JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 86 : May 27, 2002
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Human cloning cannot be stopped
- Newsweek: Wolfram & Kamen
- Industrial Automation update - May 2002
- Invensys soldiers on with expensive debt
- Rockwell - good news (earnings) & bad news (RIFs)
- JimPinto.com weblog: log your feedback on key topics
- More on "creeping criminality"
- Competitiveness is a result of upbringing
- Segway is flawed, Kamen is just a promoter
Human cloning cannot be stopped
In the 1930s, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World forecast a society
based on clones, with a population optimized for productivity and
happiness - humans bred for work, skills, administration,
leadership, etc. In this century, that prospect looms.
Major controversy has surrounded the advent of every human
reproductive technology, from artificial insemination to in-vitro
fertilization. These were also denounced at first; but then they
were adapted to serve human procreation needs and ultimately became
commonplace practices. Like its forerunners, human cloning will
happen - inevitably.
The '97 cloning of a sheep was a milestone. But, the prospect
that the same methods might be used to clone human beings has been
widely condemned by clerics, ethicists, sociologists and politicians
as unethical and socially dangerous.
Clerics of many different faiths attack human cloning as a violation
of God’s order; that same objection has countered technology advances
since Galileo. Ethicists denounce it as a denial of a unique genetic
identity; the same criticism was levied against in-vitro
fertilization. Social critics warn that cloning would simply permit the rich to
indulge in reproductive egomania, or entrepreneurs to mass-produce
superior athletes; but that's not really a deterrent.
Laws banning human cloning have been enacted in 24 countries,
including France, Germany, UK India, Japan, South Africa and Brazil.
This simply allows other countries, like China, to take the lead.
Human cloning already has many advocates, including those who cannot
have children by conventional means. If human cloning is made reliably
safe for both mother and child, market demand will soar and likely
overpower moral objections. It seems inevitable that human cloning,
if made medically safe, will undergo rapid adaptation to human wants
and needs. Somehow, DNA manipulation seems like a reasonable
alternative to the lottery of the human biological birthing process.
According to polls, most people already support therapeutic human
cloning - the creation of cloned embryos for research, particularly
on stem cells. Therapeutic cloning today will hasten the arrival of
reproductive cloning tomorrow. Even without it, cloning techniques
and technology are advancing rapidly. Human cloning research will
surely yield still further improvements in safety and reliability.
Once human cloning is made physically safe, it will proliferate.
Someday soon, somewhere, a biologist will implant a cloned human
embryo in a willing woman’s womb. The demand is already evident.
Calls have come from gays and infertile couples who wish to have
genetically related children, and from people who want to clone
lost children or loved ones.
Human clones will not be what some people expect - replacement
duplicates. They will, like everyone else, be born as babies,
each genetically the same as its clonal parent, a new kind of
identical twin; but since each will be shaped by environmental
influences, each will develop uniquely. How the child will turn
out psychologically and emotionally is anybody’s guess. But that
uncertainty will not stop prospective clonal parents, just as
similar unknowns have not stopped conventional reproduction.
The first human clone will probably be born outside the US - perhaps
in China, where work on human cloning is proceeding. Wherever the
child appears, its birth will undoubtedly electrify the world;
people will want to know if it remains healthy, and how it develops
as it grows to adulthood. One imagines that other cloned children
will follow and become commonplace. This will then become a new
commodity in the growing emporium of human reproduction.
MIT TECH-REVIEW (June 02)- Daniel Kevles: Cloning can't be stopped
TIME Magazine: CLONING - A collection of articles
Newsweek compares Wolfram and Kamen
In the last issue of eNews I mentioned that Steven Wolfram's new
book A New kind of Science was published on May 14, 2002.
Sales of this 1,280-page tome, full of pictures of computer
experiments and theories of physics, are going amazingly well
- easily Amazon's best ever seller; the 50,000-copy first order
was sold out, with more on back-order.
Wolfram’s fierce independence, along with his chronically low opinion
of the establishment, led him to a 10-year descent into solitude, from
which he emerged only last week with this self-published book in which
he claims to literally recast the entire field of science; the
universe, he insists, works like a computer. I myself am slogging
through the phone-book-size volume, excitedly and painfully. Excitedly
because I too am thrilled with the complex patterns generated by
simple cellular automata; painfully because Wolfram goes on endlessly
on the same theme - I'm still waiting to discover the "new science".
