JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 73 : December 31, 2001

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

  • Futurist perspectives - Soft Solutions (continued)
  • 21st century prognostications
  • Rockwell Reality Regression
  • BIO-bugs - robots that learn - from Los Alamos Labs & Hasbro Toys
  • The wireless web
  • eFeedback:
    • Freedom is indeed the driving force for good
    • Kamen Segway - just hype
    • Some Invensys companies doing well

Futurist perspectives - Soft Solutions (continued)

The Jan/Feb 2002 issue of the journal of the World Future Society included a section where several futurists presented their view of the future. As a group, futurists' response differs markedly from the flood of editorials released by the 911 jolt. In general, they take a longer view; some see the terrorist attacks as a portent of darker things to come; others include a positive scenario, envisioning upside developments from the tragic events.

Here are some extracts, selected from my own perspective of "soft solutions”:

Wider gaps - wider conflicts:
The longer-term prospects are for widening conflict between the rich and poor nations, and for increasing destabilization worldwide. A system that routinely rewards the few who are rich and powerful at the expense of the many who are poor and weak, is a system that is programmed for destruction and eventual collapse. This will be the principal event of the twenty-first century.

Authoritarianism vs. fanaticism:
The time may have come to consider a strong, authoritative central regime as essential for preventing barbarism and fanaticism. One can only hope that this will minimize abuse of freedom.

Massive peace movement needed:
Dialog and global education to understand how others think, to respect other cultures, leading the way to healing and closure.

Winning solutions:
Instead of bombing raids, the US and other countries with large inventories and backlogs of unsold food, clothing and other consumer goods could airlift their surplus to needy countries.

A massive process of evolutionary changes - economic, political, cultural and biological - against the common enemies of disease, poverty and ignorance.

Don't call it war:
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. 'War' is outmoded - wars are supposed to be won or lost, not just endlessly stalemated. We will have to find an effective way to combine hard power (military might) with soft power (persuasiveness and coalition-building) to be successful in this new kind of struggle.

Civilian-based defense:
Instead of placing military police on every commercial airline flight, we must train passengers how to deal with terrorists. We must prepare civilians to deal with violence in everyday situations, to have a sense of confidence in making a mature response to any crisis.

Democratization of all countries:
We must somehow spur democratic governments and equitable economic democracy. Create self-reliant, ecological, electronically linked communities (not states). A transformed United Nations, with increased direct democracy.

Planned positive outcome:
To counter the growing divisions of rich and poor, we must have extensive actions to end poverty and despair, realize human rights for all, improve education and health care, fight global crime and corruption, develop democracy at a global level.

Click World Future Society: Futurist comments & insights

21st century prognostications

The first year of the new century and millennium has come and gone. On the surface, the world continues to turn, but there are significant changes and differences everywhere. Some of these changes have already been occurring inexorably over the past decades - the advancing of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock.

Hard realities bring the recognition that a new society is emerging: new demographics, institutions, ideologies, and problems. Things will be quite different from the society of the late 20th century and different from what most people expect. Much of it will be unprecedented. Most of it is already here, or is rapidly emerging.

Get ready for change! The new century is bringing with it enormous changes in all areas of human consciousness. Significant philosophical, ethical, moral, legal, sociological and spiritual questions must be answered, as we move forward in a new century and millennium.

My latest article on this subject is in the popular webzine spark-online, published on New Years day. I'll appreciate your feedback.

Click spark-online : 21st century Prognostications

Click 21st century prognostications - on JimPinto.com website

Rockwell reality regression

This week, as a stockholder, I received the Annual Report from Rockwell (ROK). Realize that when published this is already 3 months old (fiscal year 2001 ended Sept. 30 2001). Summary: 2001 sales $ 4.2b, net income 4%, declined from $ 4.6b and 7% in 2000.

Chairman & CEO Don Davis says it was the toughest year he has ever seen in his 39 years with the company (he joined in '63, as a sales-trainee). He seems to boast (perhaps to show that he can be tough) that he has "consolidated and closed facilities, realigned administrative functions and reduced the worldwide workforce by 9%". He pushes PLC leadership into the past (the '80's) and singles out Global Manufacturing Solutions as having had significant investment, claiming that Rockwell today is at the forefront of the movement to integrated services and solutions.

