JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 61 : September 20, 2001

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

  • Worldwide Sympathy & Support for America
  • Biometrics - identifying hijackers
  • ISA 2001 Keynoter discusses coming TechnoHuman era
  • Haythornthwaite fiddles while Invensys burns
  • Jack Welch book: "Straight from the gut"
  • eFeedback:
    • Human-Animal Hybrid - Time turns science-fiction into fact
    • Layoffs and Goldenhandshakes
    • Explaining the UK golden-handshake phenomenon

Worldwide sympathy & support for America

In the long week since Tuesday 11 September, the world has reacted with unifying solidarity. Together, humanity watched in horror as the graphic pictures unfolded on TV. The feelings of tragedy unified the global village.

TV is a one-way broadcast, stimulating viewers to discussion in small groups. But now, we had something the world has never had before - email and the web. The e-communications were continuous, empathetic and unifying. The steady flood of email discussions and web-links from colleagues, correspondents, family and friends all over the world stimulated empathy. This was a significant new source of grass-roots positivism for the future. A good idea or comment was quickly clicked to a thousand more eager e-friends, who analyzed it, digested it and contributed to its practical propagation that stimulated a thousand more.

People from all the different countries of the world have engaged in spontaneous displays of support for America after the recent terrorist disasters. Many of us relearned a lesson long since forgotten: that we are one people with more in common than there are differences. It quickly becomes clear - LOVE is stronger than HATE.

From all over the world, engineers on the Automation List were involved passionately. Ken Crater of Control.com sent this link which is a compelling and touching collection of photos of sympathetic and involved people all over the world:

Click A pictorial tribute from around the world

Biometrics - identifying hijackers

A curled lip, a furrowed brow - sometimes even a small change in expression can reveal far more than words.

Biometrics - identifying individuals by specific biological traits - will have a significant impact on airport security. As people pass through the airport screening process, and even as they board the aircraft, their faces, facial expressions, behavior and general demeanor can be analyzed.

Biometrics is, at the very least, a practical supporting mechanism for hijacker detection. Questionable people can be identified accurately, in real-time. Once selected, the suspect can be interviewed and searched, to eliminate the innocent. Certainly, no one would mind the additional level of security screening.

Thought applications in airport screening are immediately evident, Biometrics responds to many other significant existing and emerging needs. In society today, many daily actions require identification of the people who conduct them. This need will only continue to grow as more access through the Internet, more methods of conducting business and facilitating human interaction and more devices that enable this whole process proliferate.

Click MIT Tech Review: Biometrics

Click UC San Diego project: New tool to analyze expressions

Click Visionics: Software tools for face detection & recognition

ISA keynote speaker discusses coming technohuman era

At ISA 2001 in Houston, TX. last week (Sept. 10 2001) keynote speaker Jeff Wacker, VP & chief technical officer for EDS Global Industry Group, spoke about a theme we have been featuring regularly on JimPinto.com - the coming era of TechnoHumans.

Summary of Jeff Wacker's comments :

Visualize a time when people live to be 115-125 years old. They'll be kept alive in part by millions of micromachines - ultra-tiny instruments traveling through their bloodstreams to ensure all is well, automatically calling for medical help if anything goes wrong.

Also envision people shopping at a "smart" convenience store, taking "smart" packaged products from the shelves, and walking out without standing in a checkout line. The smart store will know who they are and what they took and will automatically check them out.

That incredibly instrumented type of world, inhabited by humans able to live much, much longer than today's 74-year expected life span, is not very far in the future. Biological advances are lengthening life spans with advances such as producing replacement organs, including artificial hearts, things that are already happening.

Click ISA website : Jeff Wacker Keynote speech

Haythornthwaite fiddles while Invensys burns

Invensys stock closed at 38.00p on Wednesday 20 Sept. '01, bringing market cap to 1.330b British pounds, or $2b. The latest share price and market-cap has always been reported on the Invensys home page - now it is conspicuous by its absence.

Meanwhile, Rick Haythornthwaite who officially becomes CEO on 1st October (his compensation package still not disclosed - if it is and you know, let me know) sent out the first of his to-be-regular memos to all Invensys employees.

