Friday, November 30, 2007

Global cell phone use at 50 percent

It's not a trivial waypoint. We are very, very connected, and technology adaption is very, very fast. And it's going to get faster.

Global cell phone use at 50 percent

It's not a trivial waypoint.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Biotech meets demography meets (as always) finance

Brandon Kein initiates the discussion about the possible costs of future life-extending therapies. Add to that the grim outlook of fiscal and pension systems even assuming no revolutionary breakthroughs in biotech, and you have the recipe for interesting times ahead.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The glue of globalization

Migration is so central to Western Union that forecasts of border movements drive the company’s stock. Its researchers outpace the Census Bureau in tracking migrant locations. Long synonymous with Morse code, the company now advertises in Tagalog and Twi and runs promotions for holidays as obscure as Phagwa and Fiji Day. Its executives hail migrants as “heroes” and once tried to oust a congressman because of his push for tougher immigration laws.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

When children aren't the future

Sent by Guido of the always interesting Globally Connected:

Japan has the world's highest proportion of elderly people. More than 20% of the population are now over the age of 65. By 2050, that figure is expected to rise to about 40%.

The year 2050 isn't that far away; for Japan to maintain economic viability (not to mention competitiveness), it will take a huge shift in economic, technological, and fiscal structures. They seem to be aware of the fact, at least.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

From the "shouldn't be surprising" department

Porsche makes more money from options trading than from cars. That's not a car-making company, that's a hedge fund with a funny portfolio.

I don't mean it in any demeaning sense; a financial engineering department is as necessary nowadays as an IT department (and for interestingly similar reasons). Of course, the fact that they are doing it doesn't imply that they are doing it right.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Some navel gazing

Let's call it the C Criteria: computational feasibility trumps legality. In other words, if something is computationally unfeasible it won't get done, even if the law says it should (a rather obvious assertion), and its more interesting counterpart, that computationally feasible things will get done, regardless of legality. It only takes one person anywhere having both the desire and the knowledge to make it happen, and presto!

I understand it's impossible for laws to predict situations derived from new technology, but unless at some point the political and legislative processes begin to pay attention to feasibility envelopes, we'll end up with legal systems too out of touch with reality to be useful at all, getting them ignored, and us in a terrible fix.

As seen in Batman Beyond

DARPA is asking Honeywell to develop a way to monitoring analysts' brainwaves to speed up intelligence analysis, an old idea that seems to be getting closer to application. Don't underestimate this and similar efforts: analysing information is the name of the game, be it military intel, market movements, biological data sets, or anything else. There are huge strategic and financial returns on finding out better ways to do these things, and whoever fails to keep up in the effort to understand more data more quickly is going to be at a serious disadvantage.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The future looks like Canada. I hope.

The RCMP announces that it will stop going after 'personal use' downloaders. In their own words, "It is too easy to copy these days and we do not know how to stop it."

True enough.

Over in the US, a proposed bill would tie up financial help to colleges to their anti-piracy initiatives.

Paul Graham wrote in his essay How to be Silicon Valley that a cutting-edge economy needs two things: nerds and rich people. The US is a relatively nice place to be rich, but it's certainly losing some of its attractiveness for nerds.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Civil UAV patrols in the UK, and Putin is gaining popularity in international polls. Maybe it's related to the half-flu I'm going through, but I'm worried.

Right now Russia is one of the most interesting countries to watch; it's probably at the forefront in applied criminal botnet technology, and Putin's handling of the country as basically an energy company with nuclear weapons is... Perhaps inspiring isn't quite the right word. I do worry, in any case, about political stability as the Russian demographic implosion goes on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A loop in your brain, coming up soon

At this point, I don't think the future-like aspect of this is the brain-computer interface for Google Earth, but the fact that it was developed in Austria and Slovenia; another indication that this is no longer cutting edge, and perhaps getting closer to wider application.