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Esther Dyson

entrepreneur , philanthropist , writer , businesswoman

Esther Dyson is an american entrepreneur, angel investor, writer and publicist, philanthropist and social activist. Member of the Board of Directors of Yandex.


Esther Dyson was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on January 14, 1951. In 1980, Dyson founded EDventure Holdings, a pioneering information technology and new media company. In 1982, she took over Rosen's Electronic News. In the late 1980s, she became an active investor in Eastern European technology ventures. She also became involved in public discussion about the future of the Internet. In 2000, she started writing a column for the New York Times.Esther Dyson, named one of the most powerful women in American business by Forbes magazine, is a study in contradictions. She's widely regarded as one of the most influential voices in technology, but she's not a programmer or high-tech executive, and doesn't even have a phone at home. Dyson started out as a magazine fact checker, but ended up managing her own venture capital fund. She has rarely, if ever, voted, but she's an active technology policymaker in Washington.


She entered Harvard University at age 16, but by her own account, rarely attended classes, instead spending most of her time at the university newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, or hanging out with friends on the Harvard Lampoon. She graduated with a B.A. in economics in 1972.


Foray into Venture Capital

She'd hoped to become an entertainment writer at Variety, she ended up as a fact checker, and later a reporter, at Forbes, where she became fascinated by the business world. In 1977, she left print journalism behind and became a Wall Street securities analyst specializing in electronics and technology. In 1980, Dyson founded EDventure Holdings, a pioneering information technology and new media company. Her career took another turn in 1982, when she joined venture capitalist Ben Rosen and took over Rosen's Electronic News, an industry newsletter which she purchased the following year and renamed Release 1.0.

Her newsletter quickly became a must-read among elite technology executives. In 1983, she took over the PC Forum, an industry hot ticket where Bill Gates rubbed shoulders with Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and other high-tech giants.

Internet Policy Adviser

In the late 1980s, Dyson became an active investor in Eastern European technology ventures. She also became increasingly involved in the public discussion about the future of the Internet. As co-chair of the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIIAC), head of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), and interim chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Dyson has helped mediate and inform public policy regarding privacy, encryption, trust, and the assignment of Internet domain names. Her book, Release 2.0, addressed to a general, non-technical audience, presented in plain English the key issues and controversies surrounding the evolving Internet.

In January 2000, Dyson started writing a syndicated twice-weekly column, Release 3.0, for The New York Times. The feature discusses the impact of digital technology on daily life as well as on the world's social, political, and financial fabric. In addition to managing EDventure Holdings, Dyson continues to invest in start-up Internet companies and to serve on various boards that set policy for the Web.

Dyson is an active member of a number of non-profit and advisory organizations. From 1998 to 2000, she was the founding chairman of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. As of 2004, she sat on its "reform" committee, dedicated to defining a role for individuals in ICANN's decision-making and governance structures. She opposed ICANN's 2012 expansion of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). She has followed closely the post-Soviet transition of Eastern Europe, from 2002 to 2012 was a member of the Bulgarian President's IT Advisory Council, along with Vint Cerf, George Sadowsky, and Veni Markovski, among others. She has served as a trustee of, and helped fund, emerging organizations such as Glasses for Humanity, Bridges.org, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Eurasia Foundation. She is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students. She is also a member of the boards of the Sunlight Foundation, StopBadware, The Long Now Foundation.

Dyson has served as a judge for Mayor Michael Bloomberg's NYC BigApps competition in NYC.


  • Achievement  of Esther Dyson

    Release 1.0, her monthly technology-industry newsletter, published by EDventure Holdings.

    Release 2.0, her 1997 book on how the Internet affects individuals' lives. Its full title is Release 2.0: A design for living in the digital age. The revision Release 2.1 was published in 1998.

    She sits on the boards of 23andMe, Eventful.com, Luxoft, Meetup Inc., Pressreader.com (formerly NewspaperDirect), PA Consulting, Personal Inc, Voxiva (the company behind text4baby.org in the US and Russia), WPP Group, XCOR Aerospace and Yandex(Russia - YNDX).

    Dyson is an adviser to the First Monday journal and Visual Ops, an occasional contributor to Arianna Huffington's online Huffington Post, and a board member of the education non-profit TASC.

    Her latest investments include: GeriJoy,Applied Proteomics, Genomera, Habit Labs, HealthEngage, Health Loop, HealthRally, HealthTap,i2dx Keas,[disambiguation needed] Lexity, Medico, Medivo,kurbo, Medivo, Omada Health, Organized Wisdom, PatientsLikeMe, Resilient, Sleepio,Startup Health, Tocagen, Trial Networks, Mequibrium, VitaPortal, PatientsKnowBest, and Valkee.


Quotations: -Change means that what was before wasn't perfect. People want things to be better.

-I think copyright is moral, proper. I think a creator has the right to control the disposition of his or her works - I actually believe that the financial issue is less important than the integrity of the work, the attribution, that kind of stuff.

