Bill Joy

Bill Joy bigraphy, stories - American computer scientist

Bill Joy : biography

08 November 1954 –

William Nelson Joy (born November 8, 1954) is an American computer scientist. Joy co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982 along with Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy and Andreas von Bechtolsheim, and served as chief scientist at the company until 2003. He played an integral role in the early development of BSD UNIX while a graduate student at Berkeley, and he is the original author of the vi text editor. He also wrote the 2000 essay "Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us", in which he expressed deep concerns over the development of modern technologies.

Post-Sun activities

In 1999 Joy co-founded a venture capital firm, HighBAR Ventures, with two Sun colleagues, Andreas von Bechtolsheim and Roy Thiele-Sardiña. In January 2005 he was named a partner in venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, where he has made investments in green energy industries. He has once said, "My method is to look at something that seems like a good idea and assume it’s true"., Clay Shirky, Networks, Economics, and Culture mailing list, July 1, 2003, from a speech at ETech, April 2003

In 2011 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum for his work on the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) Unix system and the co-founding of Sun Microsystems., Computer History Museum, retrieved 17 June 2013

Technology concerns

In 2000 Joy gained notoriety with the publication of his article in Wired Magazine, "Why the future doesn’t need us", in which he declared, in what some have described as a "neo-Luddite" position, that he was convinced that growing advances in genetic engineering and nanotechnology would bring risks to humanity. He argued that intelligent robots would replace humanity, at the very least in intellectual and social dominance, in the relatively near future. He advocates a position of relinquishment of GNR (genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics) technologies, rather than going into an arms race between negative uses of the technology and defense against those negative uses (good nano-machines patrolling and defending against Grey Goo "bad" nano-machines). Many of his arguments have been addressed by Ray Kurzweil, Ray Kurzweil, Essays, November 20, 2001, originally presented on November 19, 2001 at Washington National Cathedral. and by others., Tihamer Toth-Fejel, May 20, 2000., Catherine Borden, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, June 20, 2004.

A bar-room discussion of these technologies with inventor and technological-singularity thinker Ray Kurzweil started to set his thinking along this path. He states in his essay that during the conversation, he became surprised that other serious scientists were considering such possibilities likely, and even more astounded at what he felt was a lack of considerations of the contingencies. After bringing the subject up with a few more acquaintances, he states that he was further alarmed by what he felt was the fact that although many people considered these futures possible or probable, that very few of them shared as serious a concern for the dangers as he seemed to. This concern led to his in-depth examination of the issue and the positions of others in the scientific community on it, and eventually, to his current activities regarding it.

Despite this he is a venture capitalist, investing in GNR technology companies., Steven Levy, Wired Magazine, April 16, 2013 He has also raised a specialty venture fund to address the dangers of pandemic diseases, such as H5N1 avian influenza and biological weapons.

Sun Microsystems

In 1982, after the firm had been going for six months, Joy was brought in with full co-founder status at Sun Microsystems. At Sun, Joy was an inspiration for the development of NFS, the SPARC microprocessors, the Java programming language, Jini / JavaSpaces and JXTA.

In 1986, Joy was awarded a Grace Murray Hopper Award by the ACM for his work on the Berkeley UNIX Operating System.

On September 9, 2003 Sun announced that Bill Joy was leaving the company and that he "is taking time to consider his next move and has no definite plans".