Numenta’s Thinking Computer

Wired writes:

Jeff Hawkins believes that his program, combined with the ever-faster computational power of digital processors, will also be able to solve massively complex problems by treating them just as an infants brain treats the world: as a stream of new sensory data to interpret. Feed information from an electrical power network into Numentas system and it builds its own virtual model of how that network operates. And just as a child learns that a glass dropped on concrete will break, the system learns to predict how that network will fail. In a few years, Hawkins boasts, such systems could capture the subtleties of everything from the stock market to the weather in a way that computers now cant.

Numenta is close to issuing a research release of its platform, which has three main components: the core problem-solving engine, which works sort of like an operating system based on Hawkins theory of the cortex; a set of open source software tools; and the code for the learning algorithms themselves, which users can alter as long as they make their creations available to others. Numenta will earn its money by owning and licensing the basic platform, and Hawkins hopes a new industry will grow up around it, with companies customizing and reselling the intelligence in unexpected and dazzling ways. To Hawkins, the idea that were born knowing nothing leads to a technology that will be vastly more important than his Palm or Treo and perhaps as lucrative.


India Knowledge@Wharton writes:

It sounds like something from a futuristic TV thriller: American spies thwarting the next 9/11-style terrorist plot through a shared online community modeled after Wikipedia, the free and highly popular user-created, web-based encyclopedia.

But Anthony D. Williams, co-author of the new book, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, recently told a Wharton audience that this online community of spies already exists, and is on the case.

Williams noted that the rise of Wikipedia, Linux — and other user-generated platforms from online marketplace eBay to MIT’s increasingly popular online curriculum — is no accident, but part of what he calls a “perfect storm” in the growth of the Internet.

The key ingredients in that storm, he said, are the technological advances — often referred to as “Web 2.0” — that make online collaboration and communication easier to transact, as well as the arrival of a generation of Internet users that has been born since 1980 and that insists on taking a more active role in creating or editing the online content that it uses.

Green Computing

The Economist writes about three technological fixes to reduce data centre power consumption:

The first is new multi-core processor chips, in which performance is improved not by increasing clock speed, but by building several processing engines, or cores, into each chipa far more energy-efficient approach.

The second fix comes from using more efficient power supplies. At the moment, data centres perform many conversions between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). This wastes energy, which is emitted as heat and increases the need for cooling. It would be far more efficient to power servers directly from a central DC supply.

The third fix is the more careful use of cooling systems. HP, for example, has devised a scheme called Dynamic Smart Cooling, which links temperature sensors installed on servers to air-conditioners so that blasts of cool air can be directed towards particular servers only when needed.

Seriosity’s Attent writes:

Corporate managers concerned about the amount of time employees spend sifting though mountains of unwanted e-mail may soon have World of Warcraft to thank for providing a solution.

That’s because a Palo Alto, Calif.-based start-up called Seriosity has come up with an e-mail management system that borrows heavily from the virtual economies and currencies found in WoW and other large-scale online games.

Known as Attent, Seriosity’s system is essentially a new currency–called the Serio–that corporate e-mail users spend to indicate a message’s importance: the more important they believe the message is, the more Serios they spend on it. Recipients keep the Serios in the messages they get.

Similarly, when someone receives a message with Serios attached, they can indicate how important they believe it is by responding with an appropriate number: none or very few if they think the message wasn’t valuable, an equal number if they want the sender to know they appreciated the message, or more than the original number to show they agree that it truly was crucial.

TECH TALK: Envisioning Tomorrows World: Computer, Mobile and the Internet

I gave a couple talks recently at different fora on emerging technologies. I did both talks from prepared notes rather than a presentation. In this week’s Tech Talk, I will outline the gist of what I said.

As one looks to the future, it is a good idea to learn from the past. Look back 13 years or so. It is 1994. The Internet era is just about beginning. Also, the mobile era is about to start. Look back another 13 years ago. It is 1981. The PC era is about to commence.

As it turned out, these three creation the computer, the mobile phone and the Internet have formed the bedrock for the technological innovations that we have seen over the past quarter century. All of these innovations came from the developed markets and have made their way to emerging markets. In India, the adoption of the mobile phone for voice has been the greatest gadget story over the past five years. However, the use of the PC and the Internet has lagged behind.

I believe that over the next 5-10 years we will see the emergence of variants of the computer, mobile phone and the Internet which will make a huge impact in developing markets. Taken together, they will help create the digital infrastructure in these countries. The digital infrastructure is what will help these countries accelerate the pace of economic growth.

The three technological innovations on which the digital infrastructure for the developing markets will be built are going to be the Teleputer, the Ubinet and the M-Web.

Tomorrow: Teleputer, Ubinet and M-Web