Tags: Cerf, Google, Kurzweil, Media-X, Moffett, Singularity University, Stanford
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Getting back to earth after a great summer culminating in the wedding of my elder son, I came back to the Guardian’s report of this summer’s Singularity University summer school in Silicon Valley. At first view, it sounds like geek heaven: nine weeks in the former Moffett Airfield base, with high profile names like Vint Cerf, Nobel prizewinners and investors; and covering topics from the sub-microscopic (nanotechnology) to the super-macro scale (space science). Participants paid US$25K to attend. What’s it about?
Singularity University (SU from now on) has as its masthead mission: “Preparing humanity for accelerating technological change”. At greater length, this becomes: to “assemble, educate and inspire … leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges”. The masthead is somewhat misleading; this is about leading and driving technology, not just reacting to it; but it is about using technology to respond to and overcome “some of the planet’s major problems”.
It was, the Guardian says, the brainchild of the legendary Ray Kurzweil (Chancellor) and space flight pioneer Peter Diamandis (Vice Chancellor). There’s significant support from Google and from Stanford University; Cerf, of course, is now on the Google staff and Stanford’s links include their Media-X research mediation network for industry.
I won’t go over the list of ideas and projects which the Guardian’s report describes; follow the link below to read the article, or go to SU’s overview video linked below.
But the article is perhaps misleading. When I read it, I had the impression of a one-off summer school. Far from it: SU runs ongoing executive programmes and graduate programmes, and the reported graduate session this year was a pilot for an annual event. The pilot was limited to 40 students. In future, the numbers will be treble this.
Check it out! And by the way, when you land on the home page, there’s a rotating series of photos from this year’s event. There are three panels at left. Two of them link to intake information. It isn’t immediately obvious that the third is the caption for the current pic. The Overview, from the top menu, provides a list of SU’s guiding lights.
The singularity, if I’ve understood it correctly (and only from the outline, not from reading the book), is the point at which human intelligence becomes primarily non-biological: the future Kurzweil envisages is one where the electronic brain-power we deploy comes to dominate human intelligence. So you might also like to look at Ray Kurzweil’s singularity.com website, with details of his book “The Singularity is Near” and links to notes which are, in his view, pointers in that direction.
• Singularity University
• A school for changing the world, The Guardian (Technology section), 3 Sept 2009. There are links to coverage in The Guardian’s weekly tech podcast, and to a picture gallery
• The Singulary is Near: book, and other resources
Bing(o) or B(or)ing? 30 Jul 2009Posted by Tony Law in Consumerization, Impact of IT, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
Tags: Bing, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!
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Lots of developments recently for Microsoft-watchers to get their teeth into. I’ve not picked up the individual announcements here, because lots of other people do it; but it’s time for a round up.
So the most recent announcement is Microsoft’s at-long-last deal with Yahoo! which will move Microsoft’s Bing search technology into Yahoo’s space. Subject to regulatory approval it might go live next year.
Well I haven’t seriously tried Bing, so this isn’t a technical evaluation. But for a business analysis of the potential impact of the deal (or lack of it), there’s an interesting discussion on Knowledge@Wharton. In brief, they suggest, the real target of Bing wasn’t Google but precisely to achieve the kind of deal now done with Yahoo. And that the impact on market share will be negligible despite the marketing deals. People like Google. And perhaps that the smaller deal will “invite less anti-trust scrutiny” than last year’s proposal to swallow Yahoo entire.
There’s a joint website called “Choice. Value. Innovation”, set up as if it were a fully fledged independent company with “Investor Relations” and “Press Room”. Draw your own conclusions.
What else? BOPS of course; Microsoft’s Business Online Productivity Suite. The “Standard” package capitalises on existing brands (or tweaks them to work outside the office perimeter): Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting, and Office Communications Online.
So BOPS It doesn’t occupy the same space as Google Docs or other offerings like ThinkFree (who I visited with a study tour to Silicon Valley in 2006 and, I must admit, didn’t think they’d still be here by now). It does overlap Google Wave, which I reviewed recently. Gizmodo reports that Office 2010 Web apps will be free; Office Live, Windows Live and Azure exist. Either we can believe that Microsoft is still playing catch-up, when there’s so much technology already out there that’s integrated and works; or we can see the pattern of a lot of pieces about to come together and create something really powerful
Microsoft still owns the business IT mindset. Gartner quote a case study with a headlinecollaboration cost reduction of 20% So what do you think?
• Microsoft-Yahoo a Yawn for Google, Knowledge@Wharton, 29 Jul 2009
• Microsoft, Yahoo! Change Search Landscape, Microsoft Press Pass, 29 Jul 2009, featuring videos from both Ballmer of Microsoft and Bartz of Yahoo!
• Choice, Value. Innovation.
• Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, Microsoft
• Move to Microsoft BPOS Cuts Collaboration Costs by 20%, Gartner, 9 Jul 2009 (client access only to full document)
• Microsoft Office 2010 Web Apps Will Be Free; Testing Starts Today, Gizmodo, 13 Jul 2009
• Microsoft Windows Live
• Microsoft Office Live and Office Live Small Business Edition
• Microsoft Windows Azure
Chrome, Microsoft and Linux 9 Jul 2009Posted by Tony Law in Consumerization, Impact of IT, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
Tags: browser, Chrome, Google
So Google’s Chrome OS is finally seeing the light of day, with the pitch that it’s a lightweight software base designed to get people up and active on the web easily. A few comments.
First: it’s new in the sense that Mac OS X was new; it’s built on Unix – Linux this time (ok I do know the difference) instead of BSD, but the principle is the same.
Second: maybe this explains why the Chrome browser hasn’t made it to the Mac market. Seems like the browser was just the pilot for this larger project, to carry the fight to Microsoft.
