JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 188 : 5 August 2005

Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Pinto's Points - How to win in the automation business

Hey, my new book will be ready by the end of August:
"Pinto's Points - How to win in the Automation Business".
My previous book, "Automation Unplugged" was an ISA best-seller - so now I have a record to beat.

This book is an updated & enhanced collection of ISA'S "Pinto’s Points" columns, published weekly as part of InTech news. It's 270 pages, (almost a tome) with 174 "points" in 6 different parts, each introduced by a "luminary". It covers management topics, globalization, sales and marketing, technology trends and futures, and far-out technology visions. It closes with whimsical humor and poetry which I hope you'll enjoy.

Here's a summary of the Table of Contents:

    Part 1 - Management & Leadership: Pointing the Way through New-Age Confusion
    Introduction by Jack Bolick, President, Honeywell Process Systems.

    Part 2 - Staying Competitive: Points to Survive & Thrive in the New Age
    Introduction by Perry Marshall, Perry S. Marshall Associates

    Part 3 - Tomorrow’s Hot Technology: Pointing to New Growth
    Introduction by Hesh Kagan, Business Development, Invensys

    Part 4 - Surfing the Technology Waves: Pace-Setting Points
    Introduction by Dick Morley, PLC Inventor and Industry Guru

    Part 5 - Futurist Visions: Pointing to the Future
    Introduction - Joe Coates, Renowned Futurist

    Part 6 - Fun Stuff: Points to Entertain & Amuse You
    Introduction - Eoin Ó Riain, Instrumentation Readout, Ireland

"Pinto's Points" is priced at $30.00 ($28.00 for ISA members). It will soon be available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other websites and stores. In the meantime, you can place an advance order through the ISA website (web link below).

If you're in the US or Canada, you may wish to order a personalized, autographed copy direct from Jim Pinto, at a special advance price of $ 35.00 (includes US & Canada shipping). Delivery from other countries will be arranged through local sources.

Click Order your autographed copy of Pinto's Points

Click Buy from ISA online: Pinto's Points

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The grand convergence in 2010

Gartner predicts that by 2010 three major trends will converge to create disruptions and opportunities as significant as the Internet.
  • Ubiquitous access - free super broadband wireless access anywhere and everywhere
  • Ambient intelligence - everything with smarts and connectivity through self-organizing mesh-networks (also known as smart dust).
  • Semantic connectivity - common language, definition and terms for smart objects to communicate with each other to facilitate data interchange, validation and mapping between different terminologies.
The only questions are whether this disruptive change will happen in continual spurts, rather than as a big bang at the end of the decade.

Gartner predicts that by 2015, collective intelligence breakthroughs will drive a 10% productivity increase, and the ratio of managers to knowledge producers will be reduced by 50%. The idea is that through data-mining and collaborative environments, the collective inputs from groups can yield better, more distributed decisions.

Eventually the three trends will reach a collective "tipping point" that fuels new kinds of applications and business models, with far more "native" intelligence embedded within the network.

Interestingly, other kinds of "grand convergence" are being forecast for the next few years. It will be interesting to see how all these convergences converge....

Click The grand convergence in 2010

Click (Another kind of "grand convergence)
The Grand Convergence Imperative

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NY Times op-ed - A passage from India

Here's my summary of a 12 July 2005 NY Time op-ed piece by Suketu Mehta which I thought was lucid and insightful. I too was born in India. I moved to England for about 10 years, and have spent the rest of my life (some 35 years) in America. This op-ed rang bells in my head and heart!
    "Stories about big layoffs and huge offshore job expansions have aroused a primal fear in the Western world: that they might soon need to line up outside the Indian Embassy for work visas and their children will have to learn Hindi. Just as my parents had to line up outside the American consulate in Bombay, and my sisters and I had to learn English.

