JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 30 : January 17, 2001

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

  • Amazing new invention - what is it?
  • The Microsoft DOJ Story : The Whole Truth
  • Tech Review : Robot Design
  • New Book : The Quantum Brain
  • Future of the Internet
  • eFeedback - View 2001, Geek-pride week

Amazing new invention - what is IT??

Here is something exciting, that has kept me awake at night, wondering.....

A recent invention by a noted inventor, 49-year-old scientist Dean Kamen, is generating excitement and mystery. "IT", is so extraordinary, that it has drawn the attention of technology visionaries Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Steve Jobs (Apple) and the investment dollars of pre-eminent Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr, and Credit Suisse First Boston, among others. Those who have seen the two prototypes have been variously amazed, delighted, surprised and awestruck. Jeff Bezos is reported to have snorted uncontrollably (his laugh sounds like a pig snorting).

Kamen, who was just awarded the National Medal of Technology (the highest such award in the US) has been called "a combination of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison". John Doerr, of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, the noted VC who funded the launch of companies like Sun, Lotus, Compaq and Netscape, says that he had been sure that he wouldn't see the development of anything in his lifetime as important as the World Wide Web - until he saw IT. Another investor, Credit Suisse First Boston, expects Kamen's invention to make more money in its first year than any start-up in history, predicting Kamen will be worth more in five years than Bill Gates. Jobs told Kamen that IT would be as significant as the PC (high praise indeed from Jobs, who feels that he originated the PC).

The ''core technology and its implementations'' will, according to Kamen, ''have a big, broad impact not only on social institutions but some billion-dollar old-line companies.'' IT will ''profoundly affect our environment and the way people live worldwide. It will be an alternative to products that are dirty, expensive, sometimes dangerous and often frustrating, especially for people in the cities.''

What has Kamen built? Few people know - but it is clearly not a hoax. Whatever it is, we will probably not find out until 2002, which is when Kamen says he'll unveil it. In the meantime, most people are simply speculating - it is perhaps a self-propelled, non-polluting scooter that will do away with energy, parking and pollution problems all in one swoop, built using technology borrowed from Kamen's previous invention, the iBot chair.

Click Read the ZDNET story and speculation about IT

Click Here is the Bio of inventor Dean Kamen

Click Read about Kamen's iBOT wheelchair

If you have any ideas about what IT might be, do tell.....

Microsoft DOJ battle : the whole story

The Microsoft antitrust battle with the Dept. of Justice has dragged on and almost as boringly as the "chad count" - which at least ended with a tight deadline. The Microsoft case remains to be settled by the Supreme Count, perhaps tarnished by their partisan election-ruling. Will the pro-business new President Bush intervene? Will Microsoft escape break-up?

Whatever side you're on (anti-Gates, or anti-Government-meddling) you MUST read the complete and grisly story in the November '00 issue of WIRED Magazine. It is entitled "The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth" - and lives up to that name. I followed the story closely while it was happening - but this gave me insights beyond anything I might have imagined. Here are some quotes, to pique your interest :

  • "Gates was going through a period where he kept saying : "I hate my job. I hate my life. I hate this situation. I don't know what to do!"

  • At a board meeting, "where Gates was normally condescending and sometimes cruel, now he was seized by unbridled self-pity. The DOJ was demonizing him. The press hated him. His rivals were conspiring to take him down. His enemies were legion. His defenders mute. Gates eyes reddened. "The whole thing is crashing in on me!" he said. And with that, the richest man in the world fell silent, and began to cry."

  • "Vindication will be bitter-sweet. Now, either the decision stands, and people think we are criminals, or it's overturned, and people will think we somehow got away. No vindication will erase the stain!"

You don't have to look for back-issues of Wired to read the whole text of this important and poignant story. You can read it on the web.

Click The Microsoft Story The Whole Truth

If you enjoy poetry, take a look at my Nov. 99 doggerel verse

Click Pinto Poetry : "The Legal Mugging of Microsoft"

Tech Review : Robot Design

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

Click MIT Review : Tech 10

In the past couple of eNews, we've been considering the Sony AIBO and Humanoid SDR-3X robots. So, now I thought that we might think a little more about one of the key technology trends highlighted : Robot Design.

Robot builders make a convincing case that in 2001, robots are where personal computers were in 1980 - poised to break into the marketplace as common tools and consumer products performing life's tedious chores. One big obstacle remains: Making robots smart enough to adapt readily to different tasks and physical environments, the way human beings do, is difficult and expensive. That's the reason why robotics have, so far, found a commercial niche only in simple and highly repetitive jobs, such as working on an automotive assembly line, or mass-producing identical items, such as toys. The challenge for builders of robots is to build more complexity into them without the huge investment of custom-tailoring each robot for a different task.

