Microsoft Research


Geek heretic: Technology cannot end poverty | 

Kentaro Toyama

Kentaro Toyama is clearly a heretic. A geek heretic.

And, based on his career path, I would guess brilliant.

A computer scientist currently at the University of California, Berkeley, Toyama co-founded Microsoft Research India in 2005 and remained there as assistant managing director until 2009.

If you’re not familiar with what they do at Microsoft Research, think artificial intelligence, computer vision, terabyte juggling, high-octane mathematics and the craziest things you can try to do with bits, bytes or any kind of information technology.

While in India, Toyama launched Microsoft Research’s Technology for Emerging Markets group. (The website shows a toddler who appears to be sending a text message by cell phone.)

So you’d expect Toyama to be another one of those folks claiming that if we can just “bridge the digital divide” in poor countries, many chronic problems will be more easily solved. You’d expect him to be happy to see headlines like this New York Times article Can The Cellphone End Poverty?

Nope. ”That’s the reason I quit Microsoft,” said Toyama.

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