    "My father came to America in 1977 not for its political freedoms or its way of life, but for the hope of a better economic future for his children. My grandfathers on both sides moved from rural India to the big cities. Mobility is survival. Now we face the possibility that my children, when they grow up, will find their jobs outsourced to the very country their grandfather left to pursue economic opportunity.

    "The outsourcing debate seems to have mutated into a contest between the country of my birth and the country of my nationality. Of course I feel a loyalty to America: it gave my parents a new life and my sons were born here. I have a vested interest in seeing America prosper. But I am here because the country of my ancestors didn't understand the changing world; it couldn't change its technology and its philosophy and its notions of social mobility fast enough to fight off the European colonists, who won not so much with the might of advanced weaponry as with the clear logical philosophy of the Enlightenment. Their systems of thinking conquered our own. So, since independence, Indians have had to learn; we have had to slog for long hours in the classroom while the children of other countries went out to play.

    "When I moved to Queens, in New York City, at the age of 14, I found myself, for the first time in my life, considered good at math. In India, math was my worst subject, and I regularly found myself near the bottom of the class. But in my American school, the standards were so low that I was near the top of the class. If I were now to move with my family to India, my children - who go to one of the best private schools in New York - would have to take remedial math and science courses to get into a good school in Bombay.

    "Of course, India's no wonderland. A quarter of its one billion people live below the poverty line, 40% are illiterate, and the child malnutrition rate exceeds that of sub-Saharan Africa. But those Indians who went to the US have done remarkably well: Indians make up one of the richest ethnic groups in this country. During the technology boom of late 1990's, Indians were responsible for 10% of all the start-ups in Silicon Valley. And in this year's national spelling bee, the top four contestants were of S. Asian origin.

    "There is a perverse hypocrisy about the whole jobs debate, especially in Europe. The colonial powers invaded countries like India and China, pillaged them of their treasures and commodities and made sure their industries weren't allowed to develop, so they would stay impoverished and unable to compete.

    "Then the imperialists complained when the destitute people of the former colonies came to their shores to clean their toilets and dig their sewers; they complained when later generations came to earn high wages as doctors and engineers; and now they're complaining when their jobs are being lost to children of the empire who are working harder than they are.

    "The rich countries can't have it both ways. They can't provide huge subsidies for their agricultural conglomerates and complain when Indians, who can't make a living on their farms, then go to the cities and study computers and take away their jobs. Why are Indians willing to write code for a tenth of what Americans make for the same work? It's not by choice; it's because they're still struggling to stand on their feet after 200 years of colonial rule.

    "Of course, it's heart-wrenching to see American programmers - many of whom are of Indian origin - lose their jobs and have to worry about how they'll pay the mortgage. But they are ill served by politicians who promise to bring their jobs back by the facile tactic of banning them from leaving. This strategy will ensure only that our schools stay terrible; it'll be an entire country run like the dairy industry, feasible only because of price controls and subsidies.

    "But we have a resource of incalculable worth right here to help us compete: the immigrants who've been given a new life in America. There are many more Indians in the US than there are Americans in India. Indian-Americans will help America understand India and trade with it to our mutual benefit. Just as Arab-Americans can help us fight Al Qaeda, Indian-Americans can help us deal with the emerging economic superpower that is India. This is the return of the gift of citizenship.

    "And just in case, I'm making sure my children learn Hindi."

Click A Passage From India (NY Times, requires registration):

Click International Herald Tribune - Passage from India

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Book: On Intelligence

Jeff Hawkins, who created the PalmPilot, Treo smart phone and other best-selling handhelds, explains why computers are NOT intelligent and how, based on his new ideas, really intelligent machines can be built. In this book, he combines his two loves, computers and brains, to examine the future of artificial intelligence.

This book is Jeff Hawkins' epiphany - indeed, he has started a new company, called Numenta, to pursue the possibilities. Jeff writes like he talks - in simple, understandable style for the average person.

Good, readable book. I read it cover-to-cover, and recommend it.

