JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 29 : January 12, 2001

Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
Stay e-tuned....

  • View 2001: Growth in a Shrinking World
  • Technology Trends - Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Sony's Humanoid Robot-toy
  • Las Vegas Consumer Show
  • Internet Growth
  • More on Rockwell Directions
  • More on eBooks - Download Audio-books
  • eFeedback - 01-01-01, Robots, Extropy

View 2001: Growth in a shrinking world

In the blink of an eye we have fast-forwarded to the brink of a New Year, a new century and a new millennium.

In this new age, the people who win will be, not scared, but excited about the technology tools that emerge and the new effectiveness and opportunities for growth that this will bring in a shrinking world.

My new article : Growth in a Shrinking World was published in the ISA magazine InTech, December 2000.

The full-length article was published in Industrial Controls Intelligence & Plant Systems Report, January 2001.

Growth in a Shrinking World Read View 2001 : Growth in a Shrinking World

I'll appreciate your comments & feedback.

Tech Review : Natural Language Processing (NLP)

The Jan/Fe 2001 MIT Review Technology Trends listed their selection of the 10 most important technology trends.

Click MIT Tech Review - 10 Trends

In this eNews issue, I'd like to highlight one of their selections : Natural Language Processing (NLP). In a discussion on the Automation List this past week, several people commented on my prediction in the View 2001 article (mentioned above) that "effective language translation should be a part of every pocket PDA within the next decade or so". I'll publish some of the interesting feedback in later issues of eNews.

The 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey made the computer HAL 9000 famous - it conversed quite lucidly with the crew. Today, in 2001, that articulate HAL is still not a reality. But, it's coming, and the reality of HAL may not be more than a few years away - modern-day counterparts are catching up fast (minus, of course, the homicidal tendencies).

About two years ago, I saw Michael Dertouzos of the MIT Computer Lab have a VERY HAL-like conversation with a computer. Michael mention that the computer cost about $ 1m - so it certainly wasn't a PDA. But, with Moore's Law in force (doubling of computer power every year and a half), we should expect to have a similar conversation with our pocket-PDA within about 10 years. It may take longer, but it WILL happen.

Already we have commercial speech recognition software that can take dictation, speech generation equipment that can give mute people voices and software that can "understand" a plain-English query well enough to extract the right answers from a database. Call American Airlines on the telephone to find out a flight schedule, and you'll get a demonstration today!

A new generation of interfaces is emerging, that will allow us to engage computers in extended conversation - an activity that requires a dauntingly complex integration of speech recognition, natural-language understanding, discourse analysis, world knowledge, reasoning ability and speech generation. A lot of work is going on right now on speech-enabled "intelligent environments." The day is coming when every object big enough to hold a chip will actually be able to understand voice-commands - simply because very few of them will have room for a keyboard.

Speech-recognition to language translation - hey, that (in my opinion) is an easy jump!

Click Take a look at the MIT Review article on NLP

What will be Read Michael Dertouzos' book : What Will Be

More on Sony's Humanoid Robot-toy

In the last JimPinto.com eNews, we discussed intelligent robots and Sony's AIBO robot-dog toy.

Click Sony's AIBO - Robot-dog

The new Sony humanoid walking robot-toy was mentioned in an article in TechWeb News.

Click TechWeb Robot Dog gets a new friend

Sony Humanoid-toy You can see what the Sony SDR-3X humanoid looks like and review its capabilities on the Sony website. By synchronizing the movements of 24 joints, the robot can walk, change direction, getting up after falling down, balance on one leg, kick a ball and dance. It walks with human-like motion and talks (recognizes and speaks about 20 words). It can distinguish specific colors and will move a specific colored ball towards a net, move beside the ball, shoot the ball and recognize whether or not the ball has landed in the net. It can be operated by remote control using a wireless LAN card and you can simulate its movements on a personal computer.

Click Take a look at the Sony humanoid

Las Vegas Consumer Show

Once upon a time, the Consumer Electronics Show was about televisions and stereos. Then PC's came on the scene, along with cell phones and other "appliances". This year, in Las Vegas, PC's were almost passť, as big players energetically wooed consumers with Net appliances and other new gizmos.

Intel has an enormous display in the middle of the show floor, but not with PC's - with consumer products : digital-music players and web-cams and web tablets and personal-communications devices. That's not to say Intel is giving up on PCs. Indeed, all these of its appliance-like products require PCs in one way or another to operate. But, the new Intel products are also designed to generate internal demand for some of the company's non-Pentium technologies, including flash memory chips and power-conserving processors.

Microsoft introduced UltimateTV - with which you can record and store up to 35 hours of live TV. And Microsoft Xbox is a high-powered gaming system which will compete with Sony's Playstation-2. Microsoft was also pushing MSN Companions, such as the Compaq iPAQ Home Internet Appliance, and pocket PCs, such as the Hewlett-Packard Jornada 540, which run on variations of Windows CE software.

