JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 40 : April 20, 2001
Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- MIT - free on the web !
- Wireless - faster than DSL or cable-modems
- Ray Kurzweil's new website & coming book
- Computing - one atom at a time
- Printing flavors and fragrances from the web
- CEO pay in Europe/UK
- Electric Car
MIT - free on the web !
Many universities are now striving to market their courses to the Internet
masses in hopes of dot-com wealth. But the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology has chosen the opposite path: to post virtually all its course
materials on the Web, free to everybody.
MIT recently announced a 10-year initiative, apparently the biggest of its
kind, which aims to create public Web sites for almost all of its 2,000
courses, and to post materials like lecture notes, problem sets,
syllabuses, exams, simulations, even video lectures. Professors'
participation will be voluntary, but the university is committing itself to
post sites for all its courses, at a cost of up to $100 million.
Charles Vest, the president of MIT, said the giveaway idea came in a
"traditional Eureka moment" as the institute - like nearly every other
university - brainstormed and soul-searched about how best to take
advantage of the Internet.
Read about MIT OpenCourseWare
Wireless - Faster than DSL or cable-modems
A big wireless breakthrough benchmark has just arrived on the scene. Sprint
and Lucent have just completed that first on-the-air test of a cellular
phone capable of transmitting data at a whopping 2.4MB per second - that's
faster than most DSL or cable modems and about 165 times faster than any
other wireless network can deliver. This is not just third generation, but
the top end of the so-called 3G scale. It is so fast that it's bordering on
the fourth generation of telephone service that was supposed to arrive 10
years from now.
Within the next two years, these high-speed data rates promise to alter the
way people traditionally use wireless services and will enable Sprint PCS
customers to take advantage of 3G advanced mobile phone applications such
as streaming video and audio.
Read the Sprint & Lucent press release
Read David Coursey's analysis
Ray Kurzweil's coming book & new website
You will recall that we introduced (JimPinto.com eNews 6 Feb. 2001) the
subject of "The Singularity Watch" as the "fringe-thinking" of John Smart
(yes, that's his real name). Raymond Kurzweil's upcoming book is entitled
"The Singularity Is Near" and he has published a précis on the web which I
recommend that you read.
Ray Kurzweil suggests that few people have truly internalized the
implications of the fact that not only is change accelerating, but the rate
of change itself is accelerating. We will not experience a hundred years of
progress in the twenty-first century; rather we will witness something like
twenty thousand years of progress (at today's rate of progress) in the next
Relating to revolutionary Nanotechnology, a Noble Prize winner recently
insisted that "we're not going to see self-replicating nanoengineered
entities for a hundred years". In response, Ray Kurzweil points out that
that 100 years is indeed a reasonable estimate of the amount of technical
progress required to achieve this particular milestone - at today's rate of
progress. But, because the rate of progress is doubling every decade, we'll
see a century of progress - at today's rate - in only 25 calendar years.
For a wide variety of technologies ranging from electronic to biological,
the acceleration of progress and growth applies. Indeed, we find not just
simple exponential growth, but "double" exponential growth, meaning that
the rate of exponential growth is itself growing exponentially. Clearly,
this cannot continue. So something significant must inevitably happen.
“The Singularity” is technological change so rapid and so profound that it
represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. Some would say that we
cannot comprehend The Singularity, at least with our current level of
understanding, and that it is impossible, therefore, to look past its
"event horizon" and make sense of what lies beyond.
Read The précis of Ray Kurzweil's new book
Look at Ray Kurzweil's remarkable new website
Visit John Smart's Singularity Watch website
Computing - one atom at a time
Less than a decade ago, quantum computing was just an intellectual parlor
game, a way for theorists to test their mettle by imagining absurdly small
computers with parts the size of individual atoms. At its root, computation
is just a matter of shuffling bits - flipping atoms into different
orientations would result in extremely tiny computer. But that is just the
beginning. Quantum mechanics, the rules governing subatomic particles,
dictates that these quantum bits, called qubits (pronounced KYEW-bits), can
also be in a "superposition," indicating 1 and 0 at the same time. Two
atoms can simultaneously be in four states: 00, 01, 10 and 11. Three atoms
can say eight things at once: 000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110 and 111.
For each atom added to the chain, the number of possibilities increases
exponentially, by a power of 2. Put together a few dozen atoms and they
could perform vast numbers of calculations simultaneously.
Recently, scientists at Los Alamos, NM coaxed a molecule called crotonic
acid into executing a simple calculation. If they can find ways to leverage
this achievement to embrace multiple atoms (say 40), this will execute 10
trillion calculations in parallel. The goal, still a distant glimmer, is to
harness thousands of atoms, resulting in a machine so powerful that it will
solve problems that are impossible for even the fastest supercomputers. At
Los Alamos, some of this thinking about Quantum computers is starting to
turn into reality.
Read The NY Times story
Printing flavors and fragrances from the web
Browsing takeaway pizza websites will never be the same again: you'll soon
be able to download and print the pizza's aroma and taste. A company called
TriSenx of Savannah, Georgia, will launch a device next month that looks
like a desktop printer but which can "print" smells and tastes. The $269
printer is loaded with a cartridge containing more than 200 water-based
flavors that are deposited in varying combinations by a print head onto
fiber-based cardboard to make over a thousand different smells. The company
is adapting the device to print on an edible paper-like wafer, allowing it
to print out tastes too. Included in the price is software to help avoid
combinations that don't smell or taste too good.
New Scientist first provided this interesting news
Visit Trisenx website
Relating to the item on outrageous CEO compensation (JimPinto.com eNews 9
April '01), Peter Reilly [firstname.lastname@example.org], European Engineering
Analyst, Deutsche Bank (UK) provided his input on CEO pay from the
“UK/Euro pay is a lot more modest than US so the issue has been less
contentious. Here in the UK there is a debate taking place about how to
account for stock options and it seems likely that the value of options
awarded will be treated as an operating expense. The issue is less clear in
Europe as many companies only disclose total board compensation, not
individual pay. In summary, the old world seems to have avoided some of the
new world's excesses but the trend is for executive pay to grow faster than
general employee's pay and for more use of share price related rewards such
as options, equity grant, share price linked bonuses etc.”
Regarding the story on the imminent electric car revolution, Klaus
Kretzschmar [email@example.com] from Malaysia e-wrote :
“Peter Huber of Forbes only got it half right. Fast silicon power switches
have already come to the limits of what is technologically possible. The
real breakthrough is in Silicon Carbide (SiC) based MOSFETS, Schottky
diodes etc. which can withstand much higher temperatures. I am convinced
that the electric car of the future will have "SiC inside".”
On the same subject, Bill Volk [firstname.lastname@example.org] e-said:
“Fiat had "electric valves" (solenoid operated valves) on some race engines
in the 1970's. This was used to create the sort of variable valving you see
on the better engines today. Of course, Fiat didn't get it right - which is
a lesson for all of us: it isn't who's first; it's who gets it right
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