Third: interestingly, in my newspaper (The Guardian), the Chrome OS announcement makes it into the main news pages but the technology section, in the print edition, carries two other apparently unconnected articles. The combination is interesting. One is a long interview with Google’s Marissa Mayer about the future of search which, Mayer suggests, is tied up with real-time information (and that means Twitter). The other is a Victor Keegan Opinion column discussing why Asus dropped Linux as its netbook platform in favour of Windows and a string of non-free services. Keegan, though, hasn’t caught up on the Chrome OS announcement. It would be interesting to know what he thinks.
Oh, and hidden in the Mayer interview is the interesting snippet that Google has been conducting research on which shade of blue for a link is most likely to encourage a user to click through. More blue is better than more green, apparently. I must check my website!
• Introducing the Google Chrome OS, Official Google Blog, 7 Jul 2009
• Google targets Microsoft with new operating system, Guardian, 8 Jul 2009 (print edition 9th July) – it’s worth doing a search on the Guardian website for “Chrome OS” as there are several other articles
• Did Microsoft force Asus to axe Linux?, Victor Keegan, Guardian, 8 Jul 2009 (print edition 9th July)
Tags: Cuil, Google, IBM Pensieve, Search engine
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A Basex newsletter alerted me to Cuil, a new search engine which claims to index three times as much of the Web as Google and to do a better job of relevance.
Well, I’m not sure. I tested it on the query of the moment: a tool that IBM Research in Haifa are calling the Pensieve. If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, that won’t mean much; but suffice it to say that I expect any search for just Pensieve to throw up more Potter than IBM.
Cuil has no “Advanced Search” facility, at least not yet. So I searched for “IBM Pensieve” (in that order). Cuil does a nice job of displaying its first eight or ten results; it’s a nicely styled page and, at first sight, a lot easier to navigate than Google’s list. But that’s just a nice style sheet I guess. What matters most is results.
So: Cuil’s first two results were both references to the primary research on IBM’s research pages. It was unfortunate that both of them, when clicked, gave Error 404; IBM have presumably moved them since they were indexed. Cuil also found a reference to research at Purdue University which is part of the project. But the rest of the 8 results were irrelevant.
Google’s first page of results were all connected to the IBM project. But none of them were direct references to the primary research. The one ibm.com reference was to a video page spanning a range of topics. The rest were commentary from a range of sources.
But Google improved when I added “ibm.com” to the search terms and delivered the link you see below – better, in fact, than the one I found for myself by using the search on ibm.com. Cuil, at this point, returned no hits.
Watch this space, I guess. But I ain’t switching my default search engine just yet
PS – Pensieve uses the images, sounds, and text recorded on mobile devices to help people recall names, faces, conversations and other important information.
• Made in IBM Labs: IBM Research Develops Technology to Aid Human Memory, IBM Press Room, 29 Jul 2008 (with video)
Tags: Forrester, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!
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The news of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo! broke in the Saturday papers, and there’s a mass of coverage. It’s worth collecting some of the initial comments. Both companies spread wide, and some people – and companies – will find themselves buying services from Microsoft when, perhaps, they deliberately chose not to. In the UK, for example, a lot of broadband internet is supplied by a BT/Yahoo! joint offering so there’s an immediate potential impact there.
Google certainly think it’s worth reacting to. They fielded David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer; and he immediately raises the spectre of Microsoft’s “legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses” to encourage regulators, and consumers, to sit up and take notice. And to position Google as the champion of the open internet.
In business terms, does it make sense? What have Yahoo! got that Microsoft haven’t? The Guardian tagged the bid as and admission of failure by Microsoft and an attempt to “buy its way into the 21st Century”. Microsoft, it says, maintained its dominance of desktop and office software; but Google ate its lunch in search and, along with the open source movement, is making inroads into the applications market. Yahoo! dominated search until Google came along, but is there any way that pooling Yahoo! and Microsoft’s resources would magically create a Google-beater here? There’s analysis of this one from The Observer (that’s The Guardian‘s Sunday sister) and one interesting quote is from a financial analyst who says “We see Google as a search business, but it is a media company that makes all its money from advertising”. Would the combine challenge Google in this space? Adding their two market shares doesn’t win, and mergers don’t create new ideas automatically. But it’s perhaps a better indicator of why Microsoft’s made the move, and where it thinks the IT business is going. And of a shift in the media business too.
Forrester’s Charlene Li blogs about this in Groundswell and about the way both companies need to play catch-up in social computing.. She looks at the jewels in a potential combined portfolio: Flickr and del.icio.us, Microsoft’s investment in Facebook, and so on. She raises the possibility of Yahoo! selling Google its search advertising to defend itself (remember this is a hostile bid), raising the cash to stay otherwise independent. Google did this kind of deal with MySpace.
This isn’t an enterprise IT-oriented merger bid; indeed Computerworld‘s reaction is that it might distract Microsoft from the enterprise’s primary business with Microsoft which is precisely desktop and office software. It’s about the social web, advertising and media. But if (when) social networking finally gets adopted by enterprises – Faceforce, the link between Salesforce.com and Facebook, is a straw in the wind – then there would be an impact there too. As Charlene puts it, “people go where their friends are”. There’s a lot more comment out there, as you’d expect; no substitute for going looking for yourself – no doubt via your favourite search engine …
Yahoo! and the future of the Internet Official Google Blog, 3 Feb 2008
Microsoft tries to buy way into 21st century The Guardian expert comment, 2 Feb 2008; alternatively, go to the homepage at guardian.co.uk and search Yahoo Microsoft
Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo!: What it meansCharlene Li, Groundswell, 1 Feb 2008
Would a Microsoft-Yahoo deal out Google Google? Computerworld, 1 Feb 2008
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