- Artificial Currencies Multiply, and Go Nowhere. When will geeks learn that currencies are more than hard math problems, and require the good faith, economic strength and military power of a nation in order to warrant the trust of others? Not next year.
- Net Neutrality Survives the Onslaught of US Lobbyists, but carriers are thrown a bone of some kind by old friend Tom Wheeler.
- Pattern Recognition Becomes the Real Goal of Predictive Analytics and Big Data Collection, and PRP (Pattern Recognition Processors) Chips, and a whole new ecology of tools and languages begins to arrive in developers’ hands, setting the stage for a revolution in computing.
- Security Takes Its Rightful Place in the CEO Agenda, and corporate spending on security reverses its current downward trend. The cost of building an insecure Internet is paying for security, and this is the year when all of the tickets come due at once. (Russia gains more fear and respect as a cyber warrior, and China gains more global scorn as a cyber thief of commercial IP, and the press will do a good job of confusing the two.)
- VR Remains Exactly That – Virtual – everywhere except in gaming and fringe entertainment. Just because Zuck has a good lunch date with Oculus doesn’t mean the rest of the world has not already taken a pass on this technology for decades.
- Amazon Stumbles, as Jeff’s appetite finally exceeds his reach, and customers are turned off by his megalomaniacal drive: the fire phone debacle, off-book rocket adventures, hapless drone delivery scenarios, Hachette punishments, all lead to a loss of customer, and investor, confidence.
5 Pts.: Bezos becomes publicly ranked by the Harvard Business Review as one of the worst CEOs in the world, and the New York Times writes a crucifixion story about the company which directly impacts its recruitment levels – even as the stock climbs.
- Home Networks Finally Get Off the Launchpad, and it turns out that all people want is low energy bills, TVs everywhere, and a single remote. What they don’t want: talking refrigerators, things that don’t work, complexity replacing reliability, more nested menus instead of real buttons, dumb things talking to other dumb things, or, worst of all, hackable home networks. Samsung and Apple lead the pack in this race.
- Apple Pay Succeeds, establishing its leadership in the new MALT category. With Mapping improved and Micro-mapping driven by Beacon, Advertising dollars following Beacon merchandising edge, Location provided by phones and Beacons, and the final Transactions step now well in hand with Apple Pay, Apple achieves the technical and market steps necessary for domination of retail and physical space services.
10 Pts.: Apple has achieved the technical position and market positioning, but beacons have yet to be widely deployed.
- Encryption Continues Its Exponential Expansion: Everywhere, deeper and end-to-end, a continuing major trend. Thank you, again, Edward, for protecting us from China and Russia, as well as ourselves.
- Personal Health, Fitness, and Lifestyle Devices Merge. The doctor / patient relationship begins an inevitable and irreversible shift in power and cooperation. We’ll see a flood of new watches, bands, and jewelry, but intelligent clothing stays fashion-niched because of price and inconsistency. New goals for the device genre: non-invasive measurement of blood pressure and glucose levels, and for the fanciful, creative visual displays of body state, such as heart rate and galvanic skin response, perhaps even a lover’s proxy touch. New creative energies in science and design rush in.
Total: 95 Pts.
FiRe 2015 Launches Pattern Computing Startup
Some of the participants in the CTO Design Challenge that conceived the new computer. (From left) Mark Anderson, Larry Smarr, Brad Holtz, Steve Coy, Ty Carlson, Mike Riddle, Ken Kreutz-Delgado, Tim Stonehocker, David Schoenberger, and Hugh Bradlow. (Photo by Kris Krüg)
New startup building ‘desktop supercomputer,’ seeking big breakthroughs using chips that work like the human brain
The first computer system incorporating IBM’s TrueNorth computer chip was conceived in Deer Valley, Utah last month, in a mere four days at the Future in Review conference.
Under the direction of Mark R. Anderson, a handpicked group of computer executives from different companies designed a desktop supercomputer system as part of a CTO challenge at Anderson’s annual conference, also known as FiRE.
They designed the Pattern Computer as a general purpose computer, one that runs on any operating system, and is highly efficient, extensible, scalable and unbelievably fast. It will be built using commodity hardware, connect to the new 100Gbps Pacific Research Platform, and run TrueNorth and other new brain-inspired chips as co-processors.
Read more at Geekwire
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The FiRe Team
Virtual assistant Hound can make you an espresso while it reads your football scores
Hound CTO Tim Stonehocker talks with Kamran Elahian and Brett Horvath at FiRe. Photo: Kris Krug
By Berit Anderson
After more than ten years of development and with more than 200 million users on parent company SoundHound, virtual assistant Hound seems poised to take on Siri, Cortana and Google Now all at once.
