Biology Learning from Chips

WSJ writes:

The car only became popular in America after Henry Ford figured out how to mass produce it. Computers didn’t invade every office and den until the chip industry learned how to churn out endless billions of the semiconductors that do all of a PC’s actual work.

Now, the world’s life-science researchers are taking a page from those two industrial playbooks and are trying to make biological production as efficient as most other sorts in modern economies. The economic impact of their efforts could be as significant as what occurred with cars and computers, and could include vastly less expensive gene-based drugs and vaccines, fuel sources and industrial materials.

India, Internet and Youth

My colleague, Veer Bothra, has started writing for CNet Asia. He writes in his first column:

More than 50 percent of India’s population are below the age of 25. That is over 500 million people, nearly twice the population of the US.

India’s great strength is its people–technology-savvy youth, English-speaking skilled manpower, a large pool of engineering talent and one of the world’s largest domestic markets. The number of people in the working age group will increase by 250 million from 2003 to 2020. Its 250+ universities and 10,000+ colleges produce more than three million graduates each year.

The installed base of PCs and adoption of Internet in India leave a lot to be desired. Out of nearly 200 million households, only about five million have a PC. Fewer of those have an Internet connection, while broadband is just getting started. Most of the 38 million Internet users are from cybercafes, for whom being online is sporadic and not an integral part of their life. Connection speed of 256Kbps is considered as broadband. Even after 11 years of Internet, online activity is largely restricted to jobs and matrimonial sites, email and chat. The top two portals are still advertising “better email” as their USP (unique selling point).

The low installed base of PCs is countered by a large and fast-growing user base of mobiles. Out of the 100 million mobile phones, nearly a third are GPRS-capable. Indian users are mobile-savvy, networks are data-ready, handsets are feature-rich, market size is humongous, and therefore market potential and room for innovation are high.

Jaiku and Mobile Presence

Smart Mobs quotes Jyri Engestrom about his start-up:

It’s a social phonebook that displays the real-time availability and location of your contacts. We call this rich presence.

With the Jaiku mobile application, you can share your location (neighborhood, city, country) based on cell tower positioning; your availability (based on whether your phone’s ringer is on or off); an IM-style presence line; current and upcoming calendar events; people and devices nearby (based on Bluetooth scanning); and how long your phone has been idle.

You can share this information with your contacts’ mobile phones. You can also create a badge for your blog, MySpace profile or any other Web page that shows your real-time presence on the Web.

Mova and Digital Imaging

MercuryNews writes:

When it comes to creating realistic characters in video games, computer artists have made brilliant replicas but they still struggle with the last frontier: making a human face that acts like the real thing.

The gap between what players see on the screen, and what they expect, is sometimes called “the uncanny valley.” The subtleties of what makes faces appear human still confounds artists trying to replicate it in digital form.

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Steve Perlman believes his latest start-up, San Francisco-based Mova, has the answer. Paradoxically, he acknowledges that the closer artists get to making a precise digital replica of a face, the more weird it can appear if it doesn’t move as if it were human.

Importance of Real-Time

ZDNet writes: “The world works in real time. Stock quotes, conversations, events, all of it is in real time, and the web shouldn’t be any different. Being able to experience that event in real time is something that could be a huge draw for users. Why do people pay so much money to go to a sporting event or to a concert? Because of the experience. They’re surrounded by fans, they’re seeing everything with their own eyes and therefore creating their own perceptions.”

TECH TALK: Mobile Internet: Views (Part 5)

Howard Rheingold: Inexpensive phones and pay-as-you go services are already spreading mobile phone technology to many parts of that world that never had a wired infrastructure. In terms of the people who had been left behind by previous technology revolutions, the mobile phone has already reached more people from more different walks of life than the PC or Internet did. As chips grow more powerful, even the least expensive phones will become cameras and Internet terminalsThe most important benefit of affordable PCs, phones, and bandwidth is encouraging the growth of literacies in the use of ICTs for the purposes of the poorest people in the world. The diffusion of the physical technologies is already being driven by the market.

Opera CEO Jon von Tetzchner (via MobHappy):

von Tetzchner is quick to point out that while operators might have to give up something in the short term, empowering users net access with a full browser and open service leaves them much more to gain in the long run though it requires a fundamental change of view. Instead of trying to lock people in, entice them to stay, he says. Operators can offer services that make use of a full browser, whether on a subscription basis, or as a tool to fight churn. Directing mobile users out on to the internet doesnt mean operators are suddenly out of the picture. They can offer different service plans to cater to different needs, as well as utilize existing infrastructure to provide services like third-party content billing.

Much of operators approach to the mobile Web has been predicated on a closed strategy, whether by blocking access outright to anything outside the portal, billing for it at ridiculous rates, or setting things up in such a way that theyre a necessary gatekeeper and technical expert for anybody that wants access to their customers. This strategy is outmoded and ill-advised; operators stand to gain far more by opening up, and allowing users to get what they want, and making it easier for content providers to give it to them. von Tetzchner and Operas contention is that this is best achieved by using standard web technologies rather than mobile-specific ones, allowing content providers to simply serve mobile users, and allowing those users access to everything they want. People just want the internet, he says, not to look at it through a keyhole.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt (via Tomi Ahonen): Mobile phones are cheaper than PCs, there are three times more of them, growing at twice the speed, and they increasingly have internet access. What is more, the World Bank estimates that more than two-thirds of the world’s population lives within range of a mobile phone network. Mobile is going to be the next big internet phenomenon. It holds the key to greater access to everyone – with all the benefits that entails.”

Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz (via ZDNet, Oct 2005):

The threat to PCs is twofold. Not only are services moving to the network, Schwartz said, but PCs won’t be the way people use those services–particularly in poorer areas of the world that have risen higher up Sun’s corporate priority list. Instead, that access will come through mobile phones.

“The majority of the world will first experience the Internet through their handset,” Schwartz said.

When it comes to aiding developing regions’ digital development, “Our collective generation believes the desktop PC is the most important thing to give to people. I don’t buy that. The most important thing to give is access to the Internet.”

Tomorrow: My Earlier Writing

Continue reading TECH TALK: Mobile Internet: Views (Part 5)