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
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: