News — At The Edge — 12/16

There are articles of mine about these issues you might find of interest:


Present Issues Bleeding Into the Future

Obama: Protect democracy or risk taking path of Nazi Germany

Americans must be vigilant…or risk following the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s…[Obama] told the Economic Club…[because] ‘things can fall apart fairly quickly’ if Americans don’t ‘tend to this garden of democracy’….He said the press ‘often drove me nuts’ but that he understood that a free press was vital to democracy.”

New York City moves to establish algorithm-monitoring task force

“[Goal’s] monitoring the fairness of algorithms used by municipal agencies [with]…experts in automated systems and representatives of groups affected by those systems…[and] making recommendations on how to improve accountability and avoid bias…[regarding]

Assessing these systems is a data-intensive task and creating parallel municipal systems to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks is civically very important.”

Units of Time are the New Currency —

“[Today] barrier that protects a company from low-cost competitors or new, disruptive technology — isn’t enough to build a lasting business. A moat simply buys a company time to figure out the next great business….

For [Warren] Buffett, operating as the low-cost producer in a crowded market helps…build a moat around price. For tech companies, low prices trend towards free as a means to kickstart adoption…. For Buffett, ‘buying a commodity and selling a brand‘ creates a moat around mindshare. For tech companies, a great product and well-known brand need to be defended by an ecosystem of other products….

While businesses were once considered only as valuable as the dividends they paid…are dwindling…. Moats protect you from competition, but they also cut you off from the outside world. To create a defensible business today, your product needs to be a utility…that solves a user pain, and then scale until…it becomes a feature of other products….

[I]t’s difficult to use distribution or cost as a competitive advantage — new software is available to users immediately, and for free….[If] forced to innovate just to maintain…[basic] engagement, you have no leverage on your time.

A utility gives you that leverage by spreading your product across other platforms and productsthat most people don’t think about it — like energyUtilities aren’t permanent, but they take a long time to grow obsolete…[and] buys you time between now and the next big shift….

When you compound time, you’re creating and recreating value faster than the current innovation cycle….Every minute that you save others is time that they spend creating additional value by using your utility, or building on top of it….

Success is important, but reinvesting that success to get compounding returns is where many promising companies plateau….[T]he formula for compounding time into a utility and beyond:

The only way to survive is to extract the core of your business and spread it out to compound returns on time….[First] save time for your customers and…yourself…[then] co-operating with other products in your ecosystem. Finally…acquire new innovation to maintain your lead…start the cycle again.”

Future Issues

Researchers train robots to see into the future -

“[New] system that lets robots ‘imagine the future of their actions’ so that they can interact with things they’ve never seen before…called visual foresight…to predict what their cameras will see if they perform a particular sequence of movements’….[Currently] predictions made only several seconds into the future….

Crucially, the robot can learn to perform these tasks without any help from humans or prior knowledge about physics, its environment or what the objects are. That’s because the visual imagination is learned entirely from scratch from unattended and unsupervised exploration, where the robot plays with objects [then]… builds a predictive model of the world…to manipulate new objects that it has not seen before….

’This can enable intelligent planning of highly flexible skills in complex real-world situations’…[and] can play out scenarios before it begins touching or moving objects….The robot needs no special information…or any special sensors. A camera is used to analyze the scene and then act accordingly, much as we can predict what will happen if we move objects….

’Children can learn about their world by playing’…[and] with this research…a robot to [can] do the same: to learn about how the world works through autonomous interaction…by building on previously observed patterns of interaction.’”

Holography-based 3D printing produces objects in seconds instead of hours -

“3D printers…take a long time to actually make anything…by putting down an object one microscopic layer at a time….[New] technique makes it possible to create the entire thing at once [in]…a second or two….

By carefully overlapping weak beams of light, sound or radiation, you can expose a chosen volume to a critical amount…carefully patterned to only intersect with each other and produce that constructive interference in the exact points that need to solidify…[in] seconds to actually complete the process of curing…[and] ready to use….

[Can] produce structures with other structures freely moving inside of them, like gears in a gearbox…[and] print multiple structures simultaneously — a bunch of dice, for instance….

[So] ‘3D all at once’ fabrication is possible [now]….Commercial applications are still a ways away, but it’s not hard to imagine [interest] in a 3D printer that creates things in a few seconds.

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May you live long and prosper!
Doc Huston



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Doc Huston

Doc Huston

Consultant & Speaker on future nexus of technology-economics-politics, PhD Nested System Evolution, MA Alternative Futures, Patent Holder —