Category Archives: cool stuff

Mougayar on the New Economcy

I got this from Fred Wilson.

Those who follow this blog know that I follow Fred’s blog very closely and I iwll keep doing so. Fred writes about his area of business – venture capital, early stage investments. He writes well, and lots of things he says have value beyond the VC business. So check him out! Or  stay tuned here, as I comment a lot on what Fred is talking about.

I am re-posting a video that Fred shared here. If you have a bit of background on tokens and want to figure out where the market is headed, check out William Mougayar. Go for it!

Numeraire Live on Ethereum Blockchain

Check out the link of you want to learn more about Numeraire. It is pretty wild!.

Every now and then, we get new words in media that sound very odd at firdst and then go mainstream. I recall, for example when I first read about Wifi. Wifi? Right. You know, the wireless protocol. When I first heard of it, I thought it strange.

We are just now getting some new words that I think will go mainstream. They are blockchain and ehtereum. Blockchain is a technology. Ethereum uses that technology to offer us some cool new stuff. Sort of like the how the web uses the interent to enable me to transmit this blog post to you now.

Ehtereum can be used for lots of stuff. But its most easily understood use is to create e tockens. Tokens are somewhere between a coupon and a share of sock. They are a coupon that enable you to do something by owning it. They are a share to the extent that you can trade your tokens.

Why do we need tokens? Tokens create a new channel to make exchanges. To get this — think of Kickstarter. It is a great platform where people with ideas can ask for funding from folks who are looking for new ideas. If you like the idea, you pay in, and you get a prize. It works. Tokens take this a step further. Instead of paying in for a prize, you pay in for something that is a prize and that can be traded for money. In other words, you get to share in the appreication of the great idea.

This is very new — so hold onto your hats! No one really knows where it will go!

Your Army of Robots

Just a few years ago, I was posting about a robotic vacuum cleaner. Then came a robotic lawn mower. At first, neither of these products were worth it. But time has gone by, and these and other devices are starting to go mainstream.Mashable offers a fun list

Here are the main functions

  • personal transportation (the segway is finding a use)
  • robotic vacuum cleaner
  • robotic companionship
  • rootic window cleaning
  • robotic pool cleaner
  • robotic lawn mower
  • robotic pet feeder
  • robotic monitoring system

I am still waiting for the robotic laundry service that mixes cocktails and plays music while I learn to rhumba with my robotic dance instructor.


How Fat is Your Algae?

The oppotunity is huge. Find a sustainable and cheaper substitute for fossile fuels and you can add huge value to humanity. But where do we look? We are heavily invested in researching solar and wind. And this has produced results.

But there is another potential source – algae. We have known for a long time that algae can be coaxed to produce more fat, a type of fuel. But we have not found a way to make this happen at scale. Attempts to do so failed and were shut down in the 1990’s.

But Nick Stockton writes for Wired that researchers may have figured this out. They were able to do this because they have a new tool that prior teams did not – genetic engineering.

In 2005, Craig Venter founded Synthetic Genomics as a lab to capitalize on some of his breakthroughs in genome research. One of Venter’s big ambitions for the company would be succeeding where the DOE, and many other companies, had failed: in developing algae capable of producing fuel on an industrial scale. Venter imagined city-sized fields of algae out in the Arizona desert. In 2009, Synthetic Genomics partnered with Exxon Mobil, and the algae project sprung forward.

Check out the article for a closer look at the challenges they faced and have overcome. They figured out the triggering mechanism for fat production in a particular type of algae.

We do not have a product yet. But we have a path to products that could produce amazing results for mankind.

Very exciting!

Making a Car Every Six Seconds?

This is a post about automation, a topic that we hear a lot about these days. We hear that automation will take over a lot of jobs, and it probably will. We hear less about whta broader effects this may have on global economies.

This aspect of automation becomes a bit more clear when one takes a closer look at Elon Musk’s vision for Tesla. Cringely lays it out. Elon Musk is working on a robotic system that will drastically speed up the production of Teslas on a given assembly line.  The result? Check this out

Ford has 23 global assembly plants that built 6,651,000 cars and trucks in 2016. … Elon Musk can imagine a single Tesla factory producing 5.25 million cars per year per assembly line (remember the Model 3 is coming from a new assembly line built in the same Fremont factory). Were Tesla able to sell that many cars, they propose duplicating Ford’s entire global production capacity from one factory.

That may be hyperbole. But if it is not, and Tesla can sell its cars, Tesla will become insanely profitable. Ford, GM and the rest will be stuck with huge excess factory capacity and will be in the crapper for years as they retool.

Generalizing from this, factory design that incorporates automation in ways that drastically speeds up production may be the mother of all growth markets over the next years.

Stay tuned.

Want to be a Genius?

Most people would answer “of course!” Who would not want the cognitive power to be able to see reality at a higher level, and use that perspective to develop new knowledge?

The funny thing is that we are just now getting a better idea of how this happens. The old view is that genius is something that a few people are born with. Einstein comes to mind with his quirky look

Image result for Einstein

There is no doubt that Einstein was very smart. But what is less well known that when he worked on his own, he did not produce his greatest ideas. In fact, those came in a sengle period while he was instensely connected with other very smart people. As Steve Johnson pointed out some time ago — all of the great new ideas that we attribute to a single genius, in fact came out of extended conversations.

In other words, genius emerges out of a social context. BTW, that might explain why poor people tend to stay poor. Just look at the social context that they are stuck in. Only a very few heoes are able to break out of it.

So how does this social context work? What are the key components? Can they be reproduced? Great questions.  Here are a few answers.

We used to think that the social context looked a lot like school. Education was what enabled us to change our lives. We are now realizing that while school achieves some things, it does not build genius.

In fact, the social context works through team building. Teams are composed of individuals who are highly engaged in a shared challenge. Teams need (1) a defined goal that pushes them to accept a challenge that cannot immediately be overcome, (2) the opportunity to share resources, (3) appropriate communication, (4) strategic decision making, (4) measurable leveling up.

BTW, John Wooden would say that I have just described his notion of how a basketball team should practice.

This bag of components is the secret sauce that produces genius and it can be reproduced. And schools are starting to try to do this.

Let’s assume that I am right. Let’s project ourselves 50 years forward in time. And let’s assume that the current rate of producing genius out of people is around .01%. That means 1 out of every 1000 person creqates 1 bit of new knowledge that adds value to the world. Over 50 years, in a population of 1000 persons we get 1 great new indea. In a population of 5 billion? We get 5 million great new ideas. Not bad! Let’s say we could increase the rate to 1%. 1 out of every 100 people create new knowledge of the above type. In a population of 5 billion, we get 50 million great new ideas.

One more thought here. Ideas are not just a solution to a give problem. They are a resource that can be combined with other ideas to develop innovatoins. Like the idea of a steam engine (Watt) with boring technology that improved cannon  performance (Wilkinson). With 50 million new ideas, you get an explosoin of opportunity — if institutions are available to share them.

Wow! Consider, btw, that if individuals would have this capacity, individual contributions to institutions would become much, much more valuable. Who would be the boss then? Not folks who game the system to retain power.

Think about it!