-But there is a corollary to freedom and that's personal responsibility, and the real challenge is how you generate that personal responsibility without imposing it.

-What I'm thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson's saying that he'd rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press.

Part of the problem is when we bring in a new technology we expect it to be perfect in a way that we don't expect the world that we're familiar with to be perfect.

-It may not always be profitable at first for businesses to be online, but it is certainly going to be unprofitable not to be online.

-Well, take the evolution of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It began as hackers' rights. Then it became general civil liberties of everybody - government stay away.

-As long as a government can come and shoot you, you can't jump on the Internet to freedom.

-Don't leave hold of your common sense. Think about what you're doing and how the technology can enhance it. Don't think about technology first.

-A worker's paradise is a consumer's hell.

-I think that the use of copyright is going to change dramatically. Part of it is economics. There is just going to be so much content out there - there's a scarcity of attention. Information consumes attention, and there's too much information.

-Having seen a non-market economy, I suddenly understood much better what I liked about a market economy.

-There's almost no way of doing importing honestly, because if you do you're at such a disadvantage competitively. So people spend huge amounts of effort getting around stupid laws and not paying taxes.

-I've seen disgusting excess in business, and I've seen disgusting excess in Washington. But at the same time, I've certainly learned that Washington matters and that you can't ignore it, especially when you get into telecom.

-I became a real free market fanatic. I'm probably less so now than even two or three years ago.

-Since I became chairman, I've tried to turn EFF into civil liberties and responsibilities.

-And the Russians certainly don't have it. If a woman shows up in a fur coat, I just assume she's a crook. And that's me, the nice American. The assumption that you can't make money honestly is a killer.

-From the business point of view - not to overstate it - intellectual property is dead; long live intellectual process. Long live service; long live performance.

-I would much rather see responsibilities exercised by individuals than have them imposed by the government.

-In the sense that people who produce things and work get rewarded, statistically. You don't get rewarded precisely for your effort, but in Russia you got rewarded for being alive, but not very well rewarded.

-In the space of three weeks, I met a fair bunch of the guys who were just starting those little programmers' co-ops, and everybody was talking about starting businesses.

-Oh, that all the things my father had told me about how disgusting Washington is are true. And again it's the system - there are lots of nice, well-meaning people there. But it's a sleazy place. And politics is all about doing favors.

-I think I have the right to know what Steve Forbes paid in taxes - I don't think there should be a law. I think there should be a presumption. I wouldn't vote for a guy who wouldn't reveal what he paid in taxes. That kind of thing.


Freeman Dyson - American
Freeman Dyson - father of Esther Dyson

Freeman John Dyson FRS (born 15 December 1923) is an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician, known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

In 1947 Dyson moved to the US, as Commonwealth Fellow at Cornell University (1947–1948) and the Institute for Advanced Study (1948–1949). Between 1949 and 1951, he was a teaching fellow at the University of Birmingham (UK).

In 1951 he joined the faculty at Cornell as a physics professor, although still lacking a doctorate, and in 1953 he received a permanent post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey—where he has now lived for more than fifty years. In 1957 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States and renounced his British nationality. One reason he gave decades later is that his children born in the US had not been recognized as British subjects.

Dyson is best known for demonstrating in 1949 the equivalence of two then-current formulations of quantum electrodynamics—Richard Feynman's diagrams and the operator method developed by Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. He was the first person (besides Feynman) to appreciate the power of Feynman diagrams, and his paper written in 1948 and published in 1949 was the first to make use of them. He said in that paper that Feynman diagrams were not just a computational tool, but a physical theory, and developed rules for the diagrams that completely solved the renormalization problem. Dyson's paper and also his lectures presented Feynman's theories of QED (quantum electrodynamics) in a form that other physicists could understand, facilitating the physics community's acceptance of Feynman's work. Robert Oppenheimer, in particular, was persuaded by Dyson that Feynman's new theory was as valid as Schwinger's and Tomonaga's. Oppenheimer rewarded Dyson with a lifetime appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study, "for proving me wrong", in Oppenheimer's words.

Also in 1949, in a related work, Dyson invented the Dyson series. It was this paper that inspired John Ward to derive his celebrated Ward identity.

Dyson also did work in a variety of topics in mathematics, such as topology, analysis, number theory and random matrices. There is an interesting story involving random matrices. In 1973 the number theorist Hugh Montgomery was visiting the Institute for Advanced Study and had just made his pair correlation conjecture concerning the distribution of the zeros of the Riemann zeta function. He showed his formula to the mathematician Atle Selberg who said it looked like something in mathematical physics and he should show it to Dyson, which he did. Dyson recognized the formula as the pair correlation function of the Gaussian unitary ensemble, which has been extensively studied by physicists. This suggested that there might be an unexpected connection between the distribution of primes 2,3,5,7,11, ... and the energy levels in the nuclei of heavy elements such as uranium.

