JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 30 : January 17, 2001
Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- 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
Read the ZDNET story and speculation about IT
Here is the Bio of inventor Dean Kamen
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 :
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.
The Microsoft Story The Whole Truth
- "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!"
If you enjoy poetry, take a look at my Nov. 99 doggerel verse
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- Awareness of "Cyberethics" will increase - the impacts of communications
technologies on morality, anonymity, privacy, property ownership,
citizenship, and democracy.
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 :
View 2001: Growth in a Shrinking World
Helen Williams [firstname.lastname@example.org] 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) [email@example.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 [firstname.lastname@example.org] 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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