31 October 2008
30 October 2008
29 October 2008
"Many people would like to develop intelligent computerised surveillance systems. The perceived need for such systems is stimulating the development of devices that can both recognise people and objects and also detect suspicious behaviour."Devices like lie detectors and these new systems I call Suspicion Engines. This is a blossoming innovation domain, and one of the topics in our MIT Neurotechnology Ventures class. And just yesterday, I met with Patrick Sobalvarro, the MIT alum co-founder of Intellivid, which intelligently analyzes CCTV videostreams in retail stores for security and theft prevention. And another MIT alum friend, Malay Kundu, is building up StopLift, also a vision system doing retail security, but specifically targeting the checkout line and expensive lossage problems such as "sweethearting". Several other emergent example solutions are mentioned in the Economist article, including behavior-recognition systems, walking gait analytics, linger-loiter analytics, facial "micro-expression" sensors, physiometrics such as skin temp and sweating and breathing rate, and more. Interestingly, they mention science fiction author Philip K. Dick’s “pre-crime” technology from his short story Minority Report. Another great SF story imagining similar future technology is James L. Halperin's Truth Machine about a world with really good lie detectors everywhere and the radical economic and socio-political possibilities surrounding such a transformative innovation. The Economist warns:
"To the historically minded it smacks of polygraphs, the so-called lie-detectors that rely on measuring physiological correlates of stress. Those have had a patchy and controversial history, fingering nervous innocents while acquitting practised liars. Supporters of hostile-intent systems argue that the computers will not be taking over completely, and human security agents will always remain the final arbiters."Indeed, it's the human-in-the-loop which is really important -- and why I call these systems Suspicion Engines -- they serve to spotlight the most suspicious behavior at a given time, thus boosting the odds that we sense and intervene in the face of malicious intentions.
"The Living Planet Report asserts that demands on natural resources overreach what the Earth can sustain by almost a third. It says that more than three quarters of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outstripping environmental renewal. This makes them "ecological debtors", meaning that they are drawing - and often overdrawing - on the agricultural land, forests, seas and resources of other countries to sustain them."
28 October 2008
- Honing in on the target market and products;
- With a core technology platform, what's the first application;
- How to identify and connect with customers;
- What's in a great plan;
- Building the actual business.
Today Aleva Neurotheropeutics is an early-stage medical device startup developing implantable microelectrodes used in Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy for neurological diseases. Aleva's target customers are the neurosurgeons who perform Deep Brain Stimulation therapy using implantable neurostimulators and who want to improve the efficiency and success rate of the therapy while decreasing surgery time and complexity. Paul spotlighted some cool aspects of Aleva history, including successful participation in business plan competitions, raising innovation grants, and the power of the US-Swiss venture network -- the link between Paul and his CTO co-founder was brokered by MIT alumnus Pascal Marmier, Consul-Director of swissnex here in Cambridge, MA. The business remains a geo-hybrid, co-located with R&D in Lausanne, Switzerland and business operations in Boston-metro in the USA.
27 October 2008
"Thousands of Africans try to make the journey to Europe each year as illegal migrants - risking people smugglers, deserts, sea crossings and the possibility of being sent home, all for the dream of a better life."
"Having migrated, many migrants send money home to family they have left behind. Billions of dollars each year is sent back to Africa from the diaspora around the world - in some cases making up a sizeable chunk of the home country's GDP."
- Community Culture and Standards -- The scope and importance of students' choice in pursuing their own interests in each of these aspects, and the self-developed and self-owned nature of the culture that results, are the strengths that underlie MIT's school spirit and give us a unique creative intensity. MIT must be careful not to let organizational bureaucracy or “professionalization” diminish the powerful experiential learning and risk-taking that are crucial to forging and sharpening our innovative “MIT edge”.
