JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 89 : June 26, 2002


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

Contents:
  • Automation Update
    • Honeywell & Siemens may swap major divisions
    • JimPinto.com weblogs
  • Choosing genes will lead to significant societal change
  • AI software techniques used to fight terrorism
  • Another round of Enronitis - the dead mule parable
  • JimPinto.com website has a new look
  • eFeedback:
    • Dick Morley on Stephen Wolfram's New Science
    • Invensys (BAAN) press release scores 0.0 on reading scale
    • Programming a computer with 'Hope'

Automation update

Honeywell & Siemens may swap major divisions
This past week, we heard noises of some big news brewing. We thought you might like a 'heads up'.

Knowledgeable sources report that Siemens and Honeywell will trade the Siemens fire protection and building management businesses for the Honeywell process automation business (Industry Solutions - originally Industrial Automation and Controls, IAC), plus some cash.

This news despite new Honeywell CEO David Cote's remarks that industrial process automation is important to Honeywell. Insider say that Honeywell Chairman Larry Bossidy (who merged Allied Signal with Honeywell, ousted Bonsignore and became interim CEO till he hired David Cote) has zero interest to keep IAC/industry solutions and he planted that same seed with Kevin Gilligan and others on the board.

A knowledgeable industry observer commented:

    "Siemens has coveted Honeywell's industrial automation systems business for quite some time, and have made more than one approach. Siemens is off balance just now, given the business fall off and various re-structuring activities so I wonder if they have the guts for a big play like this."
Another industry insider agreed:
    "The move would makes a lot of sense for both parties. Siemens needs Honeywell more than any other potential player. Both have lousy systems and both need a re-do badly."
Last week, we mentioned that Ed Hurd (retired Honeywell old-IAC President) may be back working at Honeywell Industry Solutions HQ Phoenix. It appears that this is on hold, pending this Siemens deal.

On Monday, 24 June 02, a memo descended from Kevin Gilligan, CEO of Honeywell "red" (Automation and Control Solutions) announcing combination of Control Products and Security & Fire Solutions into Automation & Control Products, headed up by Roger Fradin who currently leads Security & Fire Solutions.

Bill Ketelhut - former President of Foxboro Systems, previously with GE-Fanuc - who headed up Control Products, which had been grouped with Industry Solutions for about a year, has "left the company", reportedly as of Friday, 21 June 02 - last week.

On Monday 24 June 02, employees at Honeywell Phoenix held a "business town hall meeting" with executive leadership to go over Gilligan's ACS plan as outlined in the memorandum. There was no mention whatsoever about discussions with Siemens, seeming to indicate that there was no truth to the rumor.

Pinto Point :
Gilligan's memo does not give any direct clues to the Siemens deal. However, 'downgrading' industry solutions - putting Control Products under Roger Fradin - seems like an an interim step, and still poses the possibility.

Please recognize that, at this stage only a few, very senior corporate people would be privy to a transaction of this nature. You simply can not expect any 'announcements' at this stage.

Look for lots of NEW NEWS in the next days and weeks!

Click Review ACS organization on the Honeywell website

JimPinto.com weblog - use it!

Use the JimPinto.com weblogs to read the latest 'chat' and review the breaking news on these important moves by Honeywell and Siemens.

If you have any comments, updates, news or views about Honeywell or Siemens, or from your own perspective, please 'blog'.

Click Honeywell weblog

Click Siemens weblog

Choosing our genes will lead to significant societal change

We discussed (eNews May 27, 02) that human cloning cannot be stopped. Technologies that allow control over genetic destiny will continue to be developed, whether they are banned or not.

Gregory Stock, director of the UCLA Program on Medicine, Science and Technology, considers genetic engineering to be just as natural for humans as other technologies we've created - just another part of our evolution as a species. His new book: "Redesigning Humans - our inevitable genetic future" has just been published (June 2002).

In an interview with the World Future Society, Stock explains how new technologies may be used to prevent disease, extend our lifespan and alter our social institutions.

