Chess and Democracy

I had the privilege of being invited to a small private dinner held in honour of Garry Kasparov and his wife Dasha.  Garry is a Russian pro-democracy leader, author, global human-rights activist and former world chess champion. He became the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985 at the age of 22 and retired from professional chess in 2005 after 20 years as the world’s top-ranked player. He quickly became an important voice in the Russian pro-democracy movement against the repressive regime of Vladimir Putin. Kasparov’s keynote lectures and seminars on strategic thinking, achieving peak performance, and tech innovation have been acclaimed in dozens of countries. Garry spoke to us about how posterity will judge lack of innovation in our risk- averse society. There are no breakthrough innovations in the making of the likes of penicillin, the web, the steam engine, photography among others. While there are several innovations coming out of the developing world, these are largely focused on survival strategies. Things are not so different in the West where the best examples of innovation are new iPad apps! Among the views expressed, one that resonated with everyone present was that the US was way ahead of the rest of the world and that State funding in fundamental research could not be substituted by private funding in innovation.

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