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Peter Cochrane lectures and presents on a broad range of topics covering science, technology, progress, organizations, markets, change and adaptation including education, medicine, government, military and commercial companies. Peter's principal focus is the progression of technology and living with rapid change, making it happen and creating sustainable futures.
His presentations include full MUTI-MEDIA support on varying scales depending on audience size and venue, and he is equally at home with stand-up after dinner slots, on stage, or radio and TV. Over the past 5 years Peter has presented to audiences as large as 5000, and as small as 3. What follows are outline samples of past talks. Examples of animations, graphics, pics, movie and sound files are also available to give you a broader perception of the style and content.
Outsourcing Failure - Let Someone Else Do It!
Some of the worst management decisions come about by optimising, isolated company components or activities. This was seldom appropriate in the past and is ever more dangerous today given the networked and dynamic nature of business. A focus on OPEX alone is almost always a disastrous course. It is essential to be holistic, and to leave some inefficiency/slack for subsequent change. For modern companies computer modelling and war gaming rank high in their tool chest of change management.
A Good Idea Is Not Enough!
What makes a good company and a good business? Well, it always starts with a good idea, some new concept, or at least a new slant on an old one that introduces some advantageous change. In general this also involves new technologies, engineering, systems, applications, and often, some new organisation. Getting it all to happen and be successful is however the biggest challenge. Ideas are a dime a dozen and constititute <0.1% of the energy and effort expended; even the science and technology rarely breaches <1%; whilst engineering is usually contained below 10%. So where does the vast majority of effort and energy get expended? It seems that finance, management, marketing, sales, delivery and support always have the biggest appetite and consume ~90% of everything!
Today 47% of the global GDP goes up in smoke it is just the transaction cost. So even long established companies and trading is incredibly inefficient not just new starts. Is there anything we can do to improve? Could we really get a whole lot more efficient in the way we create new technologies, solutions, businesses and companies?
More Threats & More Promises
The IT sector has been between a rock and a hard place for decades with prices falling and technological ability rising year on year. And by degree the customer has gained more and more control and leverage with each new generation. For the telecoms sector however it is a new experience. With rapid commoditization; fiercer competition; limiting regulation; and technology changing faster than the industry can respond; it will be the companies that are most adaptive with the smartest business models that will survive.
Cost and staffing cuts are a given, as are the march of bandwidth, mobility, IP, and many new service options. What is not so obvious is the coming reversal of the company and customer role brought about by the increasing power of IT. If the telecom sector is to escape the fate of the American Music Industry, it has to start thinking anew about the future and the hard choices to be made.
Boom & Bust - Transforming Science & Technology Into Sustainable Business
We have just witnessed the dotcom bust, the IT Sector collapse, and the financial misconduct of Enron, Andersen, and WorldCom et al. Many once mighty corporations have been reduced to a shadow of their former glory in less than 18 months, and the knock on effects have been catastrophic. What went wrong, what happened, and what happens next?
Is it really that difficult to transform science and technology into sustainable businesses? In a slow moving, mostly well-behaved environment creating a sustainable business was tough but possible. In a fast moving and chaotic world, sustainability appears to be a more transitory property. The IT equivalent of the 100-year industrial revolution seems to have been repeated in just 10, and the rules of the game have changed!
Over-Hyped, Overdue, Over-Complex, Overpriced
With WAP and GPRS already consigned to the technological waste bin it looks as though the next candidates are 3G and BlueTooth. And for the same reasons - over-hyped, overdue, over-complex, overpriced, and under-performance. Unfortunately manufacturers and operators alike have bet the farm on their success, and without it their financial plight will be greatly extended. At a modest estimate the present telecoms misery will continue for another 5 - 7 years (or more) and further, will be compounded by WiFi and the rise of new forms of competition.
How did it all go so badly wrong? The industry assumed a continuing exponential growth and forgot it was riding a logistic curve - and they also got greedy and stopped innovating. The last big innovations were optical fibre in long lines, and the digital mobile infrastructure. Without fibre in the local loop operating costs were bound to garrotte operators, and now they need to innovate but don't have the revenues. Radical solutions to the conundrum will be required if most are to survive.
