JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 25 : December 4, 2000
A new-age newsletter, published irreverently and irregularly by Jim Pinto.
Business, marketing & futures commentary.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Machine intelligence will equal human capabilities
- Newsweek - 2001 Tech Odyssey
- Matchbox PC
- Speech-enabling the Internet
- Book : Joel Kotkin's "New Geography"
- eFeedback - Bizarre Projects
Machine Intelligence will exceed human capabilities
In the latest issue of TIME magazine (Dec. 4 2000), Ray Kurzweil predicts
that within 3 decades machines will be as intelligent as human beings.
In an excellent and succinct essay entitled The Virtual Thomas Edison,
Kurzweil argues that by the end of this decade, machines will emerge as
remarkably powerful amplifiers of the human creative process. By 2020,
machines will be true collaborators. By 2030, available computer hardware
will exceed the memory and processing capacity of the human brain by a
factor of thousands. Powerful biologically inspired models will be capable
of simulating human thought processes and will ultimately operate at higher
speeds and with far greater overall capacity than unaided human thought.
Read the text of the TIME December 4, 2000 Kurzweil article
If you are interested in this subject, you might like to browse my
discussion of this subject as presented at Dick Morley's Chaos in
Manufacturing Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, April '99.
Pinto on Synthetic Intelligence
Ray Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines
Five New technologies that could change your life
The latest Newsweek (Dec. 4 2000) also had an interesting article:
2001 Tech Odyssey. With a time perspective somewhat shorter than decades, this
article listed the 5 new technologies that could change your life.
The Newsweek choices:
Read the Newsweek 2001 TECH ODYSSEY article
- Browser-based Video Games
- Transmeta's Crusoe Processor
- Digital Video recorders
- Streaming Napster with Friskit
Over a decade ago Action Instruments (the company I founded and where I
worked for 30 years) introduced the MatchboxPC which was awarded the
cover of CONTROL ENGINEERING (March '89). This was a small, ruggedized
industrial PC, built to accommodate the PC half-card format, with a 80286
processor, 1meg or RAM and a 50mByte hard drive.
Just recently, another Matchbox PC was introduced, a small board that
fits within your palm and weighs 3.3 ounces, taking up 5 cubic inches of
space - a complete, fully-functional 66 MHz 486-SX-based PC with a 340 megabyte IBM micro
drive, to run Windows 95/98 or NT, or Linux, with all the standard PC ports
and built-in Ethernet and runs off of a camcorder battery for up to six
hours. The price exactly matches the Action MatchboxPC 11 years ago - $1,495.
Look at the latest MatchboxPC
Even though I read a lotttt on the web, I still have magazines and
newspapers that pile up on my desk at home and next to my bed, and in the
living room next to my throne. I don't feel good about throwing them away
till I at least glance at the contents, and then I tear out the key
articles - and even those accumulate into an unmanageable pile. With
advances in technology, maybe soon I'll just have one paper - an e-paper -
on which I'll read everything.
E-paper - flexible electronic display material similar to paper will arrive
soon. It is reusable and relatively cheap to produce. Xerox PARC has been
working on its version for some time called Gyricon. It's a thin layer of
transparent plastic full of millions of small black and white or red and
white beads, sort of like toner particles. The beads are contained in an
oil-filled cavity. When voltage is applied, the beads rotate to present a
colored side to the viewer. Gyricon is electrically writeable and erasable,
can be re-used thousands of times, doesn't require backlighting or
refreshing, operates on low power and is brighter than today's reflective
Recently Lucent Technologies and E-Ink came out their version - a
25-square-inch display using electronic ink and active-matrix drive
circuits printed on plastic. Transistors in the circuits are made of
plastic and are fabricated with a low-cost printing process that uses
high-resolution rubber stamps. The e-ink enables the display's paper-like
qualities which include exceptional brightness and contrast under a wide
range of lighting conditions, easy viewing from all angles, low power
consumption, plastic film construction.
You'll soon find e-paper in digital books, newspapers, low-power portable
displays, fold-up displays and wall-sized posters. When? Xerox PARC could
have something available next year. Lucent's technology will take longer,
perhaps within the next five years.