While he claims that he has spent "a lot of time talking with customers over the past year" - close associates suggest that Don Davis hardly ever leaves his "ivory tower" and speaks only with his "kissing cousins".

Control Systems generated 80% of revenue; Power Systems about 16%. With about 3% of the total, no one at Rockwell quite seems to know what Electronic Commerce is doing, though Don Davis suggests that it is "well positioned to meet the current and future needs of customers".

At a recent (Sept.'01) meeting of all employees in Mayfield, OH (Control Systems HQ) Sr. VP Steve Eisenbrown bravely invited questions from anyone in the audience. He was asked, "Will Rockwell be sold?" Steve, probably unprepared for this directness, responded spontaneously that the company would be sold within one year, and indeed that all existing management would be "swept away" by the new ownership. One wonders if anyone reported Steve's response to his boss, Keith Nosbusch, or Don Davis at the clock tower in Milwaukee...

At age 61, with no clear successor, Don Davis is tired and ready to sell Rockwell Automation. Here is the explanation of the "one year" - the split into Rockwell Automation and Collins earlier this year included a tax provision that, if anyone buys one of the pieces on or before 1 January 2003, they would be assessed an additional $ 1b. So, while the process is already under way, we can expect acquisition to occur only after that date.

Meantime, to maximize profits and increase the stock price, (and raise the eventual acquisition price) Don Davis is doing little else than cutting expenses. It is interesting that he did not receive a pay increase this year, from $900,000 (plus $34,053 other income), though he did receive an additional 330,000 stock options. Control Systems chief, Keith Nosbusch did get a pay raise from $ 350,000 to $410,000 (plus $37,397 other) plus 120,000 options. Not too bad, for doing some RIFs.

Remember the RIF rules? RIF#1 - liposuction; RIF#2 - amputation; RIF#3 - dismemberment. In my view, Rockwell has already engaged in RIF#2, and hopefully will not proceed to RIF#3 before the company is sold. Indeed, that would reduce the value!

Who will acquire? Only one of the majors can afford a purchase of this size. Invensys is already being sold; Honeywell/Allied and ABB are too busy with their own problems; Siemens (perhaps), Emerson (may be), Tyco or GE (possibly), Groupe Schneider (who knows?), Mitsubishi or Omron (never, the Japanese don't know how to acquire), Eaton or Danaher (if they are brave, or stupid enough). Perhaps Warren Buffet?

Click Rockwell Reviews FY2001 and expectations for Q1 2002

BIO-bugs - robots that learn -
from Los Alamos Labs & Hasbro Toys

Here is some exciting news for Chaos Theory, Complexity Science and self-organization enthusiasts :

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Mark Tilden has created lifelike robotic bugs that use transistors, rather than computers, to control their actions. The result is a hot new toy line from Hasbro's WowWee Toys called BIO-Bugs.

Tilden has basically used a dozen transistors to build a walking bug, changing transistors or circuits to change strategies. For example, you can wire up transistors to make the bug scared of light, scared of other robots. You can make a chicken robot that's scared of everything. By combining simple, elegant routines you end up with large-scale, complex organized behavior.

Based on "biomorphic robotics", Tilden's bugs actually learn and alter their behavior as they interact with the environment. BIObugs have 4 unusual features: they're trainable; they learn - become more efficient the longer they operate; they're animated and can interact with a child; and they can be rebuilt very simply with new behaviors.

BIObugs are designed so that you can open them up and mess with their heads - something every child wants to do. Toy stores are excited about the sales potential - BIObugs were big sellers this Christmas.

Similarly designed robotic vacuum cleaners might appear soon, with new models being unveiled at the New York Toy Fair in February. Some of the new toys will have more interactive capabilities. Children can download new transistor brain patterns from the Internet and build new designs themselves.

Click News-story: Los Alamos Scientist creates BIO-bug robots

Click BIObugs sell for about $40 each

Click Buy bug-building kits online

Click See BIObug 'Vivisection'

The wireless web

It’s becoming increasingly common: someone on a park bench, pecking away at a laptop. Sure, you think - probably writing a report or playing with a spreadsheet. But no - this is more than that - surfing the Web, outdoors and cable free. Anywhere, anytime Internet access is gaining ground as wireless networks owned and run by their users spring up in more and more places.

