In the late 1980’s, I had a work-study job as a computer operator in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University (B.S.E.E. 1987, M.A. 1989). That meant keeping the systems operating and loading backup tapes. Lots of backup tapes. One of the projects I supported was a speech recognition effort led by a Carnegie Mellon PhD graduate and assistant professor named Kai-Fu Lee.
Shortly thereafter, I took a staff position there in the research documents group, which was tasked with telling the U.S. Government (primarily DARPA) what we accomplished by spending their money. Again, Dr. Kai-Fu Lee’s project was among those that I supported.
Twenty years later, I find myself in Beijing at the WWW2008 conference, in the audience at the opening keynote, delivered by Dr. Kai-Fu Lee (now Vice President of Engineering at Google). I think it says something about my career that I’m now half-way around the world, attending a keynote by Dr. Lee. Exactly what it says, I’m not sure.