Today the human birthing process is, at best, a lottery. In the future, germinal choice technology will allow parents to influence the genetic makeup of their children through screening of embryos, or making alterations of particular genes. Like cloning, this is like copying or modifying the embryo. Banning this type of development simply relegates leadership to others and impedes our progress toward improving the future health and well being of our own descendents.

The prevention of disease will likely be the initial goal of germinal choice, though the possibilities will soon move beyond the correction of aberrant genes and extend into dangerous ethical territory: how early in the life of an embryo is genetic selection and manipulation allowable?

Since there are no real ethical and social taboos against prolonging life, anti-aging is a significant area of interest. But, prolonging human the lifespan genetically could have serious demographic, social and political consequences. For example, increased longevity would initially benefit people in developed countries; but graying nations will soon need a younger workforce to support their economies. Another consequence will be a weakening military might, as the pool of young people to send into battle shrinks.

The subject of cloning and genetic engineering is difficult for some people - it brings up all kinds of conflicts - social, religious, ethical, moral. In this new century, significant changes are rapidly approaching and it is important to stay abreast!

Click World Future Society - Gregory Stock interview

Click Gregory Stock book - "Redesigning Humans"

Click Francis Fukuyama - "Our Post human future"

AI techniques used to fight terrorism

A significant current use of artificial-intelligence software is to detect credit-card fraud. Similar techniques are now being used for early detection of terrorist activities.

Neural networking techniques begin by analyzing a database, and using systematic methods to identify characteristic features, trends and patterns within the data. Such features can then be used to analyze fresh data and to predict whether or not it 'fits' the model.

For credit card fraud, for example, the software can study each incident to determine the crook's modus operandi and work out patterns to watch for. An irregular transaction prompts an alert. San Diego, CA. based HNC Software's artificial intelligence (AI) program for spotting credit-card fraud has slashed fraud rates by more than half.

Now, the same techniques promise to make AI solutions more accurate to find useful terrorism data. These include data mining (patterns of phone calls, for example) and distributed computing - running smart programs in various electronic information systems to automatically find and share patterns that point to potential terrorist behavior.

AI software can extract information from the reams of recorded video by converting pictures and sound into computer files. The images, text and voiceprints retrieved can be stored like credit card numbers or addresses. The database can be searched to see if a security camera somewhere had recorded the face or voice of a terrorist. As video surveillance becomes more pervasive, such databases may become more common. This technology was designed for media companies such as CNN that need efficient ways to organize and search their video archives. But it is well suited for terrorist surveillance too.

But let us hasten to mention - these smart systems can only help to reduce terrorism; they won't provide blanket protection in an uncertain world.

Click Image software could track moves of terrorists

Click AI - realizing the ultimate promise of computing

Another round of Enronitis - the dead-mule parable

The 1985 movie Wall Street is an emotionally powerful trip into a greedy world at it's excessive peak. The rookie (a young Charlie Sheen) ask his mentor (Michael Douglas): "When is enough enough? How many yachts can you water-ski behind?"

The response, the famous Greed Is Good monologue sends shivers of greed and shame up your spine at the very same time. This suddenly became Capitalism's creed. While basking in their success, many multi-millionaires seem to forget the trivial issues of legality, justice and right.

In the wake of the Enron scandal, lots of high-flyers are coming under scrutiny - doyenne Martha Stewart and her friend Waksal, CEO of ImClone are the latest to be uncovered for insider stock trading. Merrill Lynch was nailed for publicly promoting trashy, overpriced internet stocks that its own analysts were disparaging in private. Charges of tax-≠evasion against Dennis Kozlowski of TYCO something he has probably done legally before. But creeping criminality made him lazy and sloppy - he had empty boxes shipped to his home in New Hampshire, while sending $13.1m worth of art to his Manhattan apartment - trying to save himself $1m NY sales tax!

I thought you'd like this parable that has been circulating on the web. It gives one an understanding of the way of life now dubbed 'Enronitis'. Originator: Larry Myslicki, Plato Learning Inc.