Too Little Too Soon
When telecommunications went from analogue to digital, that was a big deal. When telecommunications went from wired to wireless, that was a big deal. When we step from 2.5G into 3G, it will be a small deal. It is too little too soon.
A much bigger deal is: viral telecommunications. This is the use of unlicensed spectrum to develop a bottom¹s up industry. Rather than ignore or fight this phenomenon, it important that Telecoms join and lead this movement. It is pure IP, mostly asynchronous, very broadband and really bursty. Users will be mostly machines, not people
Everyday we try to conserve energy, money, raw materials and time. And whilst for us as individuals this is achieved intuitively, often requiring little thought or calculation, it turns out to quite a science for systems that are hugely complex. For example, the delivery of a package from one side of the country to another may seem a simple enough task, but if you have a company responsible for delivering 30M such packages each day, then it is a major problem. Likewise the scheduling of an airline, marshalling passengers, supplying food and drink etc, or running a production line assembling TV sets with components supplied from 11 different companies in 8 different countries poses significant problems.
What happens when people get it wrong? How about power outages in CA, Internet log jams, mobile phone networks that suddenly stop working, or insufficient Cabbage Patch Dolls for Christmas! So why do things go wrong? It should be simple, right? Wrong! It is becoming increasingly complex with mobile phone nets subject to people clustering in one physical location. A coffee break at a conference can suddenly see 200 people trying to phone their office in the same two-minute period. The cancellation of a train, aircraft, or a freeway accident or traffic jam has the same impact. These are strictly non-linear events that the system was never designed to cope with. There is sufficient call capacity in the networks, but increasingly it is always in the wrong place On many occasions optimisation turns out to be the last thing we need!
Getting IT Badly Wrong
Not since the depression of the 1930s have so many people and companies been in so much trouble. Once mighty companies have gone from riches to rags in less than 2 years. Profit mountains have become even bigger debt pits! What happened? How did it all go wrong? Have we really seen the 100 year long industrial revolution repeated by the WWW and dotcoms in less than 10 years, or is there more to it, and when will it recover?
Word Count = 80
3G To Be Sidelined?
I can't decide if the EU mobile operators have been the victims of governmental rape or the willing victims in some bizarre orgy. Either way, companies, governments, regulators, and bankers are surely regretting their recent actions. What carnage and what a mess! $Bns have been wiped off company valuations, share prices have fallen over 50% and thousands are now out of work as the impact of paying $120Bn for 3G licenses across the EU comes home to roost. Markets have realized that over $100Bn of infrastructure investment is needed, and $100Bn in technology and service developments plus marketing and sales to get Europe into this leading edge mobile mode. Assuming that all users abandon GSM overnight and buy 3G this implies over $1000 spend (on average) by every handset owner in Europe and a payback of 10 years for operators. So what is the solution - can anybody win?
Word Count = 148
No New Economy?
Since the dotcom bust it has become fashionable to knock the WWW and assert that nothing has changed and there is no new economy. Don't believe it! DotComs are still alive and the bit-based economy is thriving. The travel industry has been transformed and is now dominated by a very few on-line players, whilst the music industry is feeling the pain of not responding to the market. Car sales on-line are booming, and all the dotcom survivors are becoming leading brands - even Amazon is making a profit! This new economy is different, it is bigger than expected, and it is working. So who is going to get burned next? How about Hollywood and the Telcos? Why? Because they are failing to change in concert with technology and markets.
Word Count = 128
New Technology - New Products - Making IT Happen
The shock of the new is probably the number one limiter to innovation in any company. Large corporations are increasingly prone to close down Research and sell off their IP as 'the new' has to compete for less and less management attention and funding in order to survive. In most companies, the birth of a new idea, through a need to solve a specific problem or as a result of dedicated R&D in a new field, usually represents <1% of the total effort and resource required for successful implementation and exploitation in a market. The migration from concept to product and 'making it happen' is a tough call and one that now seems to be migrating outside the corporate umbrella…..