Previously, in several eNews issues, we had covered Dean Kamen's iBOT,
and 'Ginger' announced Dec. 2001 as Segway. The two-wheeled self-
balancing super scooter has created a national sensation even before
it hit the streets - already 22 states have agreed to allow Segways
on the sidewalk. On the other hand, there are many that believe that
Kamen is nothing more than a promoter of not-so-amazing technology
(see Ray Zack's e-feedback below).
Wolfram and Kamen are two larger-than-life people, wealthy mavericks
who warp science and technology from their own perspectives. Any
discussion of how innovation works might begin by looking at what
this disparate pair has accomplished.
The latest Newsweek (May 27, 2002) has a significant article that
compares two great minds - Scientist Stephen Wolfram and inventor
Dean Kamen. Will these two be known as the 21st century’s most
important thinkers? The Newsweek article is easier to read than
Wolfram's tome. But, despite what you think of Kamen and his Segway,
this Newsweek article puts it all in perspective.
You may not want to struggle with Wolfram's tome, or wish to buy
Kamen's Segway - but this Newsweek article is worth reading. Read it!
Newsweek - :Great Minds, Great Ideas
Website for "The New Kind of Science" - contents, extracts:
Review and buy Wolfram's tome
Wired: The man who cracked the code to everything
Yahoo - full coverage of several Segway news stories
Industrial automation update - May 2002
About half the JimPinto.com eNews subscribers are from the
industrial automation business. I have been getting a lot of
requests for updates on news-stories about major companies.
Here are some of the latest news, stews and views.
Invensys soldiers on with expensive debt
One Invensys employee (name withheld) asked:
"I noticed that since March you have not had anything to say about
Invensys. Why is that? Those of us who work here have noticed, and
wonder if our management has 'gotten to you'?"
Pinto response: While I have had some calls from 'management' (who
turned out to be lower level marketing-communications lackeys)
I have had no direct pressure from the top. Besides, how can they
'get to' me? Truth has no price!
Invensys senior management has never, ever directly disputed any
of my comments. Mind you, many Foxboro employees have told me that
"management" has been snooping around to see who is subscribed to
the JimPinto.com eNews. So, many people have been changing to personal
(outside email) subscriptions. However, there are still hundreds of
direct Foxboro, APV and Invensys readers on the list. Plus, hundreds
of others have received email forwards, and then sign up directly.
Invensys seems to be soldiering on, and those that remain seem to
be working hard, nose to the grindstone. The Flowserve acquisition
of Flow Controls seems to have gone through, with Invensys retaining
a minority stake. Many ex-Invensys employees seem relieved that the
saga is over - for them at least.
The latest news is that Compair has been unloaded to Alchemy Partners
for a "nominal consideration", with Invensys retaining an 18% share.
Here, the term "unloaded" is intentional here since Alchemy are
notorious "bottom fishers" - the same people who bought ICS for a
song. The name itself is amusing: Alchemy - turning base metals into gold!
Haythornthwaite has raised over $1b (£730m) from the two disposals:
Flow controls, sold to US group Flowserve for $535 million, and energy
storage $505 million. This helped to reduce debt (which peaked at
£3.3b) to manageable proportions. Invensys signed a $1.4b (£1b) loan
and saw its shares tumble on concern that the new financing was on
punitive terms (175 points above Libor). We can expect more disposals
from Invensys, but it is no longer desperate to raise cash and should
be able to command decent prices.
Meantime, Invensys shareholders continue to push for restructuring of
the board, specifically the departure of chairman and chief culprit
of the Yurko decline, Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge. The pompous and
egotistical xenophobe must also cope with calls for his resignation as
chairman of British Airways. It's simply a matter of months before
he is booted from the boards of both companies.
UK Independent - Invensys pays high price for £1b loan facility
Marshall faces axe at troubled Invensys
Rockwell Automation -
Rockwell Automation reported last week that fiscal third-quarter
earnings are expected to improve. But, at what cost? Another
debilitating Rockwell RIF (about 70-80 from Cleveland alone, some
who have been at Rockwell for decades) happened last week.
good news (earnings) & bad news (RIFs)
Meantime, Rockwell acquired the controller division of Samsung's
Mechatronics business located near Seoul, Korea, to form a new
business that will operate using the name Rockwell Samsung Automation.
In my opinion, this is no big deal: the acquisition is valued at about
$20m, and will serve to expand Rockwell Automation presence in the Far
East; plusSamsung signs on to be a Rockwell customer for automation
products throughout its own manufacturing operations.
