Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stanley - DARPA Grand Challenge

Sam Perry and I just did a very cool thing -- he couldn't be here at the MediaX conference this afternoon, but we both have the new MacBook Pro which has a built in camera and iChat video... so I just turned the laptop around and gave him a personal webcast of Sebastian Thrun's presentation on how Stanford won the DARPA Grand Challenge.

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Harvesting Implicit Knowledge

Bernardo Huberman, Consulting Professor, Applied Physics is speaking here at MediaX on "Harvesting Implicit Knowledge" -- he proposes that a key differentiator of great organizations is their ability to extract, aggregate analyze and properly act on information quickly.

Today we need to discover communities of interest. We can do this by looking at the electronic communications that we use - tools like email and even powerpoint. People that communicate often tend to establish links that persist. Thus using the connections implicit in email communications it is possible to surface the connections between individuals in a company, uncovering implicit organizational structures.

One of the reasons we are talking about this at MediaX is that this effort is an example of how there can be cross-fertilization from adjacent fields. The way in which this group is developing the notion of implicit communities is by applying a concept from mathematics -- "betweenness centrality" -- in which a graph has community structure if it consists of groups of nodes with many more links within each group than between different groups.

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Hooray I am a Gen-Xer

According to the presentation currently under way here at the MediaX conference, Generation X started in 1965... phew! I just made it. The presentation is on Aging -- "50 is the new 35" -- sound good to me. Hopefully by the time I am 50, 60 will be the new 35. That way I can be 25 forever...

MediaX Conference At Stanford

Enormous congratulations to Ellen Levy, Director of Industry Research and Collaboration for MediaX at Stanford University. I am sitting in the audience now, listening to the opening comments from John Hennessey, President of the University. The fact that John is here, giving these opening remarks, is in itself an enormous endorsement for the incredible work that Ellen and her organization are doing to connect industry with research. And the program over the next day and a half speaks to the enormous breadth of the collaboration that is being nurtured by this organization.

John notes that "..increasingly Universities will be the place that basic research and core technologies are developed." He is laying out an ambition program for evolving the educational initiatives as well as the research agendas that Stanford is undertaking. Examples that John offers for questions a University is uniquely suited to asking:

"How would you design the Internet today, if you could start with a clean state."

"What are the implications when people live not 10 years past their retirement age, but 20, 30, even 40?"

He closes with a quotation: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used to create those problems" - Albert Einstein

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Oakland Fuel Cell Busses

Some time ago I wrote about seeing a fuel cell bus on a flat bed truck headed for Oakland. Today comes news of these fuel cell busses going into service.
Integrating the UTC Power fuel cell with a hybrid-electric drive system has enabled us to achieve twice the fuel efficiency of diesel.
For the planet's sake, lets hope this trial is successful and brings more fuel cells to market quickly.