Enron business school case-history

An old country farmer with serious financial problems bought a mule from another old farmer for $100, who agreed to deliver the mule the next day. However, the next day the seller drove up and said, "Sorry, but I have some bad news: The mule died."
"Well, then, just give me my money back."
"Can't do that. I went and spent it already."
"OK, then. Just unload the mule."
"What ya gonna do with a dead mule?"
"I'm going to raffle him off."
"You can't raffle off a dead mule!"
"Sure I can. I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later the two met up and the farmer who sold the mule asked, "Whatever happened with that dead mule?"
"I raffled him off just like I said I would. I sold 500 tickets at $2 a piece and made a profit of $898."
"Didn't anyone complain?"
"Just the guy who won. So I gave him his $2 back."

Click Newsweek (1 July 02) - Bad Boys Club

Click The Juryís In - Greed Isnít Good

Click Hey! You might enjoy my article: "Creeping criminality":

JimPinto.com website has a new look - feedback please!

Traffic on the JimPinto.com website seems to be increasing inexorably, beyond my original intention to have just a convenient place to collect all my writings, poetry and prognostications. Writing HTML code is easy and fun and I have enjoyed doing the website myself.

Most people seemed to have found JimPinto.com easy to navigate. But some friends and website visitors have suggested a more professional 'facelift'. Now you have it - go take a look!

The new website design was graciously provided by the talented artist and graphic designer, Surya Sajnani Pinto. Surya is the mother of my beautiful 2-month-old grandson Siddhartha, and the spouse of my eldest son David Pinto. Siddhartha and his parents live in Santa Barbara, California.

Click Go visit JimPinto.com

Click Email Surya Sajnani Pinto: suryasajnani@lycos.com

eFeedback

Dick Morley [morley@barn.org], PLC inventor, chaos-theory-guru, and co-author of the book The Technology Machine was not complimentary about Stephen Wolfram's book:
    "To be honest, when I first flipped the pages, I felt that this was old stuff. I came to a conclusion this was similar to Carl Sagan with his "billions and billions of stars". I was bored and did not watch the series. On the other hand, my wife liked it very much. Sagan was pecked to death by academic ducks for making science understandable and simplistic. He did not cover his explanations with footnotes. What Carl did was popularize science, which was a good thing.

    "When I read Wolfram's book, it was not a good thing for me. I felt it was egotistical - he referenced no one else's work. I personally have worked on this topic since 1986, and others before that, with a lot of significant publications. I have conducted 10 years of "Chaos in Manufacturing" conferences that discussed the applications of cellular automata. And yet, somehow, Wolfram seems to pretend that in 1999 he "invented" complex adaptive systems, artificial life and the wings of a butterfly. I am pleased that he does point out, as we all believe, the importance of cellular automata.

    "I don't recommend this book for my buddies in the business because I don't think it contains any real information. And I can't recommend it for the amateur because it costs too much and is difficult to read. Possibly the undergraduate computer geek can make some screen savers; but other than that, I don't see the importance.

    "Wolfram seems to have wanted to do this book. He will do tons of lectures; he will get press; newspapers will run amok with it and it will be a good adventure. The amazing thing is that a self-published book of this immense size is very high up on the NY Times non-fiction list - I think it is No. 1 at the moment. He may be remembered for doing that, more than anything else. This tome will certainly be purchased as a coffee table display!"

An Invensys employee (name withheld) sent this in :
    "I thought you might appreciate this masterpiece of English prose. It scores a perfect 0.0 on the Flesch Reading Ease scale!"

    "The new business unit is focused on delivering PLM solutions that provide organizations with a scenario-driven information continuum to facilitate collaboration both internally and externally among multiple roles, constituents and stakeholders throughout a product's lifecycle."

Click Extract from this Invensys (BAAN) press release

Mitch Carr [mitchcarr@msn.com] responded to a recent eNews discussion:

    "Your latest eNews had a section on a computer that was being "given" common sense - Cyc, I believe you called it.

    "I am not a pessimist by nature - quite the opposite - but in the context of intelli-silicon, you must be careful what you ask for. You just might get it. A computer programmed with common sense would certainly look at the odds of crossing the street successfully, the odds of contracting cancer and the estimated life of our Sun - and recommend mass suicide. Unless, of course, it is also programmed with that unique and invaluable human attribute: Hope."

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