JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 72 : December 20, 2001

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

  • Soft solutions for hard problems (continued)
  • Struggle for the soul of the 21st century
  • Robots instead of postal workers
  • Human cloning - objective reviews
  • ISA InTech eNews - Pinto's Points
  • eFeedback:
    • The market has no conscience
    • Looking for the insiders who blab
    • Confirming Rockwell & ABB analysis

Soft Solutions for Hard Problems (continued)

Consider this - if the world was a village of 100 people:
  • 1 person would have college education
  • Of the 67 adults in the village 37 people would be illiterate
  • About one-third has access to clean, safe drinking water
  • 15 people would live in adequate housing
  • The other 85 people would live in huts and be hungry most of the time
  • 6 people would control half the wealth, 3 of the 6 would be Americans
  • Only 7 people would own an automobile (some would own more than one).
The majority of the people on this planet have always been poor. But, the situation now is different for 3 basic reasons:
  1. The numbers of poor are increasing exponentially - overloading the carrying capacity of underlying social support systems;
  2. The poor now have TV access - to view how the wealthy live;
  3. The poor have access to weapons that can produce large-scale destruction.
Anyone who contemplates the future should be concerned about the fundamental trends. These trends are rapidly growing in significance and colliding during the next decade in a way that will very likely make the world a very difficult place to live. Further, it seems that there is no significant way to resolve these problems before they become much bigger and resolution becomes much harder, if not impossible.

What we need is a new way to think. The words 'war' and 'crusade' are harmful: 'crusade' reinforces the idea that this is a religious conflict, which it is not; a 'war' is supposed to be won or lost, not just endlessly stalemated. We will have to find effective ways to combine hard power (military might) with soft power (persuasiveness and coalition-building) to be successful in this new kind of struggle.

Click Read "A Strategy for the future of humanity":

Click Forecasts from the Nov-Dec. 2001 issue of The Futurist

Struggle for the Soul of the 21st Century

Whatever his private morals, one probably has to admit that former US President Bill Clinton was an excellent speaker, presenting his message with conviction, style and empathy.

On 14 December 2001, Bill Clinton gave the 2001 Dimbleby Lecture in London, England, broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday 16 December 2001. In this lecture, Bill Clinton considers what is happening in the war against terrorism and calls for a long-term strategy to address underlying problems in the countries involved.

This lecture is significant particularly because Bill Clinton has an unusual perspective - very recent President, familiarity with US defense policies, plus personal knowledge of many key leaders of the different countries involved.

It's worth reading in its entirety!

Click Clinton - The struggle for the soul of the 21st century

Robots instead of postal workers

Sales of industrial robots have risen to record levels and they have huge, untapped potential for domestic chores like mowing the lawn and vacuuming the carpet, according to a new U.N. report.

The report said some 100,000 new robots were installed worldwide in 2000, nearly half of them in Japan, the biggest user. There were nearly 750,000 industrial robots in existence at the end of last year. This was likely to rise to 975,600 by the end of 2004. It was predicted that the number of robots used in tasks as diverse as assembling cars, cleaning sewers, detecting bombs and performing intricate surgery would continue to grow in the coming years.

In the wake of recent anthrax scares, can robots be used to replace postal workers? Indeed, there is huge potential to mechanize the U.S. postal service. Some 1,000 robots were installed last year to sort parcels and the U.S. postal service has estimated that it has the potential to use up to 80,000 robots for sorting work, although existing models are not suitable for sorting letters.

The vast majority of robots are used by the manufacturing industry; but increasingly, they have uses off the assembly line. Last year there were 3,000 underwater robots in user, 2,300 demolition robots and 1,600 surgical robots.

A big increase is predicted for domestic robots for vacuum cleaning and lawn mowing, increasing from 12,500 in 2000 to 425,000 by the end of 2004.

Click Robot orders rocket to all-time high

Human cloning - objective reviews

Most of us are aware that Advanced Cell Technology and other companies have recently cloned human embryos for the purpose of harvesting stem cells. Regardless of public perception and reactions, this advance will have major ramification in the years to come.

Of the multitude of articles available on this subject, the following are more objective:

Click Advanced Cell Technology Inc.

Click Scientific American: First human-cloned embryo

Click MSNBC: Human embryo cloning draws fire

Click Wired Online: Firm claims human embryo cloned

Click NY Times : Two cheers for human cloning (positive bioethicist article)

ISA InTech eNews - Pinto's Points

ISA (the Instrumentation Systems & Automation Society) publishes a weekly e-mail edition of InTech magazine, to provide the latest news that affects the industries InTech covers.

This InTech eNews includes a regular Pinto's Point - short and sweet technical & marketing items. Here are some recent topics:

  • The dichotomy of open standards
  • How to increase industrial automation e-biz
  • Become a new age infomediary
  • Think smart, be first, run fast
  • Guidelines for Growth
  • Chaos - A new kind of science
  • Beware when you look to RIF
  • If it ain't broke, fix it anyway...
  • Using unused computer power
  • Think global; go local
  • Fully automated factories
  • Nanotechnology: A new revolution

Click Complete Index of InTech Pinto's Points

InTech News is an added benefit to InTech's magazine subscribers. If you are not currently subscribed to InTech, and you want to get the magazine, as well as InTech News, you must sign up for a free print subscription.

Click Fill out the online qualification form for InTech


Regarding our discussion on "soft solutions", Dr. Jay Cohen [jacohen@ucsd.edu] commented:
    "Capitalism is indeed the best way to make money, but it doesn't necessarily follow that this produces the best quality of life. The 19th century taught us that unbridled capitalism creates huge social problems, yet we seem to insist on learning the lesson all over again.

    "Some think that the market solves all problems, but the market is merely a source of enormous energy toward the production of new products. The market has no morality, no specific direction, no specific goals. It is unbridled energy, which can produce positive or negative results. It has no social conscience or enlightened purpose. The market is an important source of economic motivation, but it will not by itself lead to a better world."

An Invensys employee reported:
    "Jim, this might amuse you. Today at work I was warned that management is keeping a watch on the company network to find out who is contacting you. It seems that you are hitting too close to home. They seem to be getting sensitive, especially when the word 'incompetent' comes up... They want to find out who is furnishing you with information; and also if they are doing this using company equipment.

    "So, perhaps you could warn some of your contacts to be careful. I myself contact you on my home computer."

Regarding my recent analysis of Rockwell and ABB, Steven Jennings [Steven.Jennings@indramat.de] from Bosch Rexroth in Germany wrote:
    "Rockwell has steadily been losing USA market share. I would have made the same decision about getting out of hardware components and getting into software. Companies like Allen-Bradley (Rockwell) have very high fixed costs and I don't think that the margins on relays and switch gear and PLC's is going to be enough to sustain them.

    "Whether Rockwell has the management and the confidence to go up against the majors in the manufacturing software sector (i.e. Oracle, I2, IBM, Ariba etc) is doubtful, but remains to be seen. They may be setting themselves up to be acquired by IBM - not by Siemens.

    "Siemens and Schneider are going for a soft model too, but Siemens is probably the only automation company big enough to do an IBM and sell both the hardware and the software.

    "ABB have been in trouble for years, with senior management preventing change and just papering over the cracks. In my opinion, ABB will be broken up at some point in the near future."

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