For most of its history, Bell Labs served as the research division of AT&T. In recent years, it has foundered as it became the research division of Lucent, now Alcatel-Lucent. The huge telecom-equipment manufacturer has stumbled and downsized in an unrelentingly difficult business climate, leaving the Labs with about 1,200 scientists and an ill-defined future. Against this backdrop, Bell Labs president Jeong Kim has said he's trying to innovate innovation. It seems like the catchphrase of a marketer rather than an engineer, but there probably isn't any other way to describe his intentions. When Kim took over the Labs in 2005, his overarching concern was not how to produce more ideas but how to capitalize on them. Kim is an optimist, both in regard to technology and to life. He knows from personal experience that the future can be better than the past. The innovator, he says, should never lose sight of the actual goal of innovation: not new technology, but what new technology can deliver.
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