Although there has been some wireless access in places like hotels, airports and coffee shops, new cooperatively run networks are allowing more users to surf in outdoor public areas. These networks are set up by groups that provide Internet access by hooking high-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modem connections to wireless base stations. The base stations transmit the bandwidth to any nearby computer - typically a laptop or handheld-equipped with an antenna to receive the signal.

Click MIT Tech-Review: Unwiring the web


Cary S Hillebrand [carycnb@juno.com] responded to comments by Jerry Van Ee [jvanee@ppco.com] that much of the world does not really want to find out about freedom, since they are more interested in a decent place to live and be able to put food on the table everyday.
    "Look at many if not most of those countries where the citizens lack the basic essentials of life. You will find that the ruling structure is one of repression and tyranny, with whatever riches exist being are siphoned for to the benefit of a small privileged elite, leaving the masses to wallow in misery.

    "Examples abound. Nigeria and Congo are both rich, nay virtually overflowing in natural resources, and yet the standard of living continues to nosedive. If the populations had enjoyed "American freedoms and the warmth of its culture" these nations would be enjoying the standards of living and quality of life of Norway or Switzerland. For another example, Egypt and South Korea had roughly the same per capita GDP in the mid fifties. Why is South Korea, a country virtually devoid of natural resources, an economic powerhouse, while the economy of Egypt has remained stagnant? Again, compare the political systems for the answer.

    "Freedom is not irrelevant to our happy status, it is the driving force that permits us the luxury of taking for granted the ability to have a decent place to live and to put food on our table."

Ralph Mackiewicz [remccm@home.com] commented on the hype surrounding Dean Kamen's Segway:
    The initial skepticism I had about IT (aka the Segway HT) that was dispelled after seeing the iBOT turned out to be right after all; Segway is a pretty neat toy. But, a revolution in the design of cities? NOT! The only way that the Segway HT is going to revolutionize cities is by coercive government fiat. Kamen as much as admitted to this on Good Morning America when he suggested that "communities" (a euphemism for "local government mandates") could control HT speeds by mandating certain digital keys be used in different areas. If those same "communities" would only make automobiles, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, scooters, and walking illegal think of what a wonderful world we would have."
An Invensys (Triconex) employee (requesting anonymity) wrote:
    "Your commentary regarding Invensys over the last year has been right on the money. However, as a long time employee of Triconex, I would like to point out that not all parts of Invensys are performing poorly. Triconex sales were on target last year and are ahead of target this year. This shows that despite a parent company in distress, a product line that continues to deliver solid solutions for real customer problems will continue to succeed. There are some gems in the Invensys portfolio; someone just needs to dig them out!"
Pinto's Point:
And indeed, several diggers are digging, even as we write. Stay tuned for the new year news...

JimPinto.com eNews - on the web

If you've missed a couple of issues of eNews, or wish to refer to earlier items, please note : You can see ALL past issues online at :

Click Click here to see the Index of ALL past JimPinto.com eNews

eSpeak to me

If smell something fishy in your pond, please e-let me know and I'll check it out. Please send your tips and alerts, your news, views and stews. I'd like to e-hear from you.

If you have comments or suggestions for Growth & Success News, please contact me directly at : Click Jim@JimPinto.com

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

If you got this eNews through someone else, you might like to subscribe for a regular free copy, direct to your own email. Just click your mouse on :
Sign up for regular hot news, views and stews

Or, if you're lazy, simply send a blank email message to :
Click Sign-up@JimPinto.com
with subject line : "sign me up for JimPinto.com E-mail news".

To be removed send a blank email message to
Click eRemove@JimPinto.com with subject line "Remove".

Stay in e-touch!


Return to eNews Index Return to eNews Index

Return to Jimpinto.com Homepage Return to JimPinto.com HomePage

If you have ideas or suggestions to improve this site, contact: webmaster@jimpinto.com
Copyright 2000 : Jim Pinto, San Diego, CA, USA