【明報專訊】STEVE JOBS died at 56, in his prime, one may say. He exerted enormous influence on the world because the computer products he had created shaped new ways of life. Some mention him and Thomas Edison, the inventor, in the same breath. Whether the products Jobs had created will endure for ever only time will tell. However, he was an immortal legend in the field of creative technology.
In 2005, Jobs gave a speech at Stanford University. He told graduates not to be trapped by dogma. He said, "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." Jobs not only talked about following one's heart. He followed his own all his life.
Jobs of course owed his successes to his brilliant talent and perseverance. Most information technology giants are American companies - Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Yahoo. Why is this the case? This cannot be described as fortuitous. Needless to say, one reason is that their founders are all men of vision and insight who can seize opportunities, but this has everything to do with things in the US, where creations are cherished and protected under its systems.
According to a report the National Science Board has recently released, the US' spending on research and development (R&D) has consistently been equivalent to 2.7% of its GDP since the 1980s. The US being an enormous economy, its R&D spending is quite considerable. The US government sets great store by R&D, and all in the public and private sectors are keen on R&D. This is the primary reason why the US is several notches above the rest of the world in technology and it always stays at the forefront of the creative technology field.
Steve Jobs (Apple) held no university degree, nor has Bill Gates (Microsoft) or Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) earned any. However, they have all achieved much in computer science or information technology. This has much to do with the soil that exists in the US, where all inventions are strictly protected. People are therefore encouraged to do research and develop new things. The situation in China is diametrically different. On the mainland, if a new product is unveiled, the market is soon glutted with fakes of it produced in ill-appointed workshops. The Chinese government should ensure that intellectual property is adequately protected on the mainland. China will have fewer disputes with other countries if it does so. China's R&D or creative technology will not take off unless it does so.
The successes people like Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg have achieved provide young people with a revealing insight - that there are no hard and fast rules in information technology or any other creative field. Everybody knows one may bring about infinite possibilities with a computer. With a computer and one's creativity, one may open up infinite business opportunities and do what may help better human lives.