Click Microsoft's Ultimate TV

Click Microsoft's Super-game :Xbox

Click BusinessWeek review of Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show

Click ZDNET Review of Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show

Internet Growth

According to the Nielsen/Net-ratings, the number of U.S. households with access to the Internet is now 56% - well past the halfway point. That's more than 154 million people accessing the Internet, up 30% from the year before. At work, 39 million people have web access.

Click Nielsen/Net Ratings

Globally, there are now 407 million people with Internet access, more than twice as many as one year before.

Click NUA world survey

More on eBooks - Download Audio-books

Still like to curl up with a good, old-fashioned hard-copy book? Or, feel that you need the rustling of a newspaper to get you going? Here are some comments and ideas which might help you to think about perhaps buying an e-book :
  • The cost of an eBook (the information content) is clearly less than a conventional book. Compared to paper books, eBooks are faster, cheaper and "searchable". Some eBooks enable you to copy-and-paste, make annotations, highlight.
  • Once you've read a conventional book, what do you do with it? Put it on the shelf? Give it away? With an eBook, it simply takes up cheap space of your hard-drive.
  • Reading comfort : For text viewed at normal reading distance (11.4 inches is recommended by optometrists for reading) resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) should be more than adequate. Samsung has just come out with an ebook with 302 dpi on a 6.6-inch screen. Others will follow, and the cost will plummet.
  • Once cost and convenience is accomplished, what remains is "habit" - the "feeling" of holding the book in your hand. Hey, try curling up with a leather-bound eBook, or (soon) a flexible-LCD-screen "paper-back" eBook.

Now, this is all for reading text. There are cases where you want more resolution than the eye can resolve because there are other dimensions of information that you are getting - that's why film photographs still look so much better than digital-prints. But, that barrier too is quickly being overcome. In 2001, sales of digital cameras will overtake conventional film cameras in Japan and the US.

Click eBooks (the digital bookstore)

Do you still buy audio-tape versions of books to listen to as you drive or fly? Forget the hassle and high price of old-fashioned cassettes - downloading audio programs from audible.com is faster, easier, and far less expensive. And now you can download any audiobook for $2.95 and listen to it on your computer at home, or on your laptop as you fly off somewhere. Good selection of titles such as "Drowning Ruth" one of Oprah's latest picks, and "eBoys," an insider's look at Silicon Valley, plus readings of newspapers like "The Wall Street Journal" and magazines like "The Economist" and public radio programs like "This American Life".

Click Try the Amazon.com affiliate : Audiobooks

More on Rockwell's directions

Rockwell In a previous eNews, I mentioned that Rockwell would be spinning off Collins as a separate public-company - perhaps to give each more value, and perhaps to allow for a more valuable acquisition by someone like Siemens (who would NOT want Collins) or someone like United Technologies (who would not want Automation).

The December 8, 2000 letter from Chairman Don Davis to all Rockwell shareholders explains the Collins spinoff. It includes a clear statement by Don Davis that he will be returning to his roots, Rockwell Automation, which is primarily Allen-Bradley.

Here Don Davis' related statement, regarding his return Rockwell Automation :

    "On a personal note, I am very excited about returning to the Automation business full-time and look forward to getting closer to our customers."

Seriously, Don - I am not sure there is much more for you to do - other than sell Rockwell Automation to a bigger fish. And, I'm holding on to my stock, expecting you to do it quickly.....


I waited to see how many people would catch the date and time stamp on the last version of eNews, clicked out on New Year's Day : 01:01 (time) and 01-01-01 (date). Many people were awake, and did :

Nick Kelly from Australia [nokelly@energy.com.au] was the first in the time-zones as the world turned - he e-wrote:

    "Happy New Year and all that. Apologies for being such a pedant but I could not let this one pass. You said in your letter that you 'clicked through' at 01:01 - now that's a nice number. However, I would have appreciated it more if the time stamp on your email was in fact 01:01!"

Actually folks, the time stamp (in California) was just after midnight on New Year's day. For everyone else in the world, it was "e-editorial license".....

Regarding my article : Evolution of the TechnoHuman -

Evolution of the TechnoHuman Read Evolution of the TechnoHuman

Len Sorrell [lens@foxboro.com.au], also from Down-under, e-mailed this :

    "I read with interest the recent article on Technohumans and the direction you feel civilization may be heading and was discussing the concept with my wife over dinner. Women, in particular wives, have a way of coming up with a different slant on things. When I suggested that Robotics could be able to develop to the point where they can learn and therefore begin to make their own decisions and judgments and maybe in time do we humans out of existence, my lady simply said "If they look like taking over the world we will just have to pull their fuses." "

On the subject of Entropy and Extropy, David Bell [dbell.blueskies@home.com] from Canada e-meditated :

    "Entropy (and it's seminally Newtonian imagery of "running down" - Is it entropic for a river to run downhill?) needs to be offset with Extropy. "Chaos" is the opposite of "orderliness". I think when we come out of the other side of this dialogue, we'll come to the conclusion that entropy, extropy, chaos and orderliness are all about identity and identification. A friend once said thoughtfully that chaos might be simply the artifact of a disadvantaged perspective. I like that."

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