JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 187 : 25 July 2005

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

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Here comes booming India

The 21st Century will see the emergence of China and India as world powers, with GDP second only to that of America - surpassing Japan, Germany, UK, France and Italy. Today China ranks 7, and India 10.

In 2004, for the first time India grew faster than China economically - GDP went up by more than 8% and is now about $3,000 per capita; China's GDP is about $5,000 per capita, but India is catching up fast.

Many experts think that India, not China, is the coming giant of the 21st century. And India, unlike China, has no history of imperialism or inclination to global domination.

The key difference between the economies of the two countries is China's dependence on manufacturing exports, while India focuses on the service sector.

With its low-wage economy and massive manpower, China exports more than $500 billion (including more than $125 billion to the US). But in coming decades, the growth of robotics (smart machines) will reduce manufacturing employment drastically. Like farming, manufacturing will end up being just a couple of percentage points of the global work force. China's workers will lose to American and Japanese robots, and the source of its economic growth with decline.

India moved away from the socialist economic model in the early '90s and is getting ever closer to a free-market system. And its economy is firmly rooted in the service sector. Almost half of its GDP comes from services. Because English is the major language, India finds it easy to serve US and UK markets with low-cost, high-quality services, especially high-tech.

India's middle class, now more than 300 million, are quickly developing purchasing power which is generating rapid growth from internal markets.

Also, India is not imperialistic, with no inclination to gain power through regional domination.

This was summarized from a recent article by Dick Morris (weblink below).

Click Morris - Look out world - here comes booming India

Click Booming India buoys Airbus at show

Click Aviation firms eye booming India

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The Invensys saga

Invensys seems to be chugging along with Ulf Hands-on Henriksson in charge. The latest news is that Lambda (power supplies, part of old UniTech) was sold off to TDK of Japan for $235m (£134m). On Friday of last week, Invensys shares were languishing at 13.5p, with market cap at £754 million.

Going back 5 years when Allen Yurko was CEO, Invensys' shares had climbed to nearly 400p, with market-cap of some £10 billion. When Yurko exited in Oct. 2001, the stock was trading at about 10% of that price. Yurko put the company into a debilitating, downward spiral; it has never recovered since. He departed with the dubious distinction of reducing some of the great names in British engineering to the muddle that is now Invensys.

Rick Haythornthwaite was appointed CEO in 2001. Then just 45, he had no related experience. Beyond £2.6 billion of disposals (selling off profitable pieces) and a hugely expensive £2.7 billion refinancing, he simply dragged the once mighty Invensys into further decline.

Haythornthwaite finally threw in the towel (exits this month - July 2005). We have still to hear whether he gets any further "golden handshakes" - at least, I haven't heard.

The ailing Invensys is now in the hands of Ulf Henriksson. He's more hands-on, and hopefully has a better chance of turning things around. Any upswing will fetch a better price from buyers, now sitting on the sidelines. Siemens, Emerson, Schneider, GE – there are very few farmers large enough to handle a pig of this size.

All this Invensys stuff happened in the last 5 years, and yet few people know the whole story. You can read the complete Invensys saga on AIN, Australia-based Automation Industry News (web link below).

Click Australia-based AIN - The Decline and Fall of Invensys

Click Sale allows Invensys to pay off more debt

Click Visit the JimPinto.com Invensys weblog

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Kryder's Law - disk memory doubling

Everyone knows Moore's Law: doubling of semiconductor processing power every 18 months. But, another law is at least as powerful - Kryder's Law: yearly doubling of disk-memory - ever cheaper and smaller hard-drives.

Mark Kryder is founder and director of Carnegie Mellon's Data Storage Systems Center, and now the CTO of Seagate Technology. He has been at the forefront of rapidly increasing disk-density memory and it's still his over-riding mission. Kryder thinks that soon the average person will own some 10-20 drives, tucked away in various appliances.

Many people think that holographic systems will be the ultimate storage technology. But Kryder predicts that hard-drives will hit the terabyte benchmark faster than anything else. The scenario continues to unfold...

You know, my first job in the US was in 1968, at Burroughs in Pasadena. I worked on disk drives with multiple platters about 36 inches across, rotating at high speed with multiple heads across each disk for fast access. This finished drive filled a cabinet about as big as the average file-cabinet. Those "giant" drives had about 50 megabytes of memory, considered amazing at the time.

Hey, I didn't "invent" the floppy; but I remember suggesting that we should develop a 6-inch flexible disk, providing about 100K of memory. This was a few years before "floppy" disks were introduced, with 360K memory. Then there was the 1.44 megabyte Sony floppy cartridge. This was when 80 megabyte drives were considered huge. Today, you can buy a 1 gigabyte card for your camera for under $100, and affordable terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) hard-drives are close.

Since 1956, when magnetic disk drives were introduced, the density of information bits/square-inch has increased about 50-million times. The performance of silicon chips have not multiplied by that ratio. Not to minimize the importance of Moore's Law, but Kryder's Law has produced similar results.

