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In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Michael Dertouzos' passing, please share your cherished memories, recollections and musings on this legendary leader.

In 1998 the AI Lab and LCS joined forces to have a joint project with NTT in Japan.  Ultimately it operated with close to 20 projects  across the two labs, each with co-PIs from MIT and NTT.  Bob Brown, then Dean of Engineering, had suggested looking for a partnership in Japan and he and I had made the initial set of contacts.  But Victor Zue really knew everyone in Japan better than anyone and with his back channel guidance we went from the initial 18 possibilities that Bob and I had met with, to 5 and then to final negotiations with NTT.  Michael, Victor, and I travelled to Japan to negotiate the final deal.  Since I had started the effort with Bob, I was the titular leader of the group.  Michael was insistent that no leader ever carry his own bag with the documents under negotiation--one needed presence to be a leader, especially with the people on the other side of the negotiating table, and carrying one's own bag was just not part of presence.  Anyone who knew Michael knows how he personified leadership, both within MIT, and in interacting with the wider world.  Despite being almost 20 years my senior, and infinitely more experienced in negotiations, Michael insisted that he should carry my satchel during the official meetings in Japan, so that our soon to be partners would respect the leader.  And he did so.  It was a very sweet gesture.  At the end of the final negotiations, after Michael, Victor, and I had stepped into the elevator, turned and ceremonially waved to our new partners as we bid farewell, the doors on the elevator closed. One second later, Michael literally threw my bag in my direction, saying "Here, this is yours!".  That is a really fond memory, and reminds me whenever I think of it of Michael's generosity to a junior colleague.  That generosity really knew no bounds.

Rodney Brooks, CSAIL

August 26 2011