JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 60 : September 12, 2001

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

  • Anti-terrorism Technology
  • Digital Signatures
  • Camera Pill - Videos from inside the body
  • Human-animal hybrid
  • Discussion of A.I. the movie - Robot Love
  • eFeedback:
    • Microsoft.NET is revolutionary
    • Explaining the "golden handshake" phenomenon
    • Honeywell S&C pay reductions (text of memo)

Anti-terrorism technology

As we all mourn the tragedies that are still unfolding from the awful events of Tuesday, Sept. 11 2001, we must recognize that this was something that we all knew could happen. Till now, it only happened in some far-away place, albeit brought home though instant and vivid TV images. Now it has hit home!

The new millennium has arrived with realizations that awaken our deepest fears - we recognize the awful vulnerability of mighty towers as targets for terrorists. And we quickly recognize several more of our societies susceptibilities.

Wars that pit nation against nation seem outdated; all of the peoples of the world desire peace. The problem shifts to mad minorities who are willing to send suicide squads to destroy targets that cause maximum damage.

Anti-terrorist activities must now move into a whole new arena of prediction, diagnostics, discovery and prevention. Conventional surveillance must now be supplemented with new and different mechanisms of defense and attack. In retrospect, perhaps the only way to prevent the damage that occurred in New York and Washington would have been for fighter aircraft to be launched immediately to protect the hijacked aircraft and deflect their deadly intent. But, developing an infrastructure to accomplish that seems impossible.

The role of technology is crucial to any adequate assessment of the terrorist threat and the measures needed to combat it effectively. Key questions are: What part has technology played in the cause of terrorism? Does modern technology tilt the balance in favor of the terrorists, or vice versa? How effective have aviation authorities been in using technology and other measures to combat the threats? What are the problems involved in strengthening the weak links in the international aviation security system?

Click Technology & Terrorism

Click Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Click Biometrics - Pentagon looks to image-recognition technology

Digital Signatures

Digital signatures are now legally acceptable. Do you have one?

Digital signature technology stems from the need to sign computer-based documents such as electronic mail messages, or documents within e-mail messages. Signing an electronic document directly, in its electronic form, eliminates the need to put the document on paper in order to sign it. A key element of electronic commerce is creating a legal electronic signature.

Digital authentication systems are expected to become an essential part of doing business via the Internet. Based on a range of encryption techniques, digital signature systems allow people and organizations to electronically certify such features as their identity, their ability to pay, or the authenticity of an electronic document.

Click Introduction to Digital Signatures

Click Identity, Authentication & Digital Certificates

Click Technology Information Service digital signature links

Camera-pill - Videos from inside the body

The FDA has just recently (August 1 2001) approved a swallowable camera-in-a-capsule. The pill snaps pictures as it travels through the digestive tract. The device offers a more patient-friendly technique for detecting abnormalities in the small intestine.

The camera uses wireless technology to beam back color pictures of the gut as it painlessly winds its way through the digestive tract. The video pill is made by Israel-based Given Imaging Ltd. and is called the M2A Swallowable Imaging Capsule.

The camera pill won’t completely replace "endoscopy" - the somewhat uncomfortable procedures where tubes fitted with tiny cameras on the end are inserted down the throat. Initially, to be "safe" the FDA warned that the new camera pill must be used in conjunction with endoscopes, not as a stand-alone exam. Once good results are proved (the pill finds everything the endoscope does, and more) then endoscopy will sure be a thing of the past.

Click Look at the Camera Pill story

Click Given Imaging Ltd. website

Human-animal hybrid - has been attempted

Combining man and beast may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it's not. Amid all the advances in genetic manipulation, the idea of combining the DNA of animals and humans has already been attempted. Indeed, many scientists and academics are wondering how far it might go and what the ethical implications would be. If a human were crossed with a chimpanzee, for example, would it still be human? If not, then what would it be?

The first publicized case of animal-human hybrids took place in 1996 when Jose Cibelli, a scientist at the University of Massachusetts, took DNA from his white blood cells by swabbing the inside of his cheek. He then inserted the DNA sample into a hollowed-out cow egg.

Cibelli's experiment came to an end after a week of growing the cell mass, he told scientists earlier this month at a panel meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. This raised the question of what might have emerged had the cell mass continued to develop.

Click National Post article - Man-beast hybrid

Discussion : A.I. the movie - robot love

Whether or not you've seen Steven Spielberg's movie - A.I. - you might enjoy this discussion of the social, ethical and moral implications of robot love.

Click A.I. Discussion


Pat Kennedy, President and CEO of OSIsoft, [pat@osisoft.com] disagreed with Walt Boyes' analysis of the impact of Microsoft.NET on industrial automation:
    "I think you are wrong. I would suggest you should read "Introducing Microsoft.NET" by Gary S. Platt before falling into this trap of cutesy name-calling. Microsoft.NET is already revolutionizing the world of software and those that follow your (implied) advice, users or vendors, are doomed to same hell as the X-Windows, UNIX, Corba, Java crowd."

Moshe Weissberg [mesconm@mescontec.com] from Israel wrote :

    "The phenomenon of golden handshakes for failed executives occurs in practically all western style (capitalistic? free trade?) economies. It is reported, talked about and criticized, yet nowhere do I see any specific explanations.

    "Why does the board of directors of any sensible company chose to "award" a failed CEO with compensations which far exceed their employment agreements? After all, they know that these "bonuses" would be publicly scrutinized, criticized and otherwise damaging to their own company's interests.

    I'm no expert, but I'd like to speculate: Perhaps board members set up a pattern for their own time of departure. Perhaps it's a payoff to keep the executive from disclosing embarrassing information of matters related to external bodies (tax authorities, competitors, stock holders, etc.)"

On the same subject - a Honeywell employee (wishing to remain anonymous) sent me this:
    While Michael Bonsignore, the man forced out of Honeywell, is getting compensation of $9m (a deal made up of three times his $1.5m annual salary and $1.5m annual bonus) the employees of Honeywell Sensing & Control got this memo:

    Temporary pay reduction for non-factory employees
    The current economic conditions continue to negatively impact our business results. Because of this, we have had to implement a variety of difficult but necessary cost avoidance and cost reduction actions. Some of these contingency actions, which have affected both factory and non-factory employees, have included:

    • Budget control
    • Travel restrictions
    • Hiring restrictions
    • Voluntary Time Off & Voluntary Arranged Absences
    • Limited plant shutdowns
    • 4-day workweeks in some factories
    • Elimination of vacation carryover
    • Involuntary factory layoffs with recall
    • Restructuring - Layoffs without recall

    While these actions have helped, our order rates have not improved and therefore we must now implement another contingency action for our Non-Factory workforce. Exempt employees will be required to take a temporary 5% reduction in pay beginning September 3, 2001, and ending November 25, 2001. Normal pay rates will resume on November 26, 2001. Non-exempt employees will participate in this contingency action by having 3 days off without pay, therefore they will not have the 5% temporary pay reduction. Non-exempt employees should schedule 3 days of time off with their supervisors during the months of September, October and November.

    As factory employees have already been impacted by contingency plans that have included time off without pay, voluntary arranged absences (VAA) and voluntary time off (VTO), this current plan does not affect them.

    I realize this action makes it difficult for many employees who are living on a tight budget. However, this is an unfortunate but necessary step in managing our business during these tough economic times.

    Thank you for your continued support and understanding.

    Jack Nehlig, Vice President and General Manager

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