Remembering those who touched and influenced my life…

John Nash died yesterday in a car crash. His wife also died in the accident. A taxi driver lost control of the car killing both of them.

Nash was the father of modern game theory. He was the subject of a Hollywood movie “A beautiful mind” and the book of the same name by Silvia Nasser. I first read the book when it came out in 1998. It impacted me greatly. First because it is a discussion of the line between genius and in the end what we consider madness. But in the end it is also a story of the human spirit. John Nash descended both into what is often called mental illness and to the system we have for those who suffer from mental illness. I am not sure at this point which is worse.

He was able to rise above both his illness and our system. Sad that his life was cut short in an automobile accident. I never had the honor of meeting John Nash but I am deeply saddened by his passing.

There are many different people that have influenced me or for that matter whose thinking I found so extraordinary that I did everything I could to learn more. William “Bill” Gates is another example of a human being with incredible ideas. My early computer years were as a devotee of Steven Jobs and the Apple computer concept. I came over time to see the genius of what Bill Gates saw in the computer potential and slowly moved from the Macintosh world to the PC world. His post Microsoft vision as laid out in his foundation is even grander.

There have been others. Voices who concepts and ideas rang forth into the world. I read a book about the men and woman that shaped this country early on. One of the names and the actions of that person have stuck with me as well. Tadeusz Kosciuszko was a native of Poland. He came to America based on the promise of our revolution and fought for America. Ultimately rising to the rank of General he counted as his friends Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and many other members of the Founding Fathers. During the war he wrestled with the inconsistency of liberty for those with Land and of a certain ilk. He watched men whose forefathers came from Africa die alongside men whose forefathers came from Europe. He found no difference in them (because there isn’t one). He freed his slaves. He spent years trying to convince his friend Thomas Jefferson to do the same thing. A great man who believed in the freedom’s inherent for all.

Not that those who influence me need to stand above the crowd and be giants of thought and deed. Many influence me every day. I find myself constantly amazed at the capabilities of the human mind and the human heart.

My father influenced my thinking as did my grandfather early in my life and both of them well into my adult years. They taught me to listen and hear both sides of an argument. They taught me to consider the impact of my bias on the decision I was making. My mother taught me to care for those around me but to pay attention to those in need.

So many other people influenced me over the years. My wife at times pulling me back from the brink of doing something stupid. My children infusing in me the wonder of the world that sometimes you lose as an adult. My dog and the family dogs whose unconditional love isn’t bound to my success or failure of a day, week or year rather it is bound to their love of me as a person.

Thank you to all of you. Your gentle shaping hands have made me who I am.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow