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Jacques Attali is a futurist, a novelist, a politician, an economist, an art critic, a manager, a playwright and a Net Economy consultant and investor. He's a very bright and controversial man. François Mitterrand said about him: "I don't have a computer. I have Jacques Attali." Bill Joy, one of the inventors of Java, said that Attali's ideas "helped inspire the Java and Jini approach to the coming age of pervasive computing". Attali has ideas about everything. He's the modern equivalent of the Renaissance humanists. He's also a plagiarist, and he wasted $300 million dollars of european funds. He rarely sleeps. Attali will never produce anything really great because he's too eclectic.

Attali was born on 1st November 1943 in Algiers, which was French then. By the age of 27, he had graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique, Sciences-Po, the Ecole des Mines de Paris and the Ecole Nationale d'Administration (ENA), which may very well be the most extraordinary educational cursus in French history. For an American, it's like graduating from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and MIT.

From 1981 to 1991, he was President Mitterrand's special advisor, which means that he was one of the most influential person in France: "For years I was more powerful than the prime minister," he said with modesty. In 1990, he was appointed President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) which of course was one of his ideas. Three years later, a report revealed that he had spent gigantic amounts of money on building the bank's new headquarters, and he had to resign. Nowadays, he is an investor in a non-profit technological company, to which he brings his money, his ideas and one of the best address books in the world.

He co-founded a non-governmental organization, "Action contre la faim". He had the idea of a new national library which documents would be all available in electronic form. The second part of the project failed, but the new French National Library was built and contains 10 million volumes nowadays. He also created EUREKA, a European program that promotes new technologies.

In the 70s and 80s, he had a vision of "nomad computing". The nomad uses portable and interconnected devices to obtain freedom of movement. Some of the ideas behind the Java and Jini technologies were based on Attali's thinking.

He published 30 books, including novels, biographies, short stories and one theatrical play (which, of course, featured the most famous French actor). On several occasions he was accused of stealing phrases from other books. Some people also say that he borrowed most of his ideas from other thinkers.

The title of his last book was: "Blaise Pascal, or the French genius". He will probably reuse the title if he writes his memoirs one day. This fascinating man is almost as bright as he thinks he is.


Sources: for example a WSJ article: http://www.wsj.com/public/current/articles/SB973612640942880173.htm. In France, people know him mostly because he was Mitterrand's advisor.
See also his Flashy and megalomaniac Web site: http://www.attali.com

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