Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Knowledge Engine

Nothing more really needs to be said in terms of the knowledge engine construct according to Google but significant others dispute Google's claim to fame in this nascent field and with good reason.

 Wolfram Research promises ready access to the pursuit of knowledge via Wolfram Alpha, a computational knowledge engine promising innumerable ways to get the correct answer to difficult questions in real time, something not even foreseen just 5 years ago. Another player in the knowledge game is Bing, Microsoft's competitor to Google. Bing uses Wolfram Research tech on the knowledge side of things. Also forgot IBM's Watson, a major player for sure.

Precursors to The Knowledge Engine - Greatly Edited

"Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.” He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work.” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down." - Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift

And many more personages and their tech, too numerous to include in this post save for the astounding Antikythera Mechanism, a computing engine created by the Greeks over 2100 years ago.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Art of Design

Every once in a great while, an elegant picture capturing the essence of great design presents itself to the world as seen in this closeup of the imaging module of Google Glass. Enjoy.

Being There

This is where video is going. Seamless, invisible and simply being there.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Redoubt of Learning Stands Firm

This wonderful picture comes from the Royal Society, the oldest scientific body in the world. As posted in the NY Times, the society forever remains A Redoubt of Learning Stands Firm, something to be cherished in a world fraught with intolerance, ignorance and hostility, in many ways, to science, the discipline best suited to learning how reality actually works.

The other notion one gets from reading the NY Times piece, and amplified when visiting the Royal Society website, is the society's deep connect to art, creativity and education from the humanist perspective, a characteristic all to rare in today's age of instant gratification being not fast enough.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

123 Make

This is not a plug for Autodesk's free 3D tools for Windows, Mac and the web but rather a quick look at the coming tsunami of 3D printing and it's disruptive impact it's beginning to have on the world. Just as healthcare will experience creative destruction at the hands of the net, hardware and software, so will manufacturing as Kevin Kelly is right. What Technology Wants is what Technology will get.

Healthcare - Days of Future Past

From time to time, BRT makes guesstimates about the future of some tech or process based on some research and intuition done by yours truly. Predictions, not a chance, given the inherent vagaries of the quantum but quesstimates do apply because who knows, some of this info may actually come to pass as long as not too many black swans get in the way of getting proper feedback when gazing into the crystal ball of reality. The subject covered here is Healthcare, a boondoggle of mammoth proportions today, but perhaps not so much in the future if tech has anything to do about it.

Disruptive does not even describe what will happen to healthcare when...
  • Watson goes into smart phones and becomes friendly Dr. Welby, available 24/7 in the privacy of your own home. Implications for the future of doctors cannot be underestimated when...
  • Lab on a Chip gets real and can be bought at the local drug store complete with wireless connectivity to a smartphone or computer with connects to, you guessed it, Watson, the friendly digital doc who's analysis of one's drop of blood placed into the aforementioned Lab on A Chip is assessed with lab results sent back to you within minutes telling you why you are feeling the way you do without delay and without exorbitant costs, which means
  • The number of doctors needed to do baseline healthcare plummets
  • The cost of doing lab analysis of one's blood plummets
  • The cost of processing claims plummets while
  • The number of nurse practitioners rises to do the basics, i.e.flu shots, minor injuries etc., etc.
  • The question of drug and hospital costs will become the central issue along with insurance premiums as tech will have drastically lowered the cost of healthcare via the hardware/software environment described above.  
  • The same push of tech will impact administrative inefficiencies as well because technology will force the industry to become more transparent, competitive and web savvy regarding doctor, drug, hospital/MRI/Xray and insurance costs because people will demand it just as they demanded the same transparency when looking to buy anything else that's available on line whether it be books, computers or software.
Timeframe: 5 - 10 years if lobbyists and unenlightened self interests don't hold it back, something I don't see happening given just how badly broken the current system is.