A recommendation for the young inventor
When it comes to today's young people, particularly the 14-year-old eager to become an inventor, Ayyadurai recommends recommends embarking on independent studies, and taking a break from school before heading to college.
"I, in fact, believe people should work before they even go to school," said Ayyadurai, a faculty lecturer at MIT in the Biological Engineering Division. "Many people don't even know why they're going to college."
But he's not against going to college entirely, rather he is a fan of a combination of experiential learning and rote discipline. After all, Ayyadurai is at the front lines when it comes to preparing America's youth for careers in science and technology.
He developed a class on traditional medicine and systems technology and another on systems visualization at MIT. The latter gives students who would otherwise not engage in the arts an opportunity to illustrate a complex concept. The course went from 6 to 32 and now 50 students, becoming one of the most popular classes on campus.
Based on his experience with the class, Ayyadurai recommends teaching the systems first and then bringing in the more complex, detailed math and science.
"The problems of today's world are not just learning how to build a computer better or writing a software program. A lot of that stuff is being outsourced," said Ayyadurai. "The big problems are large-scale systems." Think education, transportation and even relationships, he said.
"If we can teach students that the world is very complex and to understand that complexity you need to have a systems approach,” he continued, "I think that systems approach is what students want to learn."
The intellectual property debate
"I fundamentally do not believe in the patenting of software," said Ayyadurai. "It would be like Shakespeare patenting the tragic love story."
He admits that in his work as a venture capitalist he has had to go against his own belief. But, rather than patents, Ayyadurai prefers copyright, which allows others to innovate using the technology.
America, freedom and innovation
"We fail to recognize how much freedom we actually have here relative to these other countries," said Ayyadurai when asked what the United States gets wrong when it comes to moving its innovation economy forward.
"That awareness,” he continued, “is what needs to be developed for people."
India and China, two countries making significant strides in technology and innovation still lag behind the U.S., according to Ayyadurai, who says it's due to a lack of fundamental freedoms in those nations.
"We should not really have any types of jobs issues here," continued Ayyadurai, saying that the "basis of American democracy" is innovation.
"Innovation actually demands freedom, and freedom demands innovation," said Ayyadurai. "I don't think there's more money we need to throw at it."
Ayyadurai also has some recommendations for the presidential candidates when it comes to policy proposals that will accelerate rather than slow innovation growth.
"Small businesses, I believe, are the place where innovation really takes place," said Ayyadurai.
With venture capital moving away from mid- and small-tier businesses, those companies are in need of government assistance. "There's this whole strata of small businesses that needs tax credits, I think."
Are we overcommunicating?
"I think people are overcommunicating in the sense they have missed out on what is communication," said Ayyadurai. "A lot of time when people are texting, it's not the content — you don't need to text — but people are doing it just to connect with another human being, so a lot of the information is almost irrelevant."
"I think we're in this phase now in humanity where we have all these communication vehicles but we still are, as humans, trying to figure out how do we connect," he continued, "because that ritual mode of communication is removed from us."
Watch clips of the Post’s interview with Ayyadurai on Innovations.