JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success
No. 58 : August 25, 2001
Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.
- Nanotech issue: Scientific American Sept. 2001
- New Book: Damien Broderick - The Spike
- Search Engines - Google and others
- Napster alternatives
- Hotlinks to hot topics
- Future Factory - Man & dog story
- Thoughts on technohumans
- Kamen's iBOT
Scientific American - Nanotech issue
The latest (Sept. 2001) issue of Scientific American is dedicated to
Nanotechnology : What is it? Is it science fiction, or reality? Why are
companies like IBM and HP investing significantly in nanotech? Why is the
Government (both past and current administrations) approving $0.5b for
nanotech research? When will nanotech produce results?
This is an excellent opportunity for you and I to catch up on this
important new technology. This SciAm issue has 3 major articles (with a lot
of sub-topics and sidebars) that present a complete view - for the layman,
as well as for the technologist.
Scientific American: Nanotech special issue (Sept. 2001)
Nanotechnology - What is it? Will it meet its ambitious goals?
This SciAm issue features an excellent summary article by Eric Drexler - the Nanotech
pioneer. He writes in simple, easy to understand language, predicting that
that the tiniest robots will revolutionize manufacturing and transform
Eric Drexler's article
Drexler says he got his initial inspiration from a 1959 talk by Richard
Feynman (Nobel prize - Physics 1965).
Text of Feynman's speech:There's plenty of room at the bottom
Biology outmatches futurists' fantasies for molecular robots
New book : 'The Spike'
Many leading thinkers believe that the acceleration of change is increasing
so sharply that the future will soon be not just unknowable, but
unrecognizable. In his new (Feb. 2001) book: The Spike - How Our Lives Are
Being Transformed By Rapidly Advancing Technologies Damien Broderick
provides a provocative and lucid account of technology developments that
may lead to The Singularity, or as he calls it, The Spike.
Australian writer, Damien Broderick is a respected interpreter of science
and technology with a gift for seeing the connections between different
technologies and synthesizing diverse areas of knowledge. He writes with
infectious enthusiasm, peeling back the layers of jargon which surround
recent advances in nanotech, biotech, and all the other techs that are
daring us to keep up.
This book will hook you!
Broderick's The Spike
Using a search-engine is still one of my biggest thrills!
I have demonstrated my prowess many times to family and friends (even as a
party-trick) with the challenge : Ask me anything, and I'll find it for
you within 5 minutes! They ask for song lyrics, the name of a poem from
just one line they remember, some obscure mathematical theorem, and other
interesting, and sometimes odd, things (find me a picture of a 1956 Dodge
You know, most often I surprise them by coming back in less than the
allocated 5 minutes, with the right answer. (In the case of the Dodge Dart,
I found a 1958 model and quickly changed the caption to 1956 before I
printed the page (wink ;) )
There seem to be many choices for doing a web-search - Yahoo, Excite,
Lycos, Infoseek - but some are only portals. Inability to find the right
revenue-model has caused many to outsource their core search-engine
technology and services.
Today, Google, AskJeeves and AltaVista are the only branded websites that
still power their own searches. Google is the winner, with its quick
response and focus on search, search and nothing but search (it is not a
portal like Yahoo).
You can use Google through the JimPinto.com website - try it. Go to
www.JimPinto.com and scroll to the bottom blue section. You'll see a space
for entering your search words or phrase - with a choice of two buttons:
Search locally (the JimPinto.com website) - or search the entire web.
Try it! Think of an item you may have read in eNews a few months ago - and
you'll find it with a click. Or, enter a word, or phrase, or even your own
name, and search the web. It's fast, and its fun!
Google has become a web favorite because it's simple and it works. But
today, a new generation of search engines is emerging to challenge the
dominance of Google. If you're interested, you might try some of them, to
review their special features.
WIRED news item (Aug. 14, 2001): Searching for Google's Successor
Just a few months ago, on any given day or night, you'd find 50,000 users
connected to Napster, sharing their music files. Today, you can download
the latest Napster beta-software but if you try to use it, you get this
"News Flash! The ability to transfer files is currently disabled. We're
still fine tuning our noticed-works filters and hope to begin testing them
again soon. Know that we are working as fast as we can to bring file
sharing back. Thanks for your continued support."