One of the things that sets Hound apart is context: CTO Tim Stonehocker explained that Hound can actually remember your preferences and the context of previous questions to allow you to speak naturally.
What areas are you searching within? What do you consider walking distance? What is your definition of ‘open late’? Hound will remember all of these things to answer more complicated queries that include inherent personal judgments and assessments: For example, find me restaurants within walking distance of home that are open late.
“I feel like when I’m speaking to Siri I have to speak like Siri, like a robot,” said moderator and Scout co-founder Brett Horvath. Hound, he said, really picks up well on accents and natural language — a symptom of SoundHound’s years of musical and sound analysis.
But even calling Hound a virtual assistant does it a kind of disservice. Hound has already scaled the interface across 50 domains, setting it on-par with Siri and Cortana. But it has also launched Houndify, a development platform available to developers by request, to help it scale to all domains and across devices.
“We have thousands and thousands of other companies .. who are developing things using our platform,” said SoundHound investor Kamran Elahian. Elahian is the chairman and co-founder of Global Catalyst Partners.
What will that mean? Stonehocker described seeing a SoundHound developer eying the company espresso machine a few weeks ago. He could tell, he said, what he was thinking, “and I encouraged him to take it apart.”
“Now we have a Houndified coffee machine.”
In a remarkable demo video, Stonehocker showed Hound brewing an espresso while talking about the weather in Park City, the altitude and what football games are on this week.
As Elahian sees it, Hound could be a breakthrough technology for the Internet of Things. “Our vision has been that Hound would be the one that would unify all these things … When you’re talking to your coffee machine about your favorite sports team and you move on to your toaster, it should know [what you were talking about].”
As the first investor in SoundHound, Elahian also recounted how he’d seized the opportunity to fill Hound’s first $5 million round when the two were still just Stanford masters students with a great idea.
“I told them, I really like what you’re doing. I really like the vision. Don’t meet with Kleiner Perkins. Don’t meet with Sequoia. I’ll give you the $5 million.”
Six Companies That Will Change Your Life
By Scott Ridout
On Wednesday morning, Ed Butler, BBC Reporter, led a panel discussion introducing six of twelve FiRe Starter companies — top startups chosen by the Strategic News Service (SNS) for world promotion at the FiRe conference. These companies displayed innovative technologies that are making great strides towards improving our world.
“We measure height and weight but do nothing to measure mental health…we are building technology to screen for mental and behavioral health” — Corinna Lathan, Founder and CEO
Anthrotronix, based in Silver Springs Maryland, is an R&D company focusing on building a mobile application for measuring mental health- brain and behavioral health.
Applied DNA Sciences
“We use patterns embedded in DNA to interfere with the theft of intellectual property…We design and engineer DNA tags from botanical genomes” — James Hayward, President and CEO
Applied DNA Sciences’ feature product, SigNature DNA, is a unique security solution designed for supply chain security, brand protection, or law enforcement applications.
“Haydale prints graphene sheets into composites and other materials…Our goal is to reduce 10–15% of polyester materials around the world” — Ray Gibbs, CEO
Haydale offers tailored graphene solutions to enhance applications for raw materials suppliers and product manufacturers.
“Lets talk about networks… we want to connect over a billion cars in order to leverage big data networking opportunities” — Jay Giruad, Founder
Mojio offers a cloud-connected cellular device (iOS and Android) application that connects automobiles to the Internet and to the user’s smartphone.
“Disrupting how drugs are discovered and developed” — Will Martinez, CEO and CTO
Nanotech Bio produces breakthrough nano-electronic sensor tools that will revolutionize how modern medicines will be discovered and developed.
“Using carbon nanotubes to represent zeroes and ones…very low power, very fast memory” — Greg Schmergel, Co-Founder and CEO
Nantero has developed NRAM™, the next generation of memory using carbon nanotubes. It is faster and uses less power than DRAM and flash memory in both standalone and embedded applications.
The Market Has Changed It’s Behavior, Have You?
By Evan Anderson
Keiretsu Forum’s Nathan McDonald sat down with Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman and Harris & Harris Group CEO Doug Jamison to talk about investing today. One thing is for sure, this ain’t the 90’s.
Goldman noted that in the late 1990s the tech market, characterized by the dotcom bubble, stood in stark relief to today’s more rational market behavior. He sees an increased focus on fundamentals, a sense of discipline which makes it harder to take companies public. While Goldman noted that the presence of roughly 120 unicorns in the market has led to some overvaluation, the structure of valuation itself has shifted. While capital is in high supply, fewer companies have venture arms today. He noted that most of the money is coming from the hedge and mutual funds, and the big ones; Blackrock, Fidelity, and T. Row Price.
