Intel's Barrett Has Harsh Words For US On Education, Innovation At IDF

The United States is coming up short in educating future innovators and incentivizing technology RandD, according to Craig Barrett. The Intel chairman, delivering Tuesday's opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, stressed the country's need for a better approach to scientific and economic development in an address that was unusually political and U.S.-centric for the chip giant's semi-annual, internationally flavored conference.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini did not open IDF due to scheduling conflicts, according to an Intel spokesperson, who added that the August date of this year's conference was the main conflict. Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel held its fall IDF in September the past two years.

"Every country in the world knows" that intelligent people, a good educational system and robust investment in RandD is the "great formula to ensure economic success," Barrett said Tuesday morning.

"Every country except one. This one," he said.

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Barrett went so far as to toss a real political football into his bromide against the current administration's approach to education and innovation. Speaking about technology's potential to provide social benefits like reducing health care costs, he hinted that such savings could be negated by "how much we're spending in Iraq."

The Intel chairman and former CEO did steer his broadly themed keynote towards a more global and forward-looking perspective following the political digs and a de rigeur homage to Moore's Law.

After showcasing a series of young innovators from around the world, Barrett announced that four $100,000 awards would be given at next year's spring IDF to the winners of a competition to develop the most innovative idea in health care, education, economic development and the environment.

While Otellini's keynotes in recent years have generally been built around new Intel product announcements, Barrett made it clear early on that his would be a more general address. IDF attendees left the opening keynote anticipating that the big product news would come during Intel SVP Pat Gelsinger's afternoon keynote.