“Who” my old buddy Mick asked me, ‘invented the super computer?’ ‘Seymour Cray of course’ I answered smugly. After all, I'm paid to know such things. But then again, so is Mick. And he’s also known for taking the piss. ‘Well, not according to the BBC, or CNN, or Time magazine.’ He replied with a smile, adding ‘it was Philip Emeagwali.’
‘What? Who the fuck is Philip whatsisname?’
‘The inventor of the supercomputer, the winner of the Gordon Bell Prize in 1989’.
Now I was really bothered as in fact I'd never even heard of this guy or the Gordon Bell Prize. First chance I got I set about closing this shameful gap in my knowledge. Sure enough, the BBC featured ‘Dr. Philip Emeagwali’ in their ‘Digital Giants’ series ‘in which the digital world's top thinkers share their visions of the future’. Indeed.
TIME magazine gushed that ‘the Web owes much of its existence to Philip Emeagwali", and yes, CNN describes him as "a father of the Internet".
For good measure no less than that noted computer scientist Bill Clinton designated him "one of the great minds of the Information Age" He’s also been described as ‘the Bill Gates of Africa’ (which isn't saying a lot, admittedly’) and his face adorns a Nigerian postage stamp because, apparently “he advertises the genius of our [Nigerian] people.”
Thanks to Dave C. for this link. Check it out.
Now how in God’s name had I failed to ever hear of this guy, never read a paper of his in the journals, never met him at a conference?
The reason is simple: He’s a total fraud from start to finish, as even the most cursory search on the Web would show. Such a cursory search on the Web of course appears to have been beyond the capacity of the major ‘news’ agencies and Prez Bill.
Anyway, here’s a quick summary of what must rank as one of the most grotesque misrepresentations ever in the history of computing, or indeed science in general.
Emeagwali has no Ph.D., having failed twice to convince the University of Michigan that he deserved one. This even after he took a court case on the basis that the decision was “a violation of his civil rights and that the university had discriminated against him in several ways because of his race”. But he wasn't even able to use the courts reverse the University’s decision. Now as a frequent PhD examiner I can tell you that all universities step on eggshells to give any half literate oaf a doctorate provided he’s from a ‘disadvantaged minority’. The fact that UM felt they had to go to court, and that they won, shows that his thesis and viva must have been abysmally BAAAD.
Now a genius like this should have dozens, if not hundreds, of papers published in peer-reviewed journals. The sum total based on my research……..nil. Nada. The same nil figure applies to inventions and patents, despite his claims to have ‘more than fifty’. These two statistics alone show that the guy doesn’t even have the official status of a junior lecturer in an obscure polytechnic.
So what about the basis for his real claim to fame, ‘winning’ the Gordon Bell Prize “supercomputing's Nobel Prize”? Now there’s a fairly consistent correlation between the prestige of a prize and the money it pays. For example, a Nobel Prize enriches the lucky recipient with about $1.5 million, and computing’s Turing Prize by the less modest $100,000. You really start going downmarket once the value descends to about $10,000 or less. And how much did the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize pay? The princely sum of $1000!!! One thousand dollars.
And as I’ll show later, the genius only shared the prize, netting in total $200. That's right, 200 bucks. You’d win more on a pub quiz, but he’s built a world-wide reputation on it!
Still, let’s not be niggardly (whoops!). It seems that “in 1989, he programmed more than 65,000 processors to perform the world's fastest computation: 3.1 billion calculations per second. The feat smashed the previous record and proved that a network of small computers could outperform more powerful, expensive supercomputers.”
In fact the prize in this instance was won by a team from Mobil Oil “whose entry ran twice as fast as Emeagwali's, with 20% more cost efficiency.” So why was Emeagwali cut in? For good old diversity reasons - the judges wet their knickers at the thought of a black winner, and were also reluctant to have Mobil as the sole winners. So Emeagwali in effect won nothing, but was awarded $200 out of misguided reverse racism.
And folks, that's the full extent of his verifiable achievements. And did he achieve even that? Well, we learn that he ‘was associated with a team that developed an optimization program for the oil industry’. My, my, the plot thickens. He was ‘associated with’ the team. (Black History Month anyone?) Given that he’s lied about everything else, isn't at least a strong possibility that he copied the source code for this application, repackaged it, and submitted it as his own?
Make that a certainty, not a possibility. Remember he hasn’t a single peer-reviewed research paper published. His claimed achievement would have generated a rich seam in the most prestigious journals. He’s have been dining out on that in terms of published papers for years. In fact he hasn’t even appeared once in any of the thousands of Requests for Comments that go into the development of Internet technical standards. Anyone who has made even the remotest contribution, let alone being ‘a father of the Internet’ would have appeared in dozens of them. His name appears nowhere.
In effect, he has no verifiable achievements of any kind in computing. Yet he’s had the unquestioning adulation I referred to earlier heaped on him. And you’ll be glad to know that he and all his extended family ‘have taken up residence in the US’. I'm sure all my American readers will be thrilled with this news.
How has this outrage happened? I think you all know how it happened. Any black who can read and hasn’t recently killed anyone will get catapulted into the genius category. Hasn’t the whole thing degenerated into a complete farce? We’re in Keystone Cops territory here.
And what about the prestigious MSM organs I referred to earlier? Well, Google this guy’s name and by the third entry you’ll start reading about the fraud dimension. Where were CNN, the BBC and Time when it came to this kind of rudimentary fact-checking. As I said in this post about the MSM, they’re not only useless, they’re misleading us, and doing it deliberately.