Smaller, high-density drives have created many new products and markets. Look at the success of the iPod and it's genre. Now tiny high density disk-drives are appearing in GPS systems, cameras, PDAs, cell phones and TVs. Without cheap drives, TIVO (and other TV recorders) would not have attained a significant level of acceptance. Indeed, the speed and breadth of Kryder's Law even outpaces Moore's Law.

This was summarized from an article in Scientific American, August 2005.

Click Scientific American Digital - Kryder's Law

Click Seagate Q&A with Mark Kryder

Click Soupin’ Up Magnetic Storage

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Conversations with technology futurists

I spend a lot of time studying futuristic technologies, the things that will soon have revolutionary consequences and are approaching ever closer.

You've head the expression: "The future is closer than you think". Well, here are three people I've been following, who are working on things that will soon make a difference - sooner than we think.

Biologist Craig Venter gained credibility when his company decoded the human genome ahead of US-supported efforts. Now, after studying the code of life, Craig Venter has a new goal: to produce life itself. The implications are revolutionary.

Normally, new life is created via reproduction, with each generation passing its genes on to the next. But Craig Venter wants to manufacture the genome of a single-cell bacterium in his lab, to be put inside a bacterium whose own genes are removed.

By creating such life forms, Craig Venter thinks that we may come closer to understanding what life is, and how we can manipulate this for the benefit of humans. For example, new artificial species could bring new ways to produce drugs, chemicals or clean energy.

I've mentioned Rodney Brooks many times - he's Director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Chairman of iRobot Corp. Now his mission is to move away from humanoid robots and toward the question of what makes something alive. Rodney Brooks is now trying to build robots that have the properties of living systems.

I've brought up Ray Kurzweil many times too, the technology futurist who believes that 25 years from now biomedical technology will advance to the point where it will be possible to halt the aging process. Seems screwy, by Ray Kurzweil himself (now 58) will be 82 in 25 years, and he's preparing himself for some form of immortality - downloading his intelligence to a computer.

Ray Kurzweil says that we are entering a new era which will bring the merger between human intelligence and machine intelligence, and this will create something bigger. It's the cutting edge of evolution; Ray feels that this evolution will continue to progress ever faster, growing the power of intelligence exponentially.

In an "Edge Reality Club" conversation, three of these world's leading scientists ask each other the questions they are asking themselves about biocomputation. Read the interviews yourself, and tell me what YOU think.

Click Conversation with J. Craig Venter, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks

Click Rodney Brooks book - Flesh and Machines - How robots will change us

Click Visit the J. Craig Venter Institute

Click Ray Kurzweil book - The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

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TV viewers are trained to multi-task

I've had some good feedback on my eNews June 23 2005 item on "TV Viewing Multi-tasking". Many people admit to being annoyed by the scrolling messages and lots of other stuff on TV news channels, which makes it difficult to focus on just one thing.

Every news channel tries to include more messages, as if fewer messages would prove their inferiority. The visual elements are all designed (one supposes) to give viewers what they want when they want it.

Some movie channels may not have all that multiple-viewing mess; but they still flash messages to let you know what movie is running, and then the name and time for the following movie, plus an occasional flash of future programs. It's as if the brief interruption did not really impinge on your primary viewing pleasure. After a while, you expect it. So they're training the viewers to multi-task.

And then, of course, there are the actual interruptions – the advertising. This is "time-division multiplexing" – interrupting one message to broadcast another. Commercials are, after all, the revenue generator and so no one can really complain. And the commercials are just 10-15 seconds long, trying to get a message across in as short a time as possible. And then they switch instantly to another, totally different message. That constant multi-tasking trains people to multi-task.

You've probably noticed that most programs start without commercial breaks for a fairly long time – to catch you interest and get you hooked. And then, as the story builds up towards the end, the interruptions become more and more frequent. It's like bait and switch. And everybody does it because everybody else does it.

Of course, TIVO allows you to record programs which you can watch later and fast-forward through the commercials. But, you can't just sit back and watch – you have to be alert enough to interrupt the interruptions.

One would suppose that buying or renting movies would allow viewing bliss. But then, you know, when I'm watching a recorded movie I get caught in my old multi-tasking habits. I find it difficult to watch without getting at least a break or two to visit the fridge and/or the toilet, or check my cell phone for messages, or take a quick peek at my email. Of course, I can do that simply by clicking on "pause". But I forget, and find myself wishing for a commercial break. Hey, I guess I'm trained.....

Click TV Viewing Multi-tasking

Click Distracting Visuals Clutter TV Screen

Click Emails & Multi-tasking hurt IQ more than drugs

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Teja Ulrich [tsulrich@t-online.de] from Germany comments on the EU contribution to the economic turnaround in Ireland:
    "While Ireland has undoubtedly seen a tremendous development over the last 4 decades, Friedman almost entirely neglects the essential key role the European Community has been playing since the early 60s - and is still playing today.