Click Book: On Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins

Click Interview with Jeff Hawkins - Innovator

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Animal cloning and "chimeras" - human cloning next

Bear with me, this is some pretty weird stuff - fact, not science fiction. I'm pointing out things that are already happening, and technology shifts that many people would rather not acknowledge.

The first cloned-to-order pet sold in the US was a kitten delivered this year at a cost of $50,000. Prized cattle are being cloned for about $20,000 each, and researchers are regularly cloning mice, rabbits, goats, pigs, horses, and even some endangered species. Several teams around the world are racing to create the first cloned monkey.

In the US today, pigs are being grown with human blood in their veins. There are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. Mice with human brain cells are already being studied . These are the products of research in which human stem-cells are added to developing animal fetuses. Biologists call these hybrid animals "chimeras", after the mythical Greek creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail.

Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how nascent human cells and organs mature and interact. Particularly worrisome are the nightmare scenarios that could arise from the mixing of human brain cells: What if a human mind somehow got trapped inside a sheep's head? A few human cells don't make an animal human. But what if it's 10%, or 50%? HG Wells' 1896 book: "The Island of Dr. Moreau" was indeed prophetic.

Researchers across the world are developing chimeras to better study human diseases, or to create more viable organs for people needing transplants. Some of this work is already uncovering new secrets of human biology and pointing the way toward amazing medical treatments.

But questions continue to rise from ethicists, religious groups, and even other biomedical researchers, about the limitations that should be set.

Everyone knows that human clones are a small step away. Human cloning has openly been achieved only at the microscopic embryo stage, but this is fuelling endless debate - whether or not it is morally problematic and even reprehensible. Indeed, there is already a bill in Congress to ban human cloning. We should recognize pragmatically that if this bill becomes law, human cloning will simply move forward in many other countries.

See the movie "The Island" now in theaters. In the near future, two human clones escape from a secret institution after discovering that their real purpose is to grow spare parts for rich and famous humans who pay $5 million to be cloned.

Welcome to the moral minefield of human-animal chimeras and human cloning. Stay tuned....

Click Human evolution at the crossroads

Click Movie 'The Island' poses question: Do you want a clone?

Click Washington Post - Of Mice, Men and In-Between

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Dick Caro [RCaro@CMC.us] was amused by my being complaints about watching TV commercials. He tells us about his invention to skip commercials while watching video recordings:
    "In the late 1990's while working at Arthur D. Little, I had the leadership of a project to create the technology to record the instance of commercials on videotape during time-shift recording. When playing back the tape on a suitable VCR, it automated the Fast-Forward button substituting a blue screen which lasted only a few seconds since the Fast-Forward speed was typically 4-10 times viewing speed.

    "My name is on US patents 5,692,093(1996) and 5,455,630(1995), for this invention, called "Commercial-Free". The patents were for the detection of the commercials from streaming broadcast TV, and the methods of marking the videotapes during the recording process. The technology was licensed by all the VCR suppliers and by TIVO. It is implemented in most of the top of the line VCRs, but TIVO decided that it was too controversial to include and didn't use it.

    "Working on this "automation" project required learning the details of video recording technology. We also experimented with many hours of recorded video to learn how to reliably isolate the commercials. This was not exactly the topic of any of my control engineering classes in college. But it was a fun project."

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Christian Rey [christian.rey@m4am.net] comments about Tom Friedman's reference to the short European work-week, while Chinese and Indians work long hours:
    "The comments about France's 35 hour work-week seems to me to be short-minded: focusing on the surface of things and not on the root causes or the real reasons.

    "The American way of life is far from being a reference for many people around the world, and us in particular, in Europe. We are not blindly obsessed by success and money. We have a different definition for success: for us it means living comfortably with a good balance of work, family, intellectual, social and political activities.

