Tag: technology

Bill Gates recalls Paul Allen

Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died on Monday at the age of 65 of complications from a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bill Gates remembers his schoolmate, friend and business partner in a blog post titled “What I loved about Paul Allen.” Snippet:

Paul foresaw that computers would change the world. Even in high school, before any of us knew what a personal computer was, he was predicting that computer chips would get super-powerful and would eventually give rise to a whole new industry. That insight of his was the cornerstone of everything we did together.

In fact, Microsoft would never have happened without Paul. In December 1974, he and I were both living in the Boston area — he was working, and I was going to college. One day he came and got me, insisting that I rush over to a nearby newsstand with him. When we arrived, he showed me the cover of the January issue of Popular Electronics. It featured a new computer called the Altair 8800, which ran on a powerful new chip. Paul looked at me and said: “This is happening without us!” That moment marked the end of my college career and the beginning of our new company, Microsoft. It happened because of Paul.

Paul Allen made our world a better place and during his lifetime and he gave more than $2 billion towards the advancement of science, technology, education, wildlife conservation and the arts. RIP.

Bill Gates and  Paul Allen


China is driving the electric car

Tuesday, 10 October, 2017 0 Comments

“There is a powerful reason that automakers worldwide are speeding up their efforts to develop electric vehicles — and that reason is China.” So begins the story by @KeithBradsher in today’s New York Times. According to Bradsher, China feels it has little choice in pushing forward to an EV future. “While it is true that electric vehicles fit neatly into China’s plan to become the world leader in sci-fi technology like artificial intelligence, the country also fears a dark future — one where its cities remain cloaked in smog and it is beholden to foreign countries to sell it the oil it needs.”

China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future does not gloss over the many contradictions involved in the country’s drive for automotive independence. Nearly three-quarters of China’s power comes from coal, which emits more climate-changing gases than oil and, as Keith Bradsher puts it: “Even on electricity, China’s cars are still burning dirty.”

It’s a long road, comrades, as the Great Driver Helmsman would have said.


Bloomberg decrypted and fully charged

Thursday, 6 October, 2016 0 Comments

The technology industry is global “and supremely interconnected,” says Bloomberg as it introduces its new tech site for desktops and phones. Bloomberg Technology will offer live web shows on topics like computer security, a weekly video series on robots and a podcast called Decrypted that “will unlock hidden technology stories from around the world.” Decrypted is an intriguing, Snowdenish title for a podcast and the mandatory newsletter is equally hip. It’s energetically named “Fully Charged”. The promo writers spared no purple when typing up the site blurb. Snippet:

“An engineer on one continent changes the positioning of an electrode, a fraction of the size of a butterfly wing, and on the other side of the world, it ripples into a media thunderstorm.”

Bloomberg Technology


Rush Hour with robot cars and humans

Saturday, 12 March, 2016 0 Comments

Yesterday, General Motors announced it’s acquiring Cruise Automation, an autonomous vehicle technology startup. Almost simultaneously, Ford revealed a new subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility, that will focus on developing technology for autonomous vehicles. What will a world of robotic transport look like, feel like? Well, it will be cheaper and safer, that’s for sure. When robotic vehicles rule the road, we won’t have to stop at intersections anymore because pedestrians, cars and bikes will interweave at speed, intelligently, fearlessly. That’s how Fernando Livschitz envisages it, anyway.

To a certain degree, all of this is being acted out in the main cities of Asia every day, without robots. Rob Whitworth went to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and was captivated by the the energy of the place. “Saigon is a city on the move unlike anything I have experienced before which I wanted to capture and share,” he says.


The ideology of digitality

Monday, 12 January, 2015 0 Comments

“Never mind the platforms,” writes Leon Wieseltier. “Our solemn responsibility is for the substance.” His essay, “Among the Disrupted,” is a fierce attack on what he calls “the ideology of digitality.” Snippet:

“All revolutions exaggerate, and the digital revolution is no different. We are still in the middle of the great transformation, but it is not too early to begin to expose the exaggerations, and to sort out the continuities from the discontinuities. The burden of proof falls on the revolutionaries, and their success in the marketplace is not sufficient proof. Presumptions of obsolescence, which are often nothing more than the marketing techniques of corporate behemoths, need to be scrupulously examined. By now we are familiar enough with the magnitude of the changes in all the spheres of our existence to move beyond the futuristic rhapsodies that characterize much of the literature on the subject. We can no longer roll over and celebrate and shop. Every phone in every pocket contains a ‘picture of ourselves,’ and we must ascertain what that picture is and whether we should wish to resist it.”

Talking of phones, here is a photo by Peter Dejong/AP of people holding their mobile phones in front of Rembrandt’s painting, The Night Watch, during a visit by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, with King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on 5 April last year.

Amsterdam

Tomorrow, here, fear of AI (artificial intelligence) and its role in “the tyranny of technology.”


Mary Meeker: Internet Trends 2014

Thursday, 29 May, 2014 0 Comments

Like Christmas, Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report is greatly anticipated. Instead of children and parents, however, the audience for this treat is technology and business managers. Her big talking point for 2014? Enterprises need to think mobile first as it’s increasingly likely that all commercial internet contacts with customers will be via mobile connections. And messaging is changing from broadcasting a few posts to a large audience on Facebook to frequent interactions with smaller groups of people on the likes of Snapchat, WhatsApp and Tencent. Enjoy!


All this technology is making us anti-social

Thursday, 30 January, 2014 0 Comments

Technology

“At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basket and tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.” David Sedaris


Datafication

Wednesday, 24 April, 2013 0 Comments

In the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Neil Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger look at how big data is changing the way we think about the world. They coin the term “datafication” to describe the transformation of things into a numerically quantified format, which is key to the production of big data. Snippet:

“Datafication is not the same as digitization, which takes analog content — books, films, photographs — and converts it into digital information, a sequence of ones and zeros that computers can read. Datafication is a far broader activity: taking all aspects of life and turning them into data. Google’s augmented-reality glasses datafy the gaze. Twitter datafies stray thoughts. LinkedIn datafies professional networks.

Once we datafy things, we can transform their purpose and turn the information into new forms of value. For example, IBM was granted a U.S. patent in 2012 for ‘securing premises using surface-based computing technology’ — a technical way of describing a touch-sensitive floor covering, somewhat like a giant smartphone screen. Datafying the floor can open up all kinds of possibilities. The floor could be able to identify the objects on it, so that it might know to turn on lights in a room or open doors when a person entered. Moreover, it might identify individuals by their weight or by the way they stand and walk. It could tell if someone fell and did not get back up, an important feature for the elderly. Retailers could track the flow of customers through their stores.”

For a less-rosy view of all this, check out what Nassim N. Taleb has to say in Beware the Big Errors of Big Data. Bottom line: “I am not saying here that there is no information in big data. There is plenty of information. The problem — the central issue — is that the needle comes in an increasingly larger haystack.”


The smartphone is the fastest spreading technology in history

Tuesday, 10 July, 2012

“Although devices combining telephony and computing were conceptualized as early as 1973 and were offered for sale beginning in 1994, the term ‘smartphone’ did not appear until 1997, when Ericsson described its GS 88 ‘Penelope’ concept as a “Smart Phone”. Source: Wikipedia

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