Interestingly, though the file sharing is peer-to-peer (direct from one
users computer to the other users computer) Napster is still a central
"clearing house" - which has now been stopped. It will resume, but users
will be charged a fee - it will cost you to connect to my computer through
Napster, though I won't get a cent!
This brings up true peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing alternatives - users
connecting to each other, without a central control scheme. When P2P is
used, no one can shut things down simply because there is no central source
to shut down.
Here are some current Napster alternatives:
The Gnutella network shares all file formats in a peer-to-peer,
decentralized system. Currently, Gnutella sometimes takes several minutes
to initialize, searches are slow and content can be difficult to find.
Gnutella's significance comes from it being a truly decentralized
file-sharing network. Limewire and BearShare are Gnutella network clients.
KaZaA shares music, videos, programs and documents in a peer-to-peer,
marginally centralized system (users with high-speed connections can opt to
function as supernodes, sharing a large number of files on the network).
Reports 7 million downloads to date.
Morpheus - owned by Musiccity, with technology from KaZaA.
Audiogalaxy shares music files in .mp3 format in a centralized system.
Large selection, though some popular music is banned.
Hot links to HOT topics
Many people have asked - where do you get all this info?
Well, mostly from the web (my 'robots' bring back the types of techhy
tidbits I ask for). I follow up the daily and weekly flow of email news and
browse the new issues of leading magazines like WIRED and MIT-TECH-REVIEW.
Try the new button on the JimPinto.com homepage: "Hot links to
hot topics". There you'll find web links to some of our favorite sources -
technology, markets, mergers, people, products - and even the poetry which
we're passionate about.
You might like to spend a few minutes here - or a few hours or days. Come
back now and then, to find good stuff - we update regularly.
The story I attributed to Dick Morley (the future factory will have a man
and a dog) brought this feedback from Alan Chattaway, Aspen Technology,
"Jim, you thoroughly messed up this old joke, which goes back at least to
1970 and may have originated in Japan. Or maybe Dick messed it up and you
quoted him accurately...
I bounced this to Dick Morley, and the great guru replied:
"The original story goes like this: The fully automated factory of the
future employs only one man and a dog. The dog is there to make sure the
man doesn't touch anything, and the man is there to feed the dog."
"Your "critic" has the joke right. And, I did not originate. A good story
is never improved by the truth."
You might be interested in some of my "improvements”: 1/ the man was there
to supervise the factory, and the dog to assure that the man does not touch
anything. 2/ The man was there to represent the human unions....
After reading the story on brain-machine interface and "technohumans"
(eNews August 17, ’01), my son David Pinto [email@example.com] sent this:
Regarding my update on Kamen, iBOT and 'IT', Dean Reimer, Westroc,
Vancouver, BC [firstname.lastname@example.org] commented:
"All your musing got me thinking about this. Spectacles and wheelchairs
are all technology that makes humans more able. So it made me think that
not too far in the future, when robot wheelchairs are more advanced, it
might be possible to hook one up for a paraplegic, with links directly to
the brain. But perhaps the weight of the complete body would be a bit too
much, so the whole thing would work better if the body were removed.
Imagine a person whose body is completely useless; if it was possible to
hook this person's brain to an artificial life support robot that could
walk and dance as well as you or I, wouldn't a paraplegic want it? Now,
would that person be less human just because his body was gone?
"So, reading this to Surya (David’s wife), she says: "Of course he's less
human!" When I pushed further, she also said that in her view, a man with
prosthetic legs is less human. But, does that mean he has any less rights?
Can he still vote? I dare say he'd be allowed to vote. And not just in
"Jim, I'm surprised that so many people are just hearing about the iBOT
now. I recall seeing a television piece on it at least two years ago, and
I remember feeling so frustrated that it couldn't be sold without FDA
approval. As far as I was concerned it should no more require FDA approval
than a car, a skateboard or a bicycle. If I was paralyzed I would have
paid anything for one, it was that amazing.
"When the hype surrounding Ginger (IT) first arose, Kamen was referred to
as an inventor "who had invented an advanced wheelchair capable of climbing
stairs" a description that hardly does justice to the sheer magnificence of
the iBOT. Once I realized that this was the wheelchair I had seen, I
figured that however revolutionary IT was claimed to be, it probably was.
I still look forward to its unveiling."
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