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Pat Gelsinger, the Intel veteran who is CEO of cloud software giant VMWare, has an exciting view of the future of tech.
It revolves around what he calls the “four superpowers of tech today.” He’s not referring to four big companies. (Most refer to five that matter—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google—plus three in China—Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent; they typically don’t include VMWare in that group.) Instead, Gelsinger is referring to four massive computing trends: mobile, cloud, Internet of things, and artificial intelligence.
Here’s how they all stitch together, in Gelsinger’s view. Mobile phones now connect half the world, an impossibly unexpected accomplishment for computing, translating into “unlimited reach.” Cloud computing offers “unlimited scale,” or computing capability beyond the wildest dreams of the industry’s pioneers. The connecting power of sensors everywhere “bridges the digital to physical,” says Gelsinger, in a recent interview. And AI, he says, “brings intelligence to everything.”
What’s the upshot of all this? It’s a really good time to be in the computer business. “Tech is breaking out of tech,” he says. “Any tech company is in for a good run, and a well-positioned tech company is in for a very good run.” (VMWare (VMW), part of the Dell group of companies, is worth more than $50 billion.)
Despite his ebullience, Gelsinger thinks all this success and power puts a burden on the technology industry. “It’s our job to be harnessing this technology as a force for good,” he says.
As it happens, technology as a force for good has been on Fortune’s mind of late. For years we ran a “Startup Idol” competition at Brainstorm Tech in Aspen, Colo. This year we’re doing something different called The Pitch. It’s a contest designed to put a spotlight on the private sector’s freshest and smartest solutions to solving the world’s biggest social problems.
Instead of just startups, we’ll open the competition to any company, small or big, tech or non-tech, that is using technology to make the world a better place as part of their normal business operations. This is consistent with Fortune’s annual Change the World list, which isn’t about philanthropy but rather nuts-and-bolts business that does good by doing well.
The Pitch will feature five companies making 5-minute presentations in Aspen to a panel of judges, with the audience choosing a winner. The nomination period opens now, so please send ideas to email@example.com, and we’ll respond with additional details.
Thanks to all who gently reminded me Thursday that Apple (AAPL) is worth more than $800 billion, compared with my understatement of $800 million.
Also, you’ll see a new byline here next week—for one week only. Fortune President Alan Murray, author of the popular CEO Daily, will be guest writing the top of Data Sheet. I in turn will take his place over at CEO Daily. Please check me out there; and be nice to Alan here.
Have a good weekend.