Word Count = 120
Broadband Won't Happen By Accident
I can remember paying for computing time by the minute, data storage by the kByte and taking a lunch break during downloads and printing, and when batch computing meant waiting overnight to see if programs had compiled. I can also remember teletypes at 110 Baud being replaced by VDUs at 300, 600, 1200, and 2400 Baud. When only rich people had a telephone, mobile phones had not been invented, and all telecoms was expensive. So what happened? Integrated circuits and fibre optics changed everything. Processing power, storage and data transmission accelerated in speed and density whilst costs plummeted. I can now afford a 100Mbit/s LAN, and 11Mbit/s Wireless LAN in my home. Every computer has a 1GHz clock and 500MByte of RAM, and a 280GByte server takes care of all storage and back up. And until recently my WWW access was a 2Mbit/s radio link. This might all seem extravagant, but to my youngest son it all sucks. And he is right; it is wholly inadequate for a multi-media world. Believe me, life begins at 100Mbit/s and when we perceive response times to be less than a second.
Word Count = 188
Transparent Optical Networking
Much thinking and expectation is conditioned by our history of radio and copper cables of constrained bandwidths with high distance related costs; centralized switching and services, massively complex software and interfaces. However, with photonics we see a new regime of very low cost transmission and switching with the migration of intelligence to the periphery, total customer control of services, distributed amplification and routing, IP over DWDM dominating over TDM for bandwidth on demand. It is now certain that most of the established network and systems wisdom's, practices and operating regimes overturned and replaced by new modes and concepts. People are talking about overprovision, a bandwidth glut…are they in for a surprise…it appears they don't understand the impact of 2^N because it looks to be such an innocent function!
Word Count = 128
Networks That Live
Very few people make mobile phone calls when motorway traffic is in free flow. But when there is an accident, over 1000 people will try to call office and home in less than 3 minutes. Similarly for aircraft and trains that are late, 100s will be on their mobile phones in minutes. This is chaos in the mathematical sense and a far cry from a well behaved telephone network with a peak to mean traffic ratio of <=4:1. On the Internet this ratio often exceeds 1000:1. People are attracted to sites at the same time and swarming is a natural outcome of any network activity involving societies of people and machines. Whilst we build structured and complex systems to complete essentially simple tasks, Mother Nature does the reverse. Ants and bees complete incredibly complex tasks with little hierarchy and very simple communication channels. Artificial life is a new area that offers novel solutions to the management of chaos. It involves sexual reproduction, competition, survival of the fittest, and evolution. In the future, networks will either be alive or dead.
Word Count = 179
"Well Dave I didn't quite make it - yet"! 2001 has long gone and HAL still hasn't arrived. I had hoped to be able to talk and type, have a natural conversation with machines, and have all the trivia of life automatically taken care of. But it all turned out to be more complex than we first figured and we may have to wait another decade to get on the far side of Moore's Wall before we see any sentient machines to match HAL. We still don't have any description, definition, measure or quantification of life, intelligence, complexity and scalability. However, I think we have at last figured out what is missing and what we have to do to realize this dream. Our dumb silicon machines have unravelled the mystery of DNA 20 years earlier than expected, and in doing so have pointed the way for their own future evolution. Sentient machines will require programmable silicon, reconfigurable software, a massive sensory input, and most of all the ability to evolve through some pseudo-sex/genetic process. It seems to me that HAL may be a bit late, but he is coming!
Word Count = 187
Chips With Everything
For over thirty years I have coveted the technologies of Captain James T Kirk and the crew of the Star Ship Enterprise. From their flip-top communicators, talking computers, and instant access to information, people and machines, it all seemed to be like magic. But suddenly our technology seems to have caught up with much of this SCFI vision. We are now realizing wearable communicators, smart terminals and tri-corders. So, what might be commonplace in the next 30 years?
Word Count = 78
The Humanoid Condition
Writers and moviemakers always portray the amalgam of man and machine in the style of some Borg or Terminator like creature mindlessly set on some collective and evil purpose. But 70 years ago many predicted a worse nightmare resulting from the industrial revolution and unifying impact of the production line. But it just did not happen - and we all now enjoy far richer and liberated lives as a result of automated production. Why are people so intent on looking for the downside of technology rather than the upside? And why do humanoid robots and artificial intelligent life forms built from silicon worry so many? In reality the cyborgs are already with us - and you may be sat next to one right now. People with electronic implants and prosthetics are everywhere.