Further, Goldman explained that much of the valuation increases today occur while companies are private, a reversal from previous valuation patterns. Public companies just aren’t seeing the increases they used to.
Doug Jamison noted that after the dotcom bust, sub-50 million dollar IPOs have faded away. This fundamentally changes structure of market. Jamison noted that the challenge of unicorns is their allure; they suck money from smaller firms, often those involved in complex but critical deep-science innovation. Jamison stated a clear concern for this loss of diversification, noting “My thinking is…is that good for the market?”
Goldman pointed out further concerns in modern investment. He noted that venture has been a great asset class for endowments, but that volatile investments are also a result. Noted Goldman, “I was talking to a banker friend of mine, and he was saying ‘With an IPO, guys would do three months of due diligence. With these late stage private investments, they’re doing 2 weeks.” In other words, then, the difference in discipline between public and late-stage private is unbelievable. Goldman also raised concerns that companies who start to miss their numbers in these hyped private deals end up risking their ability to go public.
Doug Jamison highlighted the amount of legitimate valuation in the market, stating “If you parse the system, there are a lot of companies where valuations are not inaccurate.” He noted that companies, particularly those in the life sciences and energy fields, have suffered a downturn in valuation that also places them in more stable and accurate territory. Citing the shift of capital from limited partnerships towards a smaller subset, Jamison pointed out that if this is a rearrangement, it could be positive and disruptive. If the contraction is more long term, however, the diversification decrease will close the doors on deserving investments.
Goldman also noted that the number of parallel tech trends today is high, with 8 or 9 disruptive fields emerging now. While noting that most companies have business models that make sense long term (an improvement on the many companies in 2000 who had no business or revenue model to speak of) Goldman pointed out that things don’t go up and to the right forever. It is still difficult to see whether some of the valuations we see today really make sense.
When asked about crowdfunding as a disruptive way to raise capital in modern investing, both men expressed concern. Goldman noted problems with investing without long term commitment and knowledge, highlighting a lack of just reinforcement for long term investments in the crowfunding world. Jamison agreed, stating that while the democracy of investment brought by crowdfunding was good in the short term, investing isn’t solely about the money. He stated similar concerns with long-term investments, noting that “Invesment is like playing poker, but you get to count the cards.” If you can take in info and measure probability, you benefit. This may be lost in short-term crowfunding. As an example, Jamison queried, “Take drug trials, what crowdfunding body will be there 7 years in?” In terms of quick-to-market investments however, Jamison sees crowdfuning as a beneficial model.
Generally, then, both experts see secondary markets to capital as both an emerging realm of threat and possibility. However, the overall sentiment was troubled in regards to these sources of capital, with Jamison stating “We need secondary markets, but I just don’t see the demand”, while Goldman worried that such tools provided executives with a mechanism to take money off the table, asking “Can senior executives get distracted by not being hungry enough to go public, and therefore not be well aligned with investors?”
As for what is undervalued? Jamison sees a phenomenon in which Biotech firms have taken up much of the investment capital and left many sectors behind. Top of the list: IoT hardware firms.
4D Printing Is Already on the Table and the Fourth Dimension is Self-Assembly
By Evan Anderson
Shane Wall, CTO of Hewlett- Packard, sat down with Ed Butler at FiRe today to have a chat about the future of 3D printing. While Wall’s predictions and descriptions ranged from 3–30 year timelines, one thing was clear; the future is now.
In particular, Wall described HP’s pivot towards a new, blended reality. What does that mean? It means we live in an era which regularly blends our physical world with the digital. From the Internet of Things to wearable tech, we regularly send and receive digital data to track and interact with our physical activities. The physical and the digital are no longer two distinct categories.
A leading example of this shift is 3D printing, one of HP’s new focus areas. According to wall, 3D transformation is tantamount to the future of production. Wall explained that “3D transformation […] is the next industrial revolution, and we mean it in that full sense.”
So far we hominids have made products the same way throughout history. We stage in raw materials, manufacture them into value-added products, and then stage those products in distribution centers and optimize the entire chain. He who optimizes the chain best (whether with production efficiency, better marketing, or faster distribution) wins.
That system, says Wall, will be turned on its head over the next 30 years. We will move to a model of democratized design in production. It will be simpler than ever to design the products we actually want and print them instantly.
Wall cautioned that to-date 3D printing has seen lots of hype, and often in its least valuable areas. Media portrayal of 3D technology tends to focus on the consumer side, highlighting cheap home printers that tend to produce low quality goods very slowly. This is a system of production of what are termed “extruded parts”, essentially a “glue gun on a table” model with low quality output. That total market, Wall noted, is a tiny percent of the broader market served by 3D printing. The real progress, he stated, will be in larger commercial and industrial applications, at least in the near term.