    "Friedman doesn’t mention that the predecessor organizations of today's European Union started pouring enormous financial resources into the "poorhouse of Europe" already long before Ireland finally joined the community in 1973. Only this funding allowed the country – among other things – to provide free education and to bring the Irish fiscal system to a level that made community membership at all possible.

    "Friedman also implies that financial aid by the European Union ceased to flow in the mid 80s. What he doesn't mention is that until today, Ireland remains the by far largest net-receiver of EU funding. While Ireland has the second highest per-capita income among the EU member states (here Friedman is correct), it still receives the largest per capita subsidy paid by the net contributors, mainly France and Germany with far lower per-capita incomes.

    "This imbalance allows the Irish state to extend all kinds of benefits, and to slash corporate and personal taxes to levels far below the rest of Europe, fuelling the still impressive growth of the Irish economy. It is a paradox, that countries like France or Germany, while struggling with low growth, huge deficits and unemployment rates, at the same time spend billions to fund Irelands capability to lure away investments and jobs.

    "It is this paradoxical imbalance that explains much of the frustration with the European Union that surfaced in the recent referendums in France and The Netherlands (which is by the way the largest per capita contributor to the European Union). People simply fear "another Ireland" with Rumania and Bulgaria scheduled to receive more than 44 Billion Euro (more than 53 Billion US$, and more than 11 Billion Euro from Germany alone) in order "to get ready" to join the EU in 2007.

    "If it was really as simple as Friedman suggests, Europe as a whole would be in much better shape today: high school and university education is free in almost every country; with financial burden more equally distributed across the European Community members, corporate taxes in the European heavyweight economies could be much lower and fiscally in better shape; global companies and global competition are all over the place anyway; almost everybody speaks English as a second language (except in France maybe) and a consensus between labor and management is a fundamental building block of what Friedman calls the "more socialistic European countries". Unfortunately it is not that simple."

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Mandar Phadke [mandar_phadke@hotmail.com] from India made a recent visit to China, and gives us this feedback:
    "I just visited Shanghai and stayed for a couple of weeks there for a project. Here's my two-cents worth, especially with regard to the India and China phenomenon.

    1. The airport that I landed at (Pudong) looked as good as Frankfurt or Schiphol or any other International airport. My colleague who had visited Shanghai about three years ago told me it did not even exist when he visited. He had landed at a different airport called Hongqaio (now used as a domestic airport). A sad comparison with Mumbai (India) airport which is really dirty and old (despite been "modernized" many times).
    2. Lots and lots of young people everywhere; you'd think everybody in this country is aged between 16 and 25.
    3. Excellent road and highway infrastructure - as good as roads in the USA. No comparison at all to Mumbai roads which are potholed, dusty, garbage-ridden and chaotic. Excellent telecom infrastructure.
    4. Hardly any beggars; however many people keep trying to sell you fake Rolexes, Gucci bags, etc. Definitely a more positive attitude than panhandling.
    5. Everything is in Chinese; no knowledge of English but everything is hi-tech. RFIDs and smart cards abound. Lack of an English education has not held back these guys at all, in any way.
    6. However, young people understand that their only weak link (if you may call it that) is English. I met several who work at night and study English in the daytime.
    7. Women "man" many positions which traditionally we assume are manned by men. They are seen at remote highway toll booths in the middle of nowhere, as well as security guards frisking male passengers at the airport. In fact there seem to be more women than men on the streets, in shops, factories and elsewhere.
    8. Wages are not low, at least not in Shanghai; when compared to Mumbai they are much higher. For example, a chauffeur in Shanghai earns twice his counterpart in Mumbai.
    9. A large number of local brands on store shelves, shows that the economy is not dependent on just exports to the west; they have a very large local market too. Quality is also very good, don't believe the "Made in China hence cheap price but poor quality" myth. There are in fact several grades of quality in Chinese products; the throw away priced ones seem to be the ones that are scrapped by the manufacturer as rejects, but picked up by unscrupulous traders and sold in overseas markets as regular items.

    "All in all, I do not think that China is in competition with India or S.E. Asia, or even Japan. They are in direct competition with the USA itself. As of now, they seem to be comfortably on the road there."

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Randy.Pratt@EmersonProcess.com [Randy.Pratt@EmersonProcess.com] comments on automation systems security:
    "Your security articles are timely and accurate! I am hoping that my customers read your articles on automation system security and consider the issues you raise.

    "I'm involved several times a week in a debate with well intentioned IT personnel trying to apply office network type security techniques to their control system. We try to accommodate customer requests as best as we can, but as you pointed out, many times the techniques you would use on an office network are just too risky on the automation network.

    "I hope your article does two things. 1) for any process system owners that haven't considered this aspect yet, that it will cause them to take some actions. 2) for any IT personnel that have been charged with securing a process system, that they take the time to understand that the needs of an automation system are different."

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