    "As part of our principles, this definitely include solidarity with less lucky people, here in Europe and also elsewhere, like in Africa. Caring for these people is just a way to get good conscience, but as part of our institutions. As a % of GDP, for instance, most countries in Europe are giving much more to help Africa than the US does. Work is just a way to implement this philosophy. In no way are we interested in making money for the sole purpose of making money, and our bank accounts are definitely not a "metric" for success, as it seems to be in the US.

    "Friedman's article suggests that if we work 35 hours a week, it's because we are lazy or something similar. That's what it seems on the surface. The decision to work 35-hours per week in France is in line with our philosophy of solidarity. It was dictated by the desire to create jobs for the unemployed while improving the work-life balance of French citizens. Remember that we moved to 40 hours per week in 1936. 70 years later, don’t you think it's about time that so-called developed countries start to reconsider things and ask themselves the question, 'What is the real reason why are we working?' or 'Is it normal that so many people and countries are starving?'. We should realize that this 35 hours 'sacrifice' doesn't affect our standard of living too much, while it helps the community.

    "We consider that a country like the US, with it wealth and productivity should be able to do the same, and maybe more. America is supposedly the most developed country in the world, and yet an American worker has only 2 weeks per year vacation. I wonder what 'developed' means... If you worked a shorter work-week, a lot of opportunities would probably be created and fewer people would suffer, including in your country and in the underdeveloped world. Anyway, this was the philosophy behind the 35-hours workweek. Not what Friedman suggested.

    "We recognize and enjoy the fact that China, India and to-morrow (I hope) Africa are exploding. They work 60/70 hours a week, as we did in the 19th century. No problem about that: they are unfortunately a bit late going through the same logic that we did 150 years ago. We recognize that this jeopardizes our standard of living, because we will have to do now what we haven't done for decade: share some of our wealth with them. Fine. We should be able to manage this transition with courage. Difficulty is not a reason to give up."

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David Norris [norris_3845@yahoo.com] sent this feedback about my recent article on the decline of exhibitions:
    "I read your article about the size of exhibitions decreasing. You are, obviously, correct in that observation. However, I think you are looking at the wrong reasons.

    "To give you some background about me, I worked for Bailey Controls for 17 years. I made many presentations at the shows you have indicated and did a lot of booth duty over the years. However, the business in the US has changed dramatically over the last few years.

    "First, there just are not as many people doing control engineering in the field any more. In Houston, most of the large E&C organizations have outsourced the detailed engineering on control systems either to the vendors or to their Indian divisions. They no longer make technical choices, the simply look for the cheapest supplier. All that is left in those organization is managers who do not have the knowledge to make technical comparisons at a show.

    "Customers have outsourced. Companies like DuPont and Dow have vastly reduced their in-house engineering staff and now outsource as well. Keeping costs down is king. The implicit understanding is that controls is a commodity and that product differentiation is insignificant compared to price. And, by the way, the rush to standards supports this. I mean, if all systems are S88 compliant or IE3 1l34 compliant, then aren't they really the same? I am being sarcastic, but to the manager this is sound reasoning).

    "And the vendors have outsourced too. For example, most of Emerson's engineering is done in India and ABB is now outsourcing to its Mexico division. Since they are locked into their own control systems there is no reason for them to comparison-shop either.

    "Secondly, the few companies left who do engineering are doing so with a transient workforce. Companies hire scads of contractors, execute a job, and then lay them off. Why invest in educating your engineers if they are not going to be around?

    "And, finally, the whole sales approach has radically changed. Twenty years ago companies sold to engineers. And, they sold on the basis of technical excellence or innovation. Today, sales are made to managers, many of them not even engineers. For example, Emerson sells in the pharmaceutical industry mainly to validation management. They understand, correctly, that the power in the pharmaceutical industry lies with the regulatory authorities and those that interface with them. These people would never go to an ISA show. Why should they? They are not technically competent in the control area.

    "The above represents my opinions. Of course, the ISA did not help itself through its greed. But, I think where it mainly hurt itself was that it did not defend the profession. Whether they could have made a difference or not I do not know. But, they never tried."

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