The departing Allen Yurko is still poking his finger in the pie with memos to all employees. Perhaps he is protecting the few shares he purchased recently - now down to a fraction of what he paid. One would think his handsome pension and departure-perks should obviate that need.

Haythornthwaite’s first memo says he wants to "come up to speed as rapidly as possible to steer Invensys to higher growth, profitability and performance". He asks for "the commitment and energy of every person in the Group" and invites people to send him questions and comments:

  • Fax : (44) 20 7821 3709
  • Email : ask.rick@invensys.com

Hey, if you are a concerned Invensys employee, why don't you do just that? Email (or fax) a copy of this segment of eNews - let's see how many copies Haythornthwaite gets.

Will Project Unity go ahead in the way it was originally planned? Haythornthwaite gives a "straight" answer: "Unity is absolutely the right thing to do. However, it is also obvious that our exact requirements for Unity are dependent on the shape and future direction of the Invensys strategy".

The "however" is the out. In my opinion, as soon as Haythornthwaite recognizes that vital elements of Invensys companies will be destroyed by project Unity , and the divestment value will decrease, he will cancel it. Perhaps he is placating the still-around Yurko (who came up with this dumb idea) and will dump the decision when Yurko departs.

In the meantime, key Invensys IT employees have stated:

    "I'd be more than happy to be outsourced to IBM as it is a much more stable and secure company than Invensys is at this point. It's very difficult to work at Invensys now - we haven't paid many of our vendors for weeks now and will continue not to pay them until October. Many companies don't want anything to do with us."

Click Invensys statement (19 Sept. 01) response to share-price movement

Jack Welch book : Straight from the gut This new book (released Sept. 2001) has lots of interesting anecdotes and background by the man who brought GE into the new century with a market-cap that reached $ half-trillion.

Jack Welch established himself as one of the most-admired business leaders in the world and this book was written just as he retired - after closing down his last deal: the Honeywell merger. He gives a lot of background and fills in some interesting details on the brick-wall negotiations with the European Commission's Mario Monti. But, he doesn't tell much about why GE just didn't think Honeywell was worth it in the end.

Easy reading, with a lot of motivating ideas, comments, suggestions - and a lot of interesting commentary. Worth reading - buy one and read it!

Click Jack Welch: Straight from the gut


Regarding the eNews item about human-animal hybrids already being attempted, Mike Boudreaus [Mike.Boudreaux@akzo-nobel.com] commented:
    "What a scary thought. Science and technology is taking us to a time where pretty much anything is possible with the proper amount of funding and interest. One day, nanotechnology will make pretty much anything-imaginable possible. The world is going to be a very different place after the next 50 years. I hope we will still be able to recognize it. Time takes the fiction out of 'science fiction'."

Regarding the Honeywell downsizing and short-time story, Jon Point [jonpoint@today.com.au] sent this:

    "I once joined a company only to find that many factory-floor employees there were already working under reduced pay. As I arrived each day I asked myself that while the company was paying their management (and me) well, why did they have to punish their factory workers? Then the MD bought a new Audi. Then I left. Then the company folded and more than 100 good workers lost their jobs. Now the MD is a self-funded retiree (at 52) with a mansion by the sea!

    There's gotta be a law against it..."

Andrew Bond [andrew@abpubs.demon.co.uk] publisher of the UK Industrial Automation Insider shed some light on the golden handshake phenomenon from a British perspective:

    "There is a widely held perception in the UK that the situation has been made worse rather than better, as a result of the corporate governance reforms introduced by the now notorious Cadbury committee. Under Cadbury, a remuneration committee drawn from a company’s non-executive directors sets remuneration and compensation. In practice this means that executives sitting on each other's boards as non-execs effectively set each other's terms and conditions. Hardly surprising then that they all subscribe to the need to reward executives at what they see as 'the market rate'.

    "For the latest example of the result of this practice, in comparison with which Honeywell and even Invensys pale into insignificance, see the Marconi fiasco."

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