From 1957 to 1961 he worked on the Orion Project, which proposed the possibility of space-flight using nuclear pulse propulsion. A prototype was demonstrated using conventional explosives, but the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty (which Dyson was involved in and supported) permitted only underground nuclear testing, so the project was abandoned.

In 1958 he led the design team for the TRIGA, a small, inherently safe nuclear reactor used throughout the world in hospitals and universities for the production of medical isotopes.

Around 1979, Dyson worked with the Institute for Energy Analysis on climate studies. This group, under the direction of Alvin Weinberg, pioneered multidisciplinary climate studies, including a strong biology group. Also during the 1970s, he worked on climate studies conducted by the JASON defense advisory group.

Dyson retired from the Institute for Advanced Study in 1994. In 1998, Dyson joined the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund. As of 2003 he was president of the Space Studies Institute, the space research organization founded by Gerard K. O'Neill; As of 2013 he is on its Board of Trustees.Dyson is a long-time member of the JASON group.

Dyson is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books.

Dyson has won numerous scientific awards but never a Nobel Prize. Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg has said that the Nobel committee has "fleeced" Dyson, but Dyson himself remarked in 2009, "I think it's almost true without exception if you want to win a Nobel Prize, you should have a long attention span, get hold of some deep and important problem and stay with it for ten years. That wasn't my style."

In 2012, he published (with William H. Press) a fundamental new result about the Prisoner's Dilemma in PNAS.

Verena Huber-Dyson
Verena Huber-Dyson - mother of Esther Dyson

Verena Esther Huber-Dyson (born Naples, May 6, 1923) is a Swiss-American mathematician, known for work in group theory and formal logic. She has been described as a "brilliant mathematician", and has done research on the interface between algebra and logic, focusing on "undecidability" in group theory. She is currently emeritus faculty in the philosophy department of the University of Calgary, Alberta.

Verena Esther Huber was born in Naples on May 6, 1923, to Charles and Berthy Huber of Zurich, Switzerland. Growing up in Athens, she studied mathematics, with minors in physics and philosophy, in Zurich. In 1942, at nineteen, she married Hans Haefeli, a fellow mathematician.The couple had a daughter, Katarina, in 1945.

Huber (then Haefeli) earned her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1947 from the University of Zurich, studying with Andreas Speiser.

She then moved, with Hans and Katarina, to the United States, divorcing amicably with Haefeli in 1948.

Verena then accepted a postdoctoral fellow appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University,where she worked on group theory and formal logic. She also began teaching at Goucher College near Baltimore during this time.

After a brief involvement with Abraham Pais, she married Freeman Dyson in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 11, 1950, after getting engaged only three weeks after the couple met. They had two children together, Esther Dyson (born July 14, 1951, in Zurich) and George Dyson (born 1953, Ithaca, New York)and divorced in 1958.

In 1957, she met Alfred Tarski at Cornell. While briefly romantically involved with Georg Kreisel, Verena and her daughter Katarina moved to California with him.In 1959 she began teaching at San Jose State University, then accepted a position at Berkeley, working with Tarski, joining his group at Berkeley in Logic and the Methodology of Science. He pursued her romantically and the two were involved until the early 1960s, when she left the Bay Area.

She has taught at the University of Zürich, University of Monash, as well as at UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois, in mathematics and in philosophy departments. She accepted a position in the philosophy department of the University of Calgary, becoming emerita in 1988.

George Dyson - American and Canadian
George Dyson - brother of Esther Dyson

George Dyson (born 1953) is a non-fiction author and historian of technology whose publications broadly cover the evolution of technology in relation to the physical environment and the direction of society. He has written on a wide range of topics including the history of computing, the development of algorithms and intelligence, communication systems, space exploration, and the design of water craft.

Lecturing widely at academic institutions, corporations, and tech conferences, Dyson gives a historical context to the evolution of technology in modern society and provides thought-provoking ideas on the directions in which technology and the Internet might develop.

Dyson's first book, Baidarka, published in 1986, described his research on the history of the Aleut kayak, its evolution in the hands of Russian fur traders, and his adaptation of its design to modern materials. He is the author of Project Orion: The Atomic Spaceship 1957–1965 and Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence, in which he expands upon the premise of Samuel Butler's 1863 article of the same name and suggests that the Internet is a living, sentient being. His 2012 book Turing's Cathedral [3] has been described as "a creation myth of the digital universe." It was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times 2012 Book Prize in the science and technology category[4] and was chosen by University of California Berkeley's annual "On the Same Page" program for the academic year 2013–14.[5]

Dyson is the founder/owner of Dyson, Baidarka & Company, a designer of Aleut-style skin kayaks; he is credited with the revival of the baidarka style of kayak.

Dyson was a visiting lecturer and research associate at Western Washington University's Fairhaven College and was Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2002–03. He is a frequent contributor to the Edge Foundation.

He lives and works in Bellingham, Washington and is the father of Lauren Dyson.