- Connecting Strategy and Operations -- When everyday administrator action is at odds with overarching Institute strategy, confusion reigns in the student ranks. Local optimization in Institute decision-making is a root cause of a great deal of student frustration. Students desire transparency, accountability, and competence. We ought to strive for a well thought through and integrative total student experience, one that weaves together all the myriad elements of our time at MIT and beyond.
- Institute Economics -- The Institute’s cost-structure, tuition duties, deployment of endowment income, and capacity to deal with sponsor volatility all directly affect student life. MIT students are especially sensitive to perceived misallocations of money and too often believe that some part of MIT is wasting it. Perhaps this is in ignorance of the “full picture”. Perhaps, however, it is a correct student perception. True transparency and accountability would allow us all to discern the difference.
26 October 2008
Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue." A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign. "She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. "Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party." "Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."And those are quotes from the support team. Yikes.
25 October 2008
Many children in Sadr City shoulder responsibilities beyond their age, some not in their teens yet but earning a living to support their families. School, and a better life, are just a wistful dream. The new school year began recently, but not for Karrar Raad, 12, and his 10-year-old brother, Allawi. They work for car mechanics in adjacent garages that are smaller than a rich lady's closet. Their father is ill and has no job, and the boys have to support eight children and two adults. They earn $2.70 a day, plus tips. "I'm making a living for my family," said Karrar, a willowy kid with nervous eyes and oil-stained trousers. "I'd like to go to school. I've never been in one. Not a single day. My friends tell me school is very beautiful."Yes, it is, something which I hope Karrar and Allawi -- and their peers -- will soon see directly through their own eyes.
24 October 2008
23 October 2008
Bring elegant, affordable transportation to the world. RevoPower's Wheel has a place as both a lifestyle product as well as a transport product. As the world's supply of petroleum dwindles, fuel efficiency for personal transportation will become the central issue for both developed and third world nations. RevoPower intends to service that market and make the technology available in a variety of forms.Fantastic! Check out the blow-apart view...
20 October 2008
To raise awareness about the challenges of global poverty as well as what actions can be taken against it. We plan to get all of MIT -- undergraduates, grad students, staff, & faculty -- involved and thinking about global poverty and what can be done about it. This week isn't just about learning about poverty, it's about empowering individuals to use their skills and expertise to make a difference. Poverty Week will be full of various talks, documentaries, interactive art displays, and more. Come participate in a debate about domestic poverty or browse through poverty relief projects that MIT students have done.
~ The GPI Motto ~
We can be the generation that eradicates
poverty, will you be a part of it?
Gudiya, whose name means doll in Hindi, boiled a pot of lentils for her family on what passes here for a stove -- a pile of kindling surrounded by rocks. That's because this is Gudiya's home: a construction site. Gudiya has grown used to being shuttled from one such site to another. Two years ago, her parents gave up farming for jobs spawned by New Delhi's construction bonanza. They have helped build shopping malls, houses and highways, aspiring to one day be part of a new, more prosperous India. But with every glass-and-steel skyscraper and high-tech call center that goes up, a slum also rises. And efforts to demolish those slums have only pushed thousands of migrant worker families like Gudiya's to squat in the very structures they are building...See more in Emily Wax's video story...
For most migrant workers in India, like Gudiya's parents, the decision to work in construction is born of a lack of options. For a few, it offers a chance for social mobility. In Gudiya's case, she is able to attend a Mobile Creches primary school, a small concrete structure on the dusty Gurgaon construction site...
"I enjoy being a learner so much. Math is my favorite," said Gudiya, whose tiny ribs show through her dress. She looks several years younger than her age... "It's not as safe as the village. But at least here she has some schooling," said Vimal, her mother. "I will stay working under the sun's hot fires to see my child get even a little learning done, so she won't be dumb like me and have to carry loads for the rich people."