Commercial methods will focus on “centered laser-ing”. Using this method, a laser traps a bed of powder and fuses it, resulting in better quality parts. This technology is still slow and limited in quality, but the next 3–5 years, according to Wall, will see a major transformation in efficiency.
What is more, HP is developing a new 3D printing methodology, multi-jet fusion. Due to be released sometime next year, Wall explained that multi-jet will revolutionize 3D printing. Operating 10 times faster than other processes at just 20% of the cost with a significantly extended materials list, multi-jet allows control at the voxel level (a voxel is, in essence, a 3D pixel). The implication? You could print something as complex as a fully functional guitar with color and material differentiation, fluidity between rigid and flexible parts, and electronics.
A major concern in this field is intellectual property. Clearly the ability to print something on demand opens a world of illicit copying, from basic consumer goods to machine parts, guns to fake drugs. However, Wall noted that we can track digital representations and diagrams online. What is more, 3D watermarks can be placed in products from specific printers. While it will be far from simple, Wall noted that technology exists that allows tracking to show how a part was printed, who owns it, and which printer created it.
Perhaps most fascinating in Wall’s interview was his outlook on the future of 3D parts. How could 3D printing get more mind-boggling? Wall sees 4D self-assembly printing coming forward in the next 30 years. 4D parts would be printed with specific characteristics at their boundaries. These characteristics will be activated to stimulate joining for self-assembly.
In short, picture that you have multiple parts with certain properties on their edges; place them together, add water, and they assemble themselves; or, as noted by BBC Senior Broadcast Journalist Ed Butler, “No more Ikea struggles”.
Wall explained that as parts increase in strength and application (we are already manufacturing airplane parts using 3D printing technology) there will be societal implications. The removal of human participation in production requires some forethought and planning, to be sure. Another caveat is that 3D printing will not remove the need for the basic materials, such as rare earth metals, that we find problematic today.
All caveats aside, Wall noted that the system HP is creating today, a system wherein open platform printers allow us to advance faster than any individual firm could do so, will lead to a new era of production. It will be an era of rapid social change, massive industrial advances, and a streamlined lifestyle previously unimaginable.
The takeaway? Buckle your 3D printed, flexible-rigid integrated, self-assembling seat belts.
The TrueNorth Chip: The Right Brain of Computing
Dharmendra Modha has something to share with the world, and it’s making a splash. Modha spoke today at the SNS FiRe conference in Park City about the creation of IBM’s DARPA-funded TrueNorth chip, a pattern recognition processor capable of vastly exceeding all previous processing capabilities while using a fraction of the power.
Mohda described his humble beginnings, working his way from 100 neuron models all the way through rats and monkeys to human scale. He noted that by modeling a processor after the human brain, we can mimic a social network of 10 billion neurons. A real time simulator of that magnitude would require 12 gigawatts of power, or the entire generation capacity of the nation of Singapore.
This is instructive. As our processors have gotten faster and hotter, we have reached the upper limits of speed and heat in processing. The brain, on the other hand, is extremely slow and cool while processing massive quantities of information. A bee brain, for example, is a supercomputer the size of a postage stamp with the power load of a hearing aid battery.
The architecture of brains, Mohda explained, is parallel, distributed, slow, and modular. If you connect cortices from any direction they can easily communicate. The TrueNorth chip operates more efficiently, therefore, in almost every way. As well as the above characteristics, it is far cooler than its predecessors. The end result? We can achieve pattern recognition using large quantities of censors while using orders of magnitude less power.
According to Mohda, “We are literally creating synaptic supercomputers, very very quickly.” The underlying concept is a sea-change in our understanding of processing. Until now, Mohda notes, we have been trying to put a square peg in the proverbial round hole in the processing world. Rather than picture small shifts in power and capacity, Mohda says, “We need to envision an entirely new ecosystem. Chips come and go, ecosystems endure.”
What are the applications? Imagine glasses for the visually impaired that help them navigate complex environments without any need for internet connections. Imagine a tumbleweed robot that can roll into a burning house and search for missing children. Imagine censors that can measure ocean temperature, turbidity and more to track pollution.
This, Mohda states, will transform “not only business, but society itself […]We see a whole new generation of chips, systems, programming languages, software ecosystems, algorithms, and applications; a completely different way to make the world work.”
Where does this put us now? Mohda, with a sly grin, noted that we are at a point with synaptic supercomputing best described by Winston Churchill. “This is not the end, it is not even the beggining of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
In short, Mohda says, “The brain remains, and will remain, the frontier of discovery for at least a century.”