work on things that always keeps you ahead of the problem. I don’t know if this is something that can be addressed. But yes, he has this.
Dr.SHIVA: Well, I think that’s where you need to build community and you need to make friends and you need to interconnect with other people. I think that’s where you can help catalyze.
There’s a famous thing saying, “what is luck?” Luck is really not luck; you can actually create luck. If you actually work hard, and you keep putting yourself in the right situations, you’ll bump into the right things. If you simply stay alone somewhere and you don’t interact with other people, you’re never going to create luck.
One of the things I wanted to share with you I think, one of the new innovations we’ve created is the interconnection between Truth Freedom Health®. See here, freedom: where you allow people to talk, debate, have open access, is the seed that gives innovation. Because without openness, and if you have censorship control, you can’t – the reason the United States did so well is because of the Bill of Rights, First Amendment, Second Amendment, all those things. I would argue that freedom is one of the most essential things to innovation, but you need infrastructure that supports freedom and innovation.
So, for me, you know, MIT offered that but one of the things that goes on is if you so Echomail® was one of the other inventions I did long after Email. And we built this company, it was an infrastructure, where I created a technology to automatically analyze Email for the White House when I was in 1993. And then that became another invention that companies would send us their Email, we would figure out the issues in that Email and automatically figure out responses.
Another thing CytoSolve® was what we do today. CytoSolve® is another infrastructure innovation, where we can literally model mathematically diseases on the computer. And we are re-dis…we’re discovering new products without killing animals. This is another innovation we did. It’s beyond organic, we’ve created a Systems way to identify what foods are truly healthy foods. But I can talk more to this.
But you see, it’s also important to put yourself in a diversity of knowledge basis. So here I studied biological engineering, which is a Western world of looking at the medicine. But this is the Eastern way of looking at the medicine. We people are studying this now the Western way, but that the Eastern way, but I was very interested in combining both of these – Indian medicine 40,000 years old and modern medicine.
And this was an article that came out in the front page of MIT when I won my Fulbright scholarship to go back to India, to study how these things were connected. And what I discovered out of that was the Indian System of medicine, which calls it Vata, Pitta. Kapha There’s a whole System is actually related to general Systems theory.
And then I wrote a paper where I literally was the first person to bridge Eastern and Western medicine. You can get this online, there’s a paper, and that is related to a new technology called Your Body Your System®. Alright, and that is related to where we’re basically, today, people want to learn Ayurveda and Siddha and they have to go to India. This tool within 30 minutes, you can do the same thing. My point is, there are ways and that we created a whole other school called Systems Health®.
So, all of this came from my desire to solve this problem. What is Indian medicine? What is Western medicine? And what is the linkages? And so, we’ve created a whole way that we’re teaching people how to read look at medicine. And then more recently, we’ve created a whole new innovation System where if you look at freedom, truth, and health, these are all integrated. And this has led to a whole movement called Truth Freedom Health®.
You see, so as an innovator, you can innovate in the world of medicine, you can innovate in the world of technology, innovation is always through you. It’s not like you do…so that’s why the invention of Email is interesting, it’s not like I needed that publicity, because I was inventing many things. So, if you’re solving a problem, you’re always going to solve problems, it’s in your DNA. So, if you want to develop that ability, you have to have a deeply spiritual sense. In some sense, you realize that your life is very valuable, you’re put on this earth in many ways to solve problems. So, you have to make a decision. Do you want to solve problems, or do you want to create problems?
Vineath: Of course, you can be only on one side. So
Dr.SHIVA: Yeah, so if you want to – but I’m saying that you come to a fork in the road, should where either you are going to be an innovator, or you’re going to be a problem creator. And some people do it explicitly. And some people do it implicitly.
Vineath: And in fact, most people stay on that side of creating problems, because they do not shift to – because you can be anybody. So, you either are part of the problem, or the solutions the best is, at least for those kids who shift over to becoming problem solvers. Instead of creating unnecessary interventions, it is good. They start taking charge of things.
Dr.SHIVA: Yes, and the reason I wanted to share this with you is that if you really want to look at where real innovation comes from, it comes from this triangle. You need to be healthy; you need to be physically healthy. You need to have a healthy infrastructure. You need to have economic health.
You need to have environments that are free. People can debate, discuss, people don’t get thrown off Facebook and Google for saying something wrong. You can pursue truth; you can pursue the scientific method. And if you look at what’s going on globally right now, three major media companies are controlling freedom right now. This is not a good thing.
So, you stop discourse of knowledge. And because this has occurred, most of the Big Academic institutions, you don’t really have very smart people in most of these academic institutions. Because the really smart people are forced to leave because they could be revolutionary radicals.
