JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 66 : October 28, 2001

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

  • Anti-terrorist technology - 6
    • Brain Fingerprinting
  • HowStuffWorks.com
  • Invensys: Leo Quinn new ISS Chief - but is GE buying Foxboro?
  • Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence
  • Never, never be the lowest bidder!
  • eFeedback:
    • Technology is not the only answer
    • Snail-mail will always be around
    • The decline of industrial-automation dinosaurs

Anti-terrorist technology - 6

Brain Fingerprinting

It is interesting to note that Face Recognition, the anti-terrorist technology discussed in our very first issue after 9/11, is now being installed at Boston Logan airport (where hijackers boarded two of the aircraft).

Click Boston airport to test face-recognition system

One of the new technologies being considered as a means to identify terrorists before they strike is Computerized Knowledge Assessment (CKA), or Brain Fingerprinting. CKA has already been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News, ABC World News, CNN Headline News, Discovery Channel, U.S. News & World Report, New York Times and in print and electronic media throughout the world.

This technology, invented over 10 years ago by Dr. Larry Farwell of Harvard Medical School, has proven infallible in tests by the FBI and US Navy. Unlike lie detector tests, which can be fooled, brain responses cannot be faked. Brain Fingerprint evidence has already been ruled admissible in US courts where it has been used both to exonerate and convict.

CKA works by determining whether or not someone is familiar with selected sets of words and images. Before they board, airline passengers are already being asked questions about who packed their bags, etc. CKA would simply be an extension of that process. The testing can be completely automated and is not subject to human interpretation. The subject's "computerized security risk factor profile" is evaluated.

Properly done, there would be no false positives and no false negatives. Some people (even good guys like Navy Seals or FBI agents) might test positive for specialized terrorist knowledge in the initial 10-minute screening, but adding additional questions and/or manual checks by specially trained federal agents would quickly clear them.

Not to be flippant about this, another interesting application for brain fingerprinting has been proposed - offering the test to O.J. Simpson. If he passes, he gets his normal life back and doesn't have to pay the huge civil judgment against him.....

Click Identifying Terrorists before they strike

Click Can brain fingerprinting protect us from terrorists?

Click Executive Summary: Farwell Brain Fingerprinting

How Stuff Works

HowStuffWorks.com started out as a hobby and has become one of the most popular sites on the web. This is the brain-child of Marshall Brain (yes, thatís his name - Brain). Millions of people regularly visit to find answers to almost any kind of question about how almost any kind of stuff works.

HowStuffWorks.com is just that - a web site that tells you how stuff works. It contains thousands of topics - just about anything that fits into the form "how _____ works". There is something for everyone at How Stuff Works - try it for your self!

For example, if you're still interested in our recent Facial Recognition technology feature and would like to know more about "How Facial Recognition Systems Work" simply click on: http://www.howstuffworks.com/facial-recognition1.htm

Here are two ways to get started.

Click HowStuffWorks.com Homepage

Click Take the How Stuff Works Animation Tour

Invensys : Leo Quinn is new ISS Chief - but is GE buying Foxboro?

Battling bravely to stay afloat, Rick Haythornthwaite, who had only just announced that he would assume departed Bruce Henderson's role, came back the following week with the announcement that Leo Quinn had taken the job. All businesses within the ISS Division now report to Leo Quinn, except Baan.

Leo Quinn (44) left Tridium, where he was the "President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa". This title meant hardly anything, except an honorific, at Tridium, a small (about 100 people), privately-held company based in Richmond, VA. (USA).

Interestingly, Tridium was started by technology visionary Jerry Frank, formerly from Robertshaw Building Controls & Energy Management systems which became part of Siebe (Invensys). Jerry Frank quit in disgust when he was rebuffed by George Sarney, the dour, uncharismatic chief of Siebe Industrial Controls (long since departed). Small world...

Before Tridium, Leo Quinn spent 17 years at Honeywell, most recently in Home & Building Controls. No one who is anyone at Honeywell seems to know much about his track record - good or bad. (If YOU know something, let me know). It seems to me that Haythornthwaite dumped the job on the first person that agreed to take it.

Leo Quinn quickly sent off an email to everyone at ISS (the words eerily similar to the one composed by Haythornthwaite just a couple of weeks earlier): "Ultimately, our ability to succeed rests on your very capable shoulders. Meeting as many of you as possible, getting your input and discussing our objectives, is one of my immediate goals. I also welcome any comments or questions you may wish to send me via email and promise to respond to them directly."

Hey, Leo Quinn may indeed be a good guy - give him a chance! Tell him what you think - send him an email.

  • Leo Quinn Email : leo.feedback@invensys.com
A senior Invensys executive commented:
    "Invensys has proven much better at acquiring assets than consolidating those assets into something more valuable than the sum of the parts. There have been some recent moves to address this, but it will probably be a year or more before we can actually measure the results. I question whether Leo Quinn and Invensys Software Systems will get that year."
Meanwhile, a Foxboro insider reported:
    "We just heard indirectly (through a GE owned company) that we now belong to GE. We are not exactly thrilled - GE is said to out source everything and they started checking serial numbers on all the machines today."
A UK financial analyst who reports regularly on Invensys stock, wrote:
    "Let's stay tuned for Haythronthwaite's comments with the 15 November interim financial report. Those comments could speak volumes."