Click Take a look at the MIT Tech-Review article on Robot design

Book : The Quantum Brain

eSpeaking of intelligent robotics, and how advanced synthetic intelligence might operate, I must mention a new book (to be published February 2001) that tech-visionary George Gilder claims is "the best, most exciting book I have read in ten years!"

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, physicist, psychiatrist and eminent psychoanalyst, "The Quantum Brain" examines the convergence of brain science, biological computation and quantum physics, and what it implies about our minds, our selves, our future. Do we really have free will or do we just imagine we do? Do we create our own destinies, or are we merely machines? Will the machines we are now making themselves have free will? To answer these fundamental questions, Satinover first explores the latest discoveries in neuroscience, modern physics, and radically new kinds of computing, then shows how, together, they suggest the brain embodies and amplifies the mysterious laws of quantum physics. The mind is not a machine, and simply building bigger and faster logic machines is not the same as creating minds.

Satinover makes two provocative predictions: We will soon construct artificial devices as free and aware as we are; and we will begin a startling re-evaluation of just who and what we are, of our place in the universe. Satinover shows the possibility of silicon devices so dynamic and with powers of perception so great, that by interacting with the world they not only “learn” (expert systems do that today), but also optimize their own circuitry as a result, just as the “wetware” circuits in our own brains rewire themselves when we learn a new skill.

Click Amazon reviews of The Quantum Brain

Future of the Internet

The World Future Organization's FUTURE SURVEY recently took a look at the future of the Internet, distilling forecasts from several sources. Here are some of the highlights :

  • Information sharing will make consumers more powerful. Instead of relying on advertisements, people will read other customers' reviews of competing products and pool purchasing power.
  • Sharing full-immersion virtual-reality environments by 2030. Billions of communicating nanobots inside our bodies will receive and send signals directly to our neurons, switching us instantly from real reality to virtual reality.
  • Digital libraries will replace physical ones and will be linked together through a Global Information Infrastructure.
  • Wireless handheld Internet access will be available to a billion people within a few years.
  • In a world filled with wireless communication devices, "electronic smog" (increasing exposure to electromagnetic radiation) could affect brain chemistry.
  • Awareness of "Cyberethics" will increase - the impacts of communications technologies on morality, anonymity, privacy, property ownership, citizenship, and democracy.

Click Get involved with the Future - visit The World Future Organization


Reacting to my 01:01 on 01-01-01 click-time, Dick Morley, the Supreme Geek, sent in this proposal to Jimmy the Geek :

    "Any interest in Geek Week? To be held on 101001.11 (October tenth 2001 at eleven am. We could all wear pocket protectors...."

I had megabytes of comments on my essay :

Click View 2001: Growth in a Shrinking World

Helen Williams [hwilliams@iopener.net] from Grand Island, NY, (sensibly vacationing in San Diego) e-wrote :

    "Thanks for your thoughts on "Growth in a shrinking world" It made me think back 50 years to what technology was when my baby boy Frank Jr. came into the world kicking and screaming. Television was an infant also, but look at it's growth. What a thrilling world my children were born into. I am so happy that they have grown along with the technology.

    I am so thrilled that I am able to see pictures of my great grandchildren on the internet. I e-mail my children and friends all over the world. Yes, this is a shrinking world and communication is the key to a better world. I hope we are smart enough to take advantage of it."

Incidentally, that "baby boy, Frank Jr." is now President of Action Instruments in San Diego.

The Helfgotts (Norm and Jeanette) [luckynorm@home.com] e-commented :

    "It is difficult to see how one can effectively bring about all these wonderful plans in a world where there may be some who do not wish to attain these lofty new ventures. Where will the workers come from that will be able to support such new mechanisms and how can society support those that cannot take part in these new "revolutionary" industries?

    In order to bring about these wonderful new processes of communicating and conducting of businesses there must be great sums of money supplied. Where will these come from? How can underdeveloped countries, and countries that have difficulty maintaining peace within their own borders as well as with those that share their borders, partake in this new era?

    But, keep your good thoughts and excitement alive. You may be able to make it happen."

Mathieu van den Bergh [mathieu-van-den-bergh@home.com] e-responded :

    "I agree with several aspects of your article, especially that embracing change and quick response/flexibility are key ingredients for success in what used to be a stodgy, and relatively slow moving process control world.

    As for the small processing plants that go near the natural resources, and can be dismantled/moved, I have mixed emotions. On the one hand, I got myself a small plant, a 5 kVA generator, and moved it near my resources computers/home ) and devised a simple way to switch the house from utility to the private power plant in a matter of minutes, i.e. much faster than my UPS depletes. The estimated cost at 7 gallons regular unleaded (say $ 350 per month ) for "normal" operation of household, computers, etc. is not even that unreasonable in an uncertain California energy environment. Your statement would seem to apply somewhat in this case."

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