Google Doodle on Monday celebrated the life of Michael Dertouzos, who foresaw how the internet would change the world.
Dertouzos was born in Athens, Greece on Nov. 5, 1936 and went on to earn a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined MIT’s faculty and became director of its Laboratory for Computer Science in 1974.
He spearheaded many of the labs’ innovations and expansions, and made it the US base of the the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) — the main international standards organization overseeing the World Wide Web’s evolution. He got, the internet’s creator, to run it.
Dertouzos was exploring the concept of “The Information Marketplace” by the early 1980s and laid it out in his 1997 book What Will Be: How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives.
“If we strip the hype away,” he wrote. “A simple, crisp and inevitable picture emerges — of an Information Marketplace where people and their computers will buy, sell and freely exchange information and information work.”
He always focused using on technology for humanity’s betterment, not for its own sake, a notion reflect by the title of his last book, 2001’s The Unfinished Revolution: Human-Centered Computers and What They Can Do For Us.
“We made a big mistake 300 years ago when we separated technology and humanism,” Dertouzos said in an interview in Scientific American. “It’s time to put the two back together.”
He also foresaw how accessible it would become.
“I think the movement that we’re seeing will be fully integrated into our lives; it will be pretty much like air, water, breathing,” he said at the World Economic Forum in 1997. “It will not be a cyberspace out there that we go visit, it’ll be in everything we do.”
He died Aug. 27, 2001 at Massachusetts General Hospital, at the age of 64.
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