July 15, 2007

The SUV Meme

At the FORTUNE iMeme conference I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Dawkins among other brilliant attendees.

One conference panel featured Dawkins (creator of the concept of "memes" among many other accomplishments), Craig Venter, and Bill Joy (whose demeanor seems rather grim these days). For me this was one of the most interesting panels of the conference, just to hear what Dawkins, Venter, and Joy are up to these days.

Joy, who's now funding green technologies at Kleiner Perkins, remarked several times that one of the biggest problems he's facing is a reluctance, a lack of willingness, in the marketplace to adopt green technology faster.

When it came time for questions from the audience, I asked Joy and Dawkins what they thought of the "SUV Meme", the notion that sport-utility vehicles are safe, powerful, the best thing to buy, own, and drive. How do we kill this meme, I asked. They didn't have answers.

When the panel moderator asked the panelists who among them drove SUVs. The moderator raised his hand, and, reluctantly, a bit embarrassed, Venter (one of whose current projects is to design synthetic bacteria to create biofuels) raised his.

Posted by brian at July 15, 2007 01:44 PM


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