Take a look at this interesting summary on E-Paper
Lucent & E-Ink
Still having difficulty punching typewriter keys? As handheld devices get
smaller, and even as they become more powerful, the constraint is often the
tiny keyboard. Speech is the most natural interface, and soon advances in
natural-language processing technology will allow us to speak to our
cell-phones, PDAs, computers and appliances.
There are already several excellent computer speech-recognition tools available:
IBM VIAVOICE for the PC and MAC
Kurzweil's technology became part of Lernout & Hauspie
Both of these are excellent and relatively inexpensive products (about $
100). But, they are still relatively difficult to "train" (not speaker
independent, except for a few selected words) and are error-prone with a
Today, in some high-end automobiles, you can turn on the radio and summon a
particular station, or dial a specific number, all by voice-commands.
You'll find excellent voice-response systems already being used at some of
the major airlines and financial institutions, eliminating the need for a
human operator - if you have trouble, you can quickly summon a human for
Speech technology is becoming ever more reliable, available, inexpensive
and compact. Conversay's speech-enabling technology, which is both a
speech recognizer and a text synthesizer, is speaker-independent and
features a virtually unlimited vocabulary. Its very small memory footprint
makes it ideal for any number of embedded client devices, including
wireless phones, PDAs, set-top boxes, telematics (automobile appliances)
and much more.
Take a look at the the Conversay speech-enabling technology
Book : Joel Kotkin - The New Geography
From my friend Joel Kotkin, one of America's most credible and visionary forecasters,
the first look at how the digital revolution is changing where and how we live and
work in the bricks-and-mortar world.
Historically unprecedented forces
are at work buffeting cities, suburbs, and towns across the country. In this seminal book
internationally renowned economic and social-trend forecaster Joel Kotkin
takes their first full measure. Kotkin focuses on the digital revolution's surprising impact on
cities: their traditional role as the centers of creativity and the crossroads for trade and culture
is becoming ever more essential in a globalized information-age economy.
But there will be big winners and big losers among them, and Kotkin
explains which cities are best equipped to thrive and which are fated to
decline. He also identifies new species of communities:
Nerdistans-high-end, self-contained, office park-oriented suburbs, built to
be attractive to a certain class of techie, and Valhallas, wealthy rural
enclaves for information-age plutocrats.
The New Geography is a brilliant beachhead onto a subject that affects us all.
Hotlink to Kotkin's New Geography
Bradley Timm from South Africa [email@example.com] e-suggested that we
could discuss Bizarre Projects:
"How about showcasing/including some of the more interesting projects that
people are currently doing or have done? For example: I am currently
programming and commissioning a system which comprises of a 200 metric ton
remotely operated vehicle on bulldozer tracks. It is launched from a 150
meter ship (which has a large process plant on it) lowered a 100 meters
into the sea and then driven and operated remotely from a control room
onboard the ship via an umbilical cable. The purpose: Its a huge 1800 kW
undersea vacuum cleaner whose sole purpose is to suck up diamonds immersed
in the soil. I have found the project very interesting and others may as
well. If there is an interest I could elaborate, and security permitting,
include some photos."
Can anyone bring up anything to match that?
Regarding my item on Monopoly - the dotcom edition, and variants from
different countries, I wrote : "Of course, Jail is still Jail in any
country" and David Leske [firstname.lastname@example.org] from Foxboro, Australia
e-pointed out :
"In Australia and UK, "Jail" is spelt "Gaol". As they say, "English is a
funny language", and "British and Americans are two peoples separated by a
common language". Australians have a little of each, and may get to act as
interpreters between them!"
Whoops! Sorry, mate! Do we still have to pay to get out of Gaol
immediately, or rot in there for three turns?
My friend, Bud Keyes, [Bud.Keyes@FRCO.com] - one of the key strategic
thinkers at Emerson - wrote about wearable computers:
"Why write information on the retina? It seems to me it would be much more
effective to wire the brain directly. Surely this will be feasible
sometime in the next 20 years. It would allow the direct communication of
multimedia using ALL the senses rather than trying to translate these
senses into visual proxies and push this bandwidth through the bottleneck
of visual processing."
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