Thursday, November 24, 2011

Many of us Google ourselves

Jack Dikian
November 2011

There are many of us who Google ourselves fairly regularly. The reasons are mostly about keeping tabs on our online reputations, checking to see what prospective employers will know and/or even just being vain.

According to a report from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 57% of American adults keep tabs on their online identities. That's up from 47 percent in 2006.

And we don’t just Google ourselves. 46% of adults say they have used online searchers to find information about people from their past.38% have searched for friends and 16 % have scoured for facts about a person they were dating.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Next Ten Years

Jack Dikian
November 2011

One of my life long friends recently had a baby boy. Three months on the conversation often turns to how the world might be like when he’s old enough to go to school. Will he own an iPhone 7X (or rather an iPhone 7S) and will Google be his search engine of choice.

I sometimes think about where we were ten years ago. The state of technology, trends in consumer electronics, and of course you will recall we were obsessed with the millennium bug. I know a few people who even avoided flying at the turn of the millennium – worrying that an uncorrected subroutine in some obscure code arising from an earlier technology might result in disaster.

As we enter the second decade of the twenty first century many before me have looked into the murky crystal ball trying to foretell what might be in store. I think as the debate over climate change precipitates around consensus and more tangible metrics we can be assured that, increasingly, plausible and economically viable ways will be found to tinker with the environment

Increased political and social pressure will only move us towards more sustainable energy sources, and more and more of us will consciously alter our energy consumption habits.

Ever since Frederick Sanger devised the chain-termination method for sequencing DNA molecules (a genus of an idea) allowing long stretches of DNA to be rapidly and accurately sequenced, our ability to map the the entire human genome was that much closer to becoming a reality.

In 2007, James Watson’s genome was sequenced in 2 months, at a cost of $2 million. In 2009, Complete Genomics were sequencing personal genomes at less than $5000. Soon many of us may want our genomes downloaded onto our laptops. It is entirely possible that a growing market for personal genetic information will arise as well as a growing number of businesses looking to capitalize on the data.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Knowledge Doubling Every 11 Hours

Jack Dikian
November 2011

We have all grown up with the knowledge that computers are getting smaller, faster, and cheaper. Moore's law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware: that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

The other day I was talking to a friend who is now doing a law degree after completing her first degree some ten years ago. We got onto chatting about the amount of information and resources generally available now compared to even a decade ago, not to mention 20 years ago, 30 years ago, etc.

The Knowledge Doubling Curve

According to a 2006 prediction coming from IBM Global Technical Services’ white paper, "The toxic terabyte: How data-dumping threatens business efficiency” the world’s information base will be doubling in size every 11 hours. And so rapid is the growth in the global stock of digital data that the very vocabulary used to indicate quantities has had to expand to keep pace.

The graph (Fig 1.) illustrates the rate of growth as an exponential growth doubling over time.

knowledge duplication

The knowledge duplication curve (Fig 2,) is a mirror image of The Knowledge Doubling Curve. This curve is not based on any study; rather an intuitive explanation of the mechanics behind The Knowledge Doubling Curve. This curve shows that as technology advanced, the amount of time wasted by humanity in creating duplicate solutions was reduced linearly and that after the bend, the rate of reduction became exponential.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How Green Is Our Valley - The greenest countries

Jack Dikian
November 2011

The table below lists the top 10 greenest countries (2010) as compiled from the Environmental Performance Index (EPI); a joint effort between Yale University, Columbia University and collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. We also present the current top 10 courtiers against rankings from 2008.

We’ve looked at some of large trading partners and their standing both in 2008 and 2010. Both the United States and China had in fact a more favourable EPI standing in 2008.

The 2010 Environmental Performance Index ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals. The EPI’s proximity-to-target methodology facilitates cross-country comparisons as well as analysis of how the global community is doing collectively on each particular policy issue.


Ranking in 2008

Ranking in 2010







Costa Rica



























We export to

We import from

United States












Courtesy of

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Google X factor - our future

Jack Dikian
November 2011

There are some of us who as kids didn’t grow up having a microwave oven to heat afterschool snakes. Some of us would never have dreamed of replacing batteries in a toothbrush. And household products like the Blue-ray, Bluetooth, Dyson, Flat-screen, iPod were to be in our collective future.

Sometimes we see products emerge from lesser ones. Products change, evolve and transform as with the introduction of DVDs replacing VHS Video or CDs replacing Cassette decks. In other cases products just seem to emerge; almost overnight and we are left asking how did we do without - a paradigm change.

Did we see the electric toothbrush coming; the car radio aerial imbedded into the windscreen, the light bulb that messages us, warning it’s nearing the end of its life. Okay, so we can’t buy a message send light bulb just yet – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

This brings me to my point, the Internet of Things somewhat like the current Internet of Networks which serve our insatiable appetite for information and data communication. Think the Jetsons, where pantries keep their own inventories, supermarket trolleys that know what’s thrown in them and homes that remember what’s in their own junk drawers. How about your dinner plate posting to Facebook what you’re eating, even better your toilet analysing what comes out the other end for the presence of substances indicating failing health.


We made a great deal of inroad in showcasing the “store of the future” in the nineties when I was a Management Consultant at Accenture (Andersen Consulting). I was also fortunate enough to visit the MIT Media Lab which has always been known for its broad range of human-machine research and innovation. It seems now (probably for a while) Google has been dabbling and bringing shoot-for-the-stars ideas that little bit nearer.

Google X, is the clandestine lab where Google is tackling ideas which are, according to some, at various stages of development with some close to becoming reality within a year or two.

“They’re pretty far out in front right now,” said Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at MIT’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab and founder of Heartland Robotics. “But Google’s not an ordinary company, so almost nothing applies.”

"We've always been optimistic about technology's ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today," Sebastian Thrun, a software engineer at Google, blogged last year.