Stupidity is more destructive than malevolence

In a previous issue of JimPinto.com eNews (12 Oct. '01) I wrote:
    How can I comment on the stupidity with which middle managers in large companies operate? I shall - in an article I have brewing: "Stupidity is more destructive than Malevolence!"
I have received a lotttt of interesting feedback and commentary on this theme. There were some interesting insights regarding a comparison between the results of Stupidity (the collapse of Honeywell and Invensys, for example) and those of Malevolence (the events of 9/11).

Malevolence brings people together. Since it is clearly and evidently "bad", it focuses everyone against it and reduces its own effectiveness. On the other hand, Stupidity confuses people; it prolongs and perpetuates its damaging influence.

Jake Brodsky [jBrodsk@wsscwater.com] sent me some insightful comments, which I paraphrase here.

    Jim, though I agree with the overall concept, I wouldn't call it "stupidity". In a large company, none of the people can wrap their minds around everything that's going on. So, ignorance and inexperience play a big part. I guess you could label that "stupidity". But it is really insufficient bandwidth and capacity at the top.

    Large, centralized structures require a particular form of maniacal dedication similar to that of Napoleon during the last years of his empire. Even with his untiring efforts, Napoleon didn't understand that nobody can do it all from the top.

    There are several kinds of intelligence: mathematical intelligence (theoretical), common sense (a sense of what is practical), and social awareness (cooperating with and motivating others). The third form of intelligence tends to be the opposite of the other two (though I really have no idea why it is this way).

    Managers need to encompass all three forms of intelligence. That's why good managers are so hard to come by. "Insufficient bandwidth" means that such people may be really practical guys who can't motivate anyone; or they may be theoretical geniuses who are unwilling to accept the limits of other human beings. They're not stupid. They just lack intelligence in one or two critical areas.

    The world of business is littered with the failures of people like these. Those with enough background (bandwidth) to understand what's happening leave. Those without such background go down with the sinking ship.

The interesting point I am still making is: The results of stupidity (insufficient bandwidth) are often far worse than those of malevolence which sets out to cause damage deliberately. One former Invensys (Foxboro) employee sent me this example:
    "I could not agree with you more about this. A regional branch of Foxboro employed me through 2000. There had long been rumors that upper management desired to close our branch. In the early Invensys years, many decisions appeared to be part of a vast management conspiracy to put us into difficult financial situations and justify the closing of the branch.

    "However, as time went on, it became very apparent that no one in the management chain above us was even capable of the foresight required for such a plan. A deliberately evil manager could not even have imagined the damage that we witnessed unfolding in all areas of the company."

Never, never be the lowest bidder

When business is tough, some people feel that price-cutting may be the best way to generate business. But that is a loser's game - especially in the industrial automation business, which has a high level of applications knowledge and specialization.

Products and equipment are differentiated by the FABS (features, advantages, and benefits) that competitors cannot offer. When a product becomes a commodity (no special FABS), the differentiation that remains is quality, delivery, and price. Losers, or lazy salespeople, fall back all too quickly on price as the determining factor that wins a purchase order.

It is curious that some people boast about their products being the lowest cost. When hiring people, do they hire the lowest paid? When buying food, do they buy the cheapest? One would think that pride would involve offering the highest value at a reasonable cost.

Always remember: you are selling value. Your knowledge, your experience in the business, your understanding of the problems that are involved, your ability to solve the problems that will inevitably come up, your availability to help the customer when needed - all these things add up.

Click Read my recent article - Never, never be the Lowest Bidder!

Click This was just published (Oct. 2001) by Electrical Equipment Co.


Michael Tsoukias wrote this regarding our coverage of anti-terrorist technology:
    "I must protest the idea that technology will save us from terrorism. Technology is but a means; success or failure depends on its use. So far, we have had little debate and even less action on the unacceptable failures of our already enormous security services.

    "The new security measures at airports attempt to cover a decade of incompetence and negligence by taking it out on passengers. Until there is a full, public accounting from all those who so spectacularly failed to protect us, despite their astronomical budgets, no amount of technology will do any good, nor will public confidence ever be restored. Instead it will make our life worse as the same agencies use gadgets to interfere even more into our lives."

When I suggested that "snail mail" may soon become extinct, Doug Bailey [cmbailey@flash.net] protested :
    "Jim, I think you are reaching a bit. You have a technology bias and are seldom objective where technology is concerned.

    "New technology has undoubtedly made the world a better (although more complex) place. But, you cannot simply dismiss the large percentage of the populace that a) does not have access to e-mail, or b) simply has no interest, or c) is too old to learn. The grandmother in the Ozarks is unlikely to have any interest in the Internet and its myriad of advantages; but that doesn't mean she should be disenfranchised.

    "Electronic communication has its place - and likely a dominant one. But the "snail mail" postal system will still always have a place in society - albeit a changed one. In the foreseeable future you will still be able to mail a $2 bill to your granddaughter for her 2nd birthday, or a special card that has popup candles.

    "You may love technology, use technology, promote technology. But, don't lose sight of the shortcomings. And, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!"

An ex-Foxboro employee, now at another major automation company, wrote:
    "Your eNews is always great - keep it coming! I pass them on to many of my colleges around the world.

    "Some years ago you wrote an article about "The Mating Dance of Dinosaurs" making the analogy between dinosaurs and DCS companies. Today, it looks like more of those dinosaurs are becoming extinct. I just hope the dinosaur I work for today does not suffer the same fate. There were twelve ugly sisters when you wrote that article. I feel that there will only be four or five left when this is all over.

    "Soon, the ISA show will only have 5 booths in it - 5 very, very big booths. Maybe the ISA is another dinosaur that will die a slow death. What do you think?"

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