Word Count = 136
Hubble Bubble & Panic
Take a medium size cooking pot, half fill it with water, toss in a handful of politicians, add a pinch of ignorance and a generous sprinkle of irresponsible journalism. Add a manager or two, a dash of uncertainty and a little religious fervor, and gently bring to the boil. In just a few minutes you will have a bubbling cauldron of panic. The last few years have witnessed excessive and erroneous hyperbole on Y2K, GM foods, Mad Cow Desease, Anthrax, mobile phones cooking our brains, cloning, and oral contraceptives. The list is endless, and the reporting mercilessly inaccurate and superficial, as the media makes every effort to perturb society with the distorted reporting. What is the truth? Where is the real risk?
Word Count = 122
Don't Silicomorphise Me
A member of the Artificial Life community recently pleaded that we should not anthropomorphise machines because they might not like it. Well, I feel as if I am being Silicomorphised by technology - and I don't like it! Since the industrial revolution we have been bending people into technology. Well, it really is time to start bending technology into people - it is supposed to help and not hinder us. But technology has been limited, and only recently have we been able to humanise machines. If information access equates to power, then usability becomes a moral issue, and we are all at risk. The question is - can we rise to the challenge - do we know enough about humans to realise better environments?
Word Count = 124
Our ability to generate information and transport it around the planet is changing the way we communicate, work and live. There is not a single aspect of our future that will go untouched by technology. The changes we are about to witness will overshadow the impact of the printed word, industrial revolution, and physical transport. How will we view this future, and increasingly virtual, world? Perhaps we will consider that: -
Home is where the heart is
Business is where the brain is
Office is where the user is
Value is where the information is
Word Count = 95
Staying In The Race
In evolutionary terms humankind is both in a cul-de-sac - we are going nowhere! Whilst our wet ware (the brain between our ears) quadrupled in physical capacity over a mere 100,000 years, the last 15,000 years has seen no significant change. Moreover, neither will the next 15,000, for it looks to have reached the end of the road. So if we as a species are to keep up with a world of technology, that is changing faster than we can naturally accommodate, we have only one course of action. We have to embrace technology itself to help us cope with accelerating changes - we have to fight fire with fire.
Word Count = 109
Flouting The Law!
Every new frontier we discover is inherently lawless and thereby full of new and liberating freedoms, and as a species we revel in the opportunity afforded by zero constraint. Not that we generally seek to be dishonest or commit crimes, but by our desire to explore the boundaries of what is safe, proper, ethical, profitable (in the broadest sense of the word) and ultimately what is acceptable and sensible for our society. In the past legal systems had to contend with challenges on a human scale and timeframe that encompassed a specific society or nation. International law bridged the gap and often took decades to formulate and enact. But this was at a time before technology began to drive us, our society and our institutions, before our total dependency on a machine driven world that affords us our prosperity, well being and survival.
Word Count = 143
Flying Upside Down
Just when you thought you had the world all figured out some new paradigm busting technology comes along and changes the rules. Make no doubt about IT, the Internet and eBusiness is here to stay and will continue to create a myriad of new possibilities. The key question is; can today's leaders, managers and businesses survive - or do they have to be totally transformed? Can the grey hairs learn and respond fast enough? How we should train, think and respond?
"You must unlearn what you have learnt"
Yoda (The Empire Strikes Back)
Word Count = 92
Engineering With New Realities
The basis of all human understanding is fundamentally linked to our sensory abilities (dominated by visualization) followed by conceptualization and then true (and sometimes transitory) understanding. The difficulty is that we face a world where visualization is becoming increasingly difficult. Interestingly, in 1945, Richard Feynman was working on the Manhattan Project and stated that; "The single biggest problem we face is that of visualization." This is still true today and can increasingly be seen as a prime limitation to our further progress in a range of technologies.
