A M*A*S*H-up at TechFest

Alan Alda chats with Microsoft executive Craig Mundie as part of the research festivities.

Tech Culture

Microsoft aimed to spice up its TechFest keynote event Tuesday by inviting actor and PBS science show host Alan Alda onstage to chat with executive Craig Mundie.

Former M*A*S*H star Alan Alda chats with Microsoft's chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, as part of this year's TechFest. Ina Fried/CNET News.com

Though perhaps an odd pairing, it's not uncommon for Microsoft to have celebrities and executives mingle onstage at its events.

During the talk, Alda and Mundie talked about how computer science is moving into new areas such as biology. One topic they adressed was the notion that at some point drugs may be able to truly be tested on computer cell simulations rather than living beings.

Alda pressed Mundie on whether Microsoft would keep funding projects that had no hope of becoming profitable products for the company.

"We will continue to look for ways to place things where the benefit will continue," Mundie said. For example, he said that if the company discovered something that would dramatically help farmers in Indonesia, but had limited application beyond that, "we might find a way to transfer that technology."

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