Re: poly: Re: Emerging Technology (was: Rapture of the Future)

From: Tim May <>
Date: Fri Jan 02 1998 - 20:08:00 PST

At 4:50 PM -0800 1/2/98, Anders Sandberg wrote:

>A spin off-thread: what technologies do we see now that are like the
>internet in the 80's?

As Perry said, the Internet is the Internet of the next decade. The
biggest changes are yet to come, and the greatest opportunities.

>The obvious one is biotechnology. In the late 80's and early 90's it

Biotech is _too_ obvious...everybody's been waiting for many years for the
exponential growth phase to start. Sure, there have been some nicely
profitable drugs, but the drugs tend to be "one shot" affairs...Merck is
the darling for a couple of years, then Gensea then something else. Each
drug is almost a crap shoot...will it be a winner or a loser?

(And I invested in Genentech back around 1980 or 81...made some decent
profits, then got out. And I took a flyer in Elan, an Irish pharmaceutical
company. Sold it before it really took off, showing my lack of elan.)

So I mostly avoid biotech. I stick to what I know. And, as I noted above,
I'm not at all sure the "exponential growth" model is a good one for
biotech, at least not until they learn to build on past successes more

>One area I think will get BIG very soon is knowledge management
>software of various kinds. We now have information, and we are getting
>better at information management (still far to go there, but we are
>advancing). The logical step is software to manage quality information

Now I'm _really_ skeptical about his one. Not because it doesn't sound
nice..."knowledge management" is like motherhood. But what's it mean?

Is it data base management with some data mining thrown in? (I hope so, as
I have a heavy position in Oracle.) Is it AI? (I hope not, as my AI
companies have gone belly up in the last decade.) So, aside from hand
waving, what is it?

Sure, if a killer app comes along it'll all be retrospectively obvious we
should have invested in it. But the hard part is looking forward, not

A few friends of mine are working on what they think of as knowledge
extraction....but I sure don't see any future Microsofts emerging there.

(Another of my contrarian views is that the rate of knowledge growth is
_not_ accelerating, but is slowing down. Not that the number of bits and
bytes of so-called knowledge is not growing exponentially...they are. But
the discovery rate of major new facts, major new paradigms, etc. is
slowing. Which is not at all surprising to me. I can elaborate in other

>Rating software, bibliometric analysis, quality databases, search
>agents able to search for concepts or relationships instead of
>words... there is a huge field here, and both dollars and intelligence
>amplification to be had.

Yeah, but these are the "Net," again. Look to those areas for opportunities.

BTW, I certainly don't want to give the impression that I think only making
money is important. Far from it.

First and foremost, one should follow one's "calling." Even if it means
taking a financial hit, as Robin H. showed us when he went off to Caltech
to get a Ph.D. in his chosen area, and as Amara G. is currently showing us
with her upcoming comet work in Germany.

But making a pile of money is nice, too. If one's interests lead to making
money, so much the better.

And one will typically make more money by building a company or earning a
high salary, and then investing, than just by investing.

(Bluntly, it is better to be well-compensated with a high salary and stock
option than not being so well-compensated and trying to pick stock market
home runs. After all, an employer, or a purchaser of one's company, is
paying one for one's high skills, while picking stock market winners is a
lot iffier. And usually is not a full-time job, at least for investors
rather than day traders.)

--Tim May

The Feds have shown their hand: they want a ban on domestic cryptography
Timothy C. May | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
ComSec 3DES: 408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^2,976,221 | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."
Received on Sat Jan 3 03:59:59 1998

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