Word Count = 87
Who would like a three click, one-second world? Drill down to anything you want in three clicks of a mouse, and it appears on your screen in under a second! The only prospect of realising this dream relies on end-to-end optical fibre all the way, and a minimum and controlled node hops.
Word Count = 53
IT Literate Or Retired
Imagine a school without books, pens, pencils or paper. Imagine this school with children that can read and write, but with teachers who cannot, and you have a metaphor of the information age in which we live. Whilst our children are embracing IT and rapidly gaining skills, the teaching profession remains dominated by a population resisting, or unable to see the need for, change. IT is not an 'instead of' but an 'as well as' technology. It is unlikely to replace the teacher or the institution, but it will change their nature. In future, education will have to be more available, just in time, and on line as it becomes a continuous life long process. We are probably looking at changes greater than those introduced by the migration from the quill pen, to the printing press and the felt tip. One change will create another, and a new breed of educator will emerge, IT literate, or retired!
Word Count = 157
Medicine In Crisis
Medicine and care face an exponential growth in patient expectation and the raw material of cure - information. How are clinicians and doctors to cope with the growth of information and techniques when medical processes have changed little since Hippocrates? Visualisation, VR, telepresence and AI probably offer the only route to a more rapid and deeper understanding through direct experience.
Word Count = 60
The Ratchet Of Technology
Five hundred years ago 85% of the UK population was dedicated to farming; 90% of children were dead before the age of five; and people struggled to survive. Fifty years ago very few had good sanitation, transport, electricity, radio, TV or telephones. Today, only 2% are employed in food production; 15% in manufacturing industry; the IT economy dominates; we can travel anywhere and communicate with anyone, and enjoy better living conditions than ever before. Technological progress is like a ratchet - a one-way journey - going back is never an option because it dictates the population our planet can support. Everything we eat, wear, use and do is dependent on technology that sees successive generations healthier, better fed, clothed, and living richer lives. Without technology we will understand nothing of our world; disease and war will prosper, and our ability to act foolishly toward spaceship earth will grow.
Word Count = 148
A World Of Bits
Until recently our world was dominated by atoms, but it is now dominated by bits. The chip cost of a car has overtaken the metal cost, and soon the software cost will overtake both. Switch off the computers and/or the telecommunication networks and there is no food, water, sanitation, heat, light, power, transport or clothing. And there is no going back! The human population has grown in concert with the safety, security and comfort afforded by technology. We are all healthier, better educated, and living longer, in larger numbers than ever before in our history. What does the future hold? Should we be worried, or just concerned? How do we take advantage of a future of instant gratification, information and communication? Well, many of our old institutions and working practices founded in the 16th Century will have to go. A world of bits does not recognize the limits of physical geography or even nationhood - it is global.
Word Count = 158
The Virtual University
Education is under increasing pressure to be more responsive to the needs of industry and society whilst becoming more cost effective. This poses significant difficulties in many countries that do not have large universities. In such cases departments of only 20 - 50 staff trying to teach across a rapidly expanding range of topics at depths ranging from first degree through to post graduate research. The key problem is the lack of critical mass that would allow specialists to survive and be effective. It is highly unlikely that the pressure will recede and it is therefore both inevitable and desirable that some radical change is realized.
Word Count = 108
The Information Superfootpath
From all the hype, and public debate, it might be expected that someone somewhere had specified exactly what an information superhighway is - but, nowhere is there definition. For sure the super highway is not: Internet, Cellular Radio, PSTN, ISDN, ADSL, ATM, Satellite or Cable TV. Neither is it information transported over networks that are asymmetric, or incur excessive delays, or constrains bit rates to less then 1 Gbit/s. The superhighway is ultimately about instant gratification and access to information at anytime in the right form and at the right price. As we are able to absorb information at up to 1Gbit/s and perceive delays of the order of 30ms, information delivery and interaction at slower rates is irritating and disruptive. In today's networks delays of several seconds are common and fundamentally limit our rate of work. The question is, will the much-heralded Superhighway improve things significantly? Without some design, planning and co-ordinated action, the answer is probably not!
