I previously posted WRT the fact that we are approaching the limits of our ability to achieve physical proof of quantum physics. Why should we care? Where do we go after the CERN Hadron Super Collider confirmed the existence of the Higgs-boson particle, proving the role of dark matter? That said, two separate teams at CERN are debating the results of further experiments that suggest the possible existence of a new sub-atomic particle. This particle, if it exists, and can be confirmed, may support the existence of additional dimensions of space and time. The MIT Technology Review has also suggested that the CERN Hadron Super Collider could potentially prove the validity of the Star Trek hyperdrive technology. We should care because it is the future of the technology that will continue to change our lives.
Researchers from Google’s AI Lab say a controversial quantum machine that it and NASA have…
An insightful interview with Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist and founder of LinkedIn. But to my mind, Hoffman seems blase’ about Big Ideas and “deep tech” funding. I share the views of Startup Genome founder, Max Marmer, and bemoan the limited focus of VC’s on world-changing technologies, leaving it to billionaire angels. I also sense myopia about the ongoing intense debate over the distortion of the sharing economy by Uber, Airbnb, and others.
Anonymous, the murky global and leaderless hacking group has struck out on a campaign to disrupt ISIS’ sophisticated use of the Internet and social media. It claims to have disabled over 11,000 identified ISIS Twitter accounts with looped Rick Astley videos. For those of you not familiar with Rick Astley, he was a 1980’s British pop star of limited talent, whose videos are sometimes painful to watch. For unknown reasons, Astley’s videos have been used in a variety of online pranks and hacking incidents. So Anonymous did the convenient thing and used old Astley videos, a tactic now known as “RickRolling”, to disrupt and confound ISIS Twitter and other social media accounts. I like it. Striking back in this way is probably causing smiles in the French Intelligence Service, U.S. Defense Department, NSA, and GCHQ in the UK.
My biggest complaint with venture capital and the current entrepreneurial landscape is the lack of Big Ideas— the superficiality of the technology sector. “We were promised flying cars and we got 140 characters” –Peter Thiel. We also got corporate greed masquerading as “the sharing economy.” Many other well-known observers of this industry share my complaint. Some argue that these Big Ideas are too big for private investment, and can only be funded by governments with the resources and vision to accomplish such large long term projects. I disagree.
This is another in my occasional series on Big Ideas. Last night I had my first opportunity to watch Particle Fever, the acclaimed 2014 documentary on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle. This followed my reading of a much more recent New York Times Op-Ed, describing a crisis in physics resulting from the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Essentially, the science of physics has no ability any time in the foreseeable future to experimentally go beyond the Higgs Boson. Physics is unlikely to be able to find The Holy Grail: a unifying Theory of Everything tying Einstein and the Higgs Boson into one simple elegant explanation.
Underscoring Goldman Sachs forecast last week of oil prices at or below $50 per bbl until at least 2020, Bloomberg News is today reporting that Iraq is preparing to unleash a flood of new oil within the next few months. This is very bad news for the price of Western Canadian Select bitumen, and Alberta oil sands producers. Saudi Arabia’s strategy, together with OPEC, to squeeze high-cost oil producers of oil sands and shale seems to be working. More pessimistic forecasts of WCS at $25 for an extended period now appear more plausible.
This issue has driven me absolutely nuts since I first arrived in Canada from Silicon Valley. It did not take me long to figure out that things did not work they way they did in California, and that there wasn’t much of a true entrepreneurial economy here. Since then, I have also been appointed to the Canada Foundation for Innovation grant process, providing me with insight into how R&D funding works in Canada. I have seen many issues in Canada that have impaired the nation’s ability to develop an entrepreneurial culture, among them is the inherent Canadian conservatism and short term horizon of investors unfamiliar with technology venture investment. But none has been worse than Canada’s decades-long neglect of adequate funding for research and development nationwide.
As some may already know, Google is launching its Fi mobile phone service in the United States, and with aggressive expansion plans, hopefully, into Canada and Europe. Google has partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile in the United States. But the intriguing aspect of this new business is Google’s intent to offload phone service to WiFi wherever possible. This prospect has been looming in the wings for awhile, with the talk of true Metro-scale WiFi using VHF white space, and Google’s innovative experiments with “Loon Balloon,” (see my earlier post), and with low orbiting satellite WiFi coverage. Whether these risky and expensive experiments will materialize is another question. However, the prospect of wider area, stronger signal metro WiFi continues to move forward. Google’s hybrid approach using both mobile service frequencies and WiFi to provide full mobile voice and data service is beginning to sound very interesting.
Gordon Moore, now 86, is still spry and still given to the dry sense of humor for which he has always been known. In an Intel interview this year he said that he had Googled “Moore’s Law” and “Murphy’s Law,” and Moore’s beat Murphy’s by two to one,” demonstrating how ubiquitous is the usage of Dr. Moore’s observation. This week we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of the April 19, 1965 issue of Electronics magazine, in which Dr. Moore first described his vision of doubling the number of transistors on a chip every year or so.