I mean, Einstein would have never made it in the modern academic institutions at all. And if you don’t have proper infrastructure, health, physical health, you don’t have the strength to fight for freedom or you don’t have the strength to pursue truth.
So, I want people to really look at this diagram. And if you look at this diagram, it goes to the essence of the Indian Systems of medicine, which say, let me go here, that you need these forces of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, movement, transport, conversion, and infrastructure/storage.
So, this is very, very fundamental. If people want to go to TruthFreedomHealth.com we’ve created a course, where we teach people this infrastructure knowledge, and it really begins with this essence of Truth Freedom Health®.
Vineath: We have a message from our Vice Chancellor of Delhi School University. I’ll read it to you, although you can read it, but for the students also. “Thank you so much, Dr. Shiva for sharing. Power to you to do more. Thanks for coming to DSU. Please be in touch when you’re next in Delhi.”
Dr.SHIVA: Yes, I was in Delhi for about two years, when I was the Additional Secretary, I don’t know if you know, in the Indian government. That was back in 2010-11.
Vineath: So, when is next time around, we can see you and try to meet you in India?
Dr.SHIVA: Well, you got to make an invitation. I haven’t been to India…
Vineath: We’ll…we’ll do that. Definitely.
Dr.SHIVA: It was a pleasure. I hope this was helpful. But just, so the key takeaway is innovation anytime, anyplace, by anybody. That’s what you have to remember.
Vineath: Sure, and with that note, thank you so much for the time you’re taken out. I know it’s pretty early in the morning there, but for the students, we wanted it. Because I know, late at night the student presence won’t be great.
Dr.SHIVA: I want to also thank John, I want to thank you Vineath for organizing this, the other panelists. I want to thank Manju who helped set this up, and John Medlar. John got up at five in the morning, here to get this organized. I think he’s got about three hours sleep because we were awake until nearly 1am tomorrow working on an earlier project. But we appreciate the opportunity.
But the key thing is everyone who has heard this should recognize that everyone should know about the true origins of the invention of Email. Because it’s not just about the facts about the invention of Email, but it goes to the heart of where does real innovation come from.
And sharing the truth about the invention of Email, is being an innovator. It’s telling the truth, which is what innovators do. So, I want everyone to do that. It’s not just because of the fact that I invented Email – I invented many other things.
But it goes to the heart of the issue of where does innovation really come from. It’s really, really, really important to share the facts of the invention of Email globally, and everyone should boldly share it. As part of the innovative environment, you’ve got to overcome the lies that are out there.
And that’s what innovators do. Entrepreneurs do that. You’re always challenging the existing institutional nonsense in many ways. So, the invention of Email, sharing that, is actually a practice in innovation.
Vineath: Of course. And we also keep on trying to reinvent education in the best possible way. Technically, what happens is whatever you invent, sometimes it happens that whatever you’re going to change, you’re not even sure whether it is in the bounds of legality at that moment. Sometimes rules are framed in a manner that it even sometimes looks illegal to do that. Suppose you want to offer you want to have some degree programs, which are not bound by durations. It looks illegal right now.
Dr.SHIVA: Right. Well, one of the interesting things is – yes, you’re pushing the envelope. In 1978, I had a teacher who had to fight with the administration to allow me to work – fourteen-year-old kid, I’m supposed to be in school. You’re not supposed to go and work in a work environment. So, this teacher actually had to fight and fight and fight. So, you cannot be an innovator without being a fighter. You can’t.
Vineath: And, like you mentioned, more so the mentor also does a lot of the fight. Sometimes he’s not seen upfront, but does a lot of fighting.
Dr.SHIVA: Yes, I think you nailed it. That’s why the mentors are important. In my case, there was that teacher, this woman who just recently passed away, and Dr. Michelson. Without them, they were the ones who fought so I could travel 30 miles in the middle of school, work, and then go back. That was unbelievable.
Today, parents are afraid to send their kids out the door by themselves. My parents allowed me to travel from New Jersey all the way to New York, in a train in one of the most criminal, one of the most crime- infested areas at that time in New York, where people would sell drugs on the streets. I was a 14-year-old kid walking back and forth. No parent would allow that now, in retrospect.
Vineath: A lot of people are involved in one thing that happens, they have their roles, which is why we have to appreciate our parents and teachers a lot. They make things happen for us.
Let us close today’s session. It was a pleasure having you, Dr. Deonikar, on the panel. And thank you very much for inspiring us.
Dr.SHIVA: You’re welcome. Be well. Thank you.
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