Word Count = 159
Business, People & Technology On The Move
The advance of IT has seen companies downsize, reorganize, and virtualize, but many have not realized the radical change of mindset and practices necessary for success. Hierarchical and controlist regimes do not translate effectively into bit-based economies. The reason? One is a slow random world, and the other fast and chaotic, where the natural mode is to be slightly out of control. The division between work and play has now become blurred. Work is no longer a place, but an activity, undertaken on the move in a 24 hour economy demanding decisions in hours and not days. Radically rethinking business to exploit new and rapidly developing opportunities goes hand-in-hand with modeling and experimenting. Future advances and applications of technology will create ever faster moving markets and organizations, and tried and tested working practices may or may not work…..
Word Count = 138
Voice Over IP
Nothing much seems to have happened with telephony since it was invented in 1876. Dedicated circuits connect telephone to telephone through a human operator or automatic switch. Making 3 or 4 calls a day for 3 or 4 minutes duration at random times has allowed the aggregation of traffic to achieve economy of scale. Nothing much would have changed had it not been for the Internet and the provision of packet, instead of circuit switching. Here economy is achieved by totally filling communication pipes by interleaving data packets from a myriad of machines. A counter intuitive outcome is the realisation that this technology can now support telephony applications running on PCs, PDAs and conventional telephones. The incredible fall in the cost of bandwidth, processing power and storage has made this possible. We can now afford to waste what was an expensive resource to realise extremely simple and diverse networks that will change our mode and manner of communication.
Word Count = 158
Can We All Be Polymaths?
A resurrected Archimedes would be staggered by the technological advancements made by the human race since his death. At the same time he would be amazed to find that little progress had been made in teaching methods. He might then be prompted to ask then obvious question; why are you not using all of this wonderful technology to help teach and enlighten your students?
Word Count = 64
Time & Emotion
Our ability to create software improves by a mere 5% p.a. or so, whilst hardware progresses at about 35%, and bandwidth at over 80%. Why then do we invest in an inverse proportion? Software will never give us realistic video conferencing, hi-fi telephones, or any really advanced means of telecommunication. In fact it tends to clog up and restrict our ability to communicate whilst introducing unknown failure mechanisms, and reduces the overall reliability of systems and networks. It seems that the lessons and folklore established over the 120-year history of the telephone network, and 50 years of digital computing somehow manage to survive year on year. Bandwidth is expensive, distance is important; memory and processing power cost money seem to be an engrained credo. But all of this is blatantly wrong, and on an accelerating scale.
Word Count = 136
Bandwidth - The Lubricant of Human Progress
Throughout my professional life I witnessed people in the telecommunications industry ask the most facile of questions; who could possibly want 2Mbit/s and what would they use it for? It appears that the entire industry has never been able to understand over the past 30 years as it has continuously asked why customers would want 8, 32, 140, 565, 2400, 10,000Mbit/s. Imagine a car salesman asking you why you want a car and what you intend doing with it, and then dictating that you should really buy a scooter! In the same way physical transport enabled the creation of a global economy of atoms, telecommunications is is creating a global economy of bits. There can never be enough bandwidth. We always have needed, and will always need, more. We demand more bandwidth, and so do our machines, and as everything goes on line the demand will just continue to grow exponentially. The good news is - bandwidth is free - and we have an infinite supply.
Word Count = 164
The Future Of Technology
A multi-media look at the increasing acceleration toward Moore's Wall, the disruption on the way, and what we might find on the other side…
Our world is now dominated by bits and founded on infinite markets of exponential growth. Switch off the computers and/or networks and there would be no fresh water, sanitation, food, heat, light, power, transport, clothing or commerce. And there is no going back - our society would be totally dysfunctional without machines. In the next phase machines will be increasingly online, sensory, connected, and engaged in commerce. A new raft of wireless technologies will see Parasitic Networks of multi-functional devices communicating and trading without our intervention to realise another spurt in the creation of new markets, management and operational opportunities. The role and survival of the old companies is more in doubt that ever before, and our role in a machine-dominated society is up for grabs. Ideally we will establish a symbiotic relationship with silicon, but if we do not, then...