The 1920-30s was a time of tremendous innovation in metropolitan London, especially in the realm of public transport and urban design. This is when the clean lines of the Underground logo first emerged, when clear san serif fonts were used throughout, newly built stations designed along modernist lines, and -- in a real triumph of urban innovation -- Harry Beck designed the Tube Map diagramming the routes of the Underground in a simple but quite readable and usable fashion! Design impressario Edward Tufte recommends Ken Garland's history book, Mr Beck's Underground Map, and if you're curious about a quick graphic history of Tube maps, check out the London Tube Map Archive! Here's a more contemporary version of Beck's map... Beck's delightful map has been emulated around the world -- including here in Boston -- and is a great illustration of simplicity in design. Consider how much more difficult it would be to understand the actual geographic mess of the real transit systems in cities worldwide! FYI, the BBC4 did a nice video review of this Tube history which you used to be able to find on Smashing Telly, but it seems now down.
19 October 2008
"Which is the President we need now?" "I've come to the conclusion... he is a transformational figure... I'll be voting for Senator Obama."As an aside, Powell said he is deeply troubled by Republican personal attacks on Mr Obama, especially false intimations that he was Muslim.
"Mr Obama is a lifelong Christian, not a Muslim", Powell said. But then he noted: “The really right answer is, what if he is?” “Is there something wrong with being Muslim in this country? No, that’s not America”.In this context, Powell mentions a photoessay in a magazine featuring a Muslim US soldier's gravestone, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. The photos are by Platon, published in the New Yorker, and here's the image of Corporal Khan's mother at his grave...
18 October 2008
She tells her students to look at her and believe that nothing is impossible. After flooring an opponent she tells them: "Don't think it's unbelievable. The physique doesn't matter." Sparring is regarded as the most effective method of teaching martial arts and senior Italian military officers hope the experience of being humiliated by Miss Wakabayshi will toughen up their soldiers. Miss Wakabayshi trained for many years to achieve her level of expertise and believes she can carry on defeating brawny soldiers for years to come. The term martial arts is synonymous with the Far East, but actually derives from Mars, the Roman god of war and literally means the "arts of war".
"English is now the business language. Rwanda is trying to be a knowledge-based economy. English is the language of research. We're trying to be a regional hub of ICT [information and communications technology] and English is the language of ICT. Rwanda is now in the East African Community, where the official language is English. Rwanda is trying to have a service industry as a priority - we don't have diamonds and minerals and all those things, we want tourism and all those guys speak English . . . China! The World Bank! The UN! Their first language is English. For God's sake, this is a noble decision."Word.
Many tech-and-media-savvy young Rwandans had already decided that their future lies in English. "I grew up speaking French," said Jean-Pierre Niyitanga, 25, who manages a media training project. His parents still speak to him in Kinyarwanda. But these days, he goes by J.P. and when he chats at Bourbon Coffee, it's in English.
17 October 2008
16 October 2008
As a port operator, stevedore, warehouser and freight forwarder, Bolloré handles 80% of west Africa’s exports (excluding oil) and 25% of east Africa’s—in short, nearly all of Africa’s cotton and cocoa, as well as much of its coffee, rubber, and timber. With offices in 42 African countries and 20,000 of his 31,000 employees based in Africa, Mr Bolloré is bullish on the continent’s prospects. Bolloré Africa Logistics accounts for $2 billion of the group’s $10 billion annual revenues. Its head, Dominique Lafont, predicts 12-17% annual growth for the division for the next five years. He believes better logistics are vital to reduce poverty in Africa. A new warehouse for perishable goods, or a new garage for repairing overland lorries, he reckons, create more lasting benefits to Africans than most aid projects do. Bolloré’s aim is to exploit the massive unrealised potential for trade between African countries by being the first to link the economies of the Francophone and English-speaking parts of Africa. It wants to do this by establishing a 26,000km (16,000 mile) pan-African network of “vital corridors”, making use of whatever infrastructure is available, with long sections of transit by barge down the Niger, Congo, and Nile rivers deep into the interior.Most excellent!