I've been asked a hundred times: "Is the Rockwell acquisition by
Eaton for real?" Here is my opinion:
As I suggested in previous issues (eNews Dec. 31, 2001; Feb. 27, 2002)
Chairman & CEO Don Davis is working diligently towards a sale of
Rockwell Automation. The good financial performance (and consequent RIFs) helps
to generate a better price. Eaton is a primary contender. Other major
companies are "looking"; Siemens and Schneider are probably excluded
because of possible anti-trust problems; a rejuvenated Honeywell
(under new CEO David Cote) is a possibility, though it's more likely
that Honeywell Industrial Automation will itself be divested; Emerson
and GE think Rockwell Automation stinks; Danaher may be gutsy enough.
Who else is out there?
Weblog (see below) your news and views
Rockwell reports second-qtr. results
Rockwell Agrees to Purchase Samsung Controller Business
You've no doubt heard about the phenomenon of 'blogging' - web-based
articles and commentary that are updated regularly with inputs and
discussions from anyone (including YOU) who cares to contribute. The
value is relatively immediate feedback and interaction that escalates
and expands to include an ever-increasing number of participants.
Thank you, Alex Pavloff, for suggesting that JimPinto.com could
provide a good weblog.
Now YOU can get involved - with the JimPinto.com Weblog! You can log
YOUR comments on the topics discussed in the regular JimPinto.com
eNews - or for that matter ANY topic that relates to articles, poems,
news, discussions on the JimPinto.com website. Or, bring up a new
topic, or question.
Your 'blog' will usually be published the same day on the weblog for
that topic. You can read the relatively immediate feedback and
commentary from many others, on the same, or similar, or new topics.
Happy blogging! Stay tuned!
Go visit the JimPinto.com Weblog
You can 'blog' immediately on the following topics:
Industrial Automation Companies:
- Creeping Criminality
- The Lure of the Lifestyle
- Crony Capitalism
- Soft Solutions for Hard Problems
- Invensys deline
- Rockwell for sale
- Honeywell - what about IAC?
- Siemens - USA Managers' views
- Japan automation players
Bob Holland had suggested that a Liberal Arts education was helpful
to avoid "creeping criminality". Stan Abbot [Stan.Abbot@Invensys.com]
"I believe this happens when the focus moves from long-term benefit
to the larger unit (such as the family) to short-term self advantage.
'Carpe diem' can mean, 'take advantage of your opportunities', or can
be looked at as 'just do it, take care of #1.'
Jonathan Schacher had complained that the use of offshore design
talent is shortsighted. Debbie Miller [firstname.lastname@example.org]
"Selfishness at the top spawns selfishness at the bottom. And to
justify our own self-centeredness we at the bottom don't demand a
better attitude at the top. Moral compasses are encouraged everyday
to point in a personal, relativistic direction, not toward some larger
concept of what is right and wrong.
"A Liberal Arts education will not resolve the issue. What we can do
is adopt a better moral sense in ourselves. Then we can have higher
expectations in the areas we can affect. And we can have mercy and
grace when our expectations are disappointed, continuing to expect the
"When American parents start making a commitment to their children's
education so that young people have marketable skills, then Americans
will thrive once again. Sorry, but if a company can get a highly
qualified engineer from Asia who willingly works (and does a decent
job) for half of what his American counterpart expects, the company
should recruit that worker. Don't blame foreigners for the condition
of American society. We've done it to ourselves.
My friend, Ray Zack [ZaxFax@aol.com] is convinced that Segway
is flawed, and Dean Kamen is nothing but a good promoter:
"We may have great ideas and strong entrepreneurs in America, but we
have failed to make a commitment to properly educate our youth.
The blame lies squarely with the parents. I think our young are
in pathetic shape, and it’s not just a minority issue; this applies
to youth of all backgrounds.
"We could learn a few things from the Asian families who encourage
learning and prepare their children for future well-paying jobs from
the time they are very young. American youth are bred on television
and rap. Many are raised by just one parent. These kids aren't even
prepared to address ethical questions, questions that will come up
when they hit their teens. I think this is because they have a weak
education and no spiritual upbringing to simply know the difference
between right and wrong, good and bad, charity and selfishness.
"My generation is doing a really poor job of raising the next
generation. Don't blame foreigners for the mess we've created!"
"About a year has elapsed since I was seemingly "baying at the moon"
regarding lack of substance in the Kamen PR fraud. Kamen, as always,
seems to walk away with millions of investors' money.
"Slowly, as new details are advanced, there are an ever increasing
number of technical gurus who now find it safe to repeat the
fundamentals I notes more than a year ago. There is nothing quite as
useless as being efficient in promoting and producing something that
is a tech-marvel, but is basically flawed in its application!"
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