Word Count = 140
Resistance Is Futile - And Dangerous!
We are migrating from a stable and linear world of concentrated knowledge and wisdom to one of non-linearity, chaos, and distributed ignorance. And in a counter intuitive twist only made possible by IT, we all know and understand less whilst being increasingly capable at the same time. Here we are with the sum total of human knowledge doubling in less than 12 months, with an education system and inherent learning ability more attuned to the world of Charles Dickens than Star Trek, how then are we progressing rather than just surviving, or going under? The answer lies in our ability to rapidly access information and to network people and machines across the planet. Computers magnify our intellect and abilities, and inflate the IQ of organisations, providing that is, we rise to the challenge of IT and team working. It is not that resistance is futile, but it is incredibly damaging. Those managers, people and organisations that fail to adapt will not survive, but those that do can look forward to an exciting and bumpy ride.
Word Count = 175
Network Or Nowork
When the 18th Century canal owners first saw a railway train they asked a most fundamental question. Why would coal want to travel at 60mph? When the Wright brothers made the first powered flight the pundits asked another fundamental question. Why would people want to fly and where would they fly too? Today the answers are obvious, and yet we now have people questioning the need for wide-band communication and rapid networking. But the answers are obvious. The bits now rule the atoms, and when one or other flows so does the rest. Even more importantly the propagation of memes (ideas and concepts) are no longer constrained by time or distance - if that is - we choose to opt for freedom of communication, association, and networking. This is the single most important, and the most counterintuitive, aspect of the IT revolution. In the old world individuals and companies sought to be powerful by controlling information and ideas, today they have to become influential by giving them away.
Word Count = 164
IT & Life Sciences - Two Disciplines Undergoing Revolution
Our species has discovered and learnt more in the past 50 years than it's entire pre-history. Without computers we would, relatively speaking, know nothing. For Life Sciences and IT the race is now between carbon and silicon life and perhaps their eventual merger. One without the other is now inconceivable.
Word Count = 50
Emmotional Bits Matter?We crave instant access to everything on the move
Video telephones & conferencing don't sell because they don't work
Internet will eclipse the telephone network by 2003
Our persona is different on screen, in voice and in text
Chips in everything will soon see us interacting with more machines than people
Word Count = 56
A Bigger Bang Per Buck
Operational Research (OR) is about Optimisation, getting the biggest bang per buck. It is something we all do naturally when shopping, buying, engaging in sport or DIY. We try to conserve our energy; money, raw materials and time in achieving achieve some objective or outcome. And whilst for us as individuals this is largely intuitive, often requiring little thought or calculation, it turns out to quite a science for complex systems. For example, the delivery of a package across country to another may seem a simple enough task, but if a company has to deliver 30M such packages a day, then optimising the network to minimize both time and cost is a major problem. Likewise the scheduling of an airline, supplying food and drink, or running a production line assembling TV sets with components supplied from 11 different companies in 8 different countries poses significant problems. What happens when people get it wrong? How about power outages in CA, Internet log jams, mobile phone networks that suddenly stop working, or insufficient Cabbage Patch Dolls for Christmas! Yep, OR is about getting it right at a minimal cost! So why do things go wrong? It should be simple, but….
Word Count = 198
Mobility & Wireless or 'Mega-Flops & Micro-Wonders'
It took over 100 years to install 28M phone lines in the UK, but only 11 years to deploy 35M mobile phones. No engineer, planner or marketer guessed that so many would spend so much for so little in such a short time. What happened to our need for crystal clear speech, reliability, and 8 hours of telephone exchange battery back up? It seems we value mobility above almost everything. Even the scaremongers desperately trying to find some health and/or security risk from the microwave radiation do not put us off. It appears we want to be mobile no matter what. WAP failed & 3G is in deep trouble, so what happens next? Will it really be wireless everything - where our clothes, cars, homes, appliances, and almost everything we own always on-line? Will WLANs really wipe out the Telco's? My guess - YES! The Internet, IT and mobility have made the industrial revolution look like a picnic, and new technologies may be even more impactive on society and the way we work and live.
Word Count = 174