Re: poly: Emerging Technology

From: GBurch1 <>
Date: Sat Jan 03 1998 - 06:46:42 PST

In a message dated 98-01-02 20:31:54 EST, Perry E. Metzger writes:

> Anders Sandberg writes:
> > A spin off-thread: what technologies do we see now that are like the
> > internet in the 80's?
> The internet is the internet of the '00s
> Seriously.
> We've barely scratched the surface. Most people who are online have
> dialup connections. The world is going to utterly change when most
> people have 10mbps to their home at all times 24x7
[snip a good description of some of the changes we could expect from such a

The effect of constant broad-band net connection will obviously be
revolutionary, and I can't wait. I would be curious if the list members with
a more direct involvement in the relevant industries and areas of R&D might
describe the current best view of HOW we might get such connections. I know I
chafe at the "last mile" problem for my own personal connection here at home
(my cable company keeps promising a fiber optic connect "in about 18 months"
-- and they've made this promise for 2 years.) Is wireless the best bet?
> This is the last five
> years of the CRT. CRTs are mature, dead end technology -- solid state
> stuff like LCDs drops in price 50% a year, and CRTs budge only slowly.
> NEC is now selling 20" 1280x1024 LCD displays. They cost $8k. That
> implies they will be $2k in three years (assuming a halving of cost
> every 12 months), which means they will, at that point, pass the price
> point of CRT displays. Two years past that, they'll be $500, and we
> can assume that high resolution LCD displays will start appearing
> everywhere. Within ten years, we can expect displays of various sorts
> to start being cheap enough to paper walls with.

Another bit of technological and market development that has puzzled me is the
tenacity of the CRT. I have been expecting a solid-state flat-screen
breakthrough "any day now" for 5 years. Last Christmas, I finally asked a
relative who for a while worked on designing notebooks for Dell Computer in
Austin why this hasn't happened yet. His answer: The display is the single
most expensive component in the notebook because it is such a large solid-
state device. Accordingly, many have to be discarded due to flaws in the
manufacturing process and increases in area cause geometric price increases in
manufacturing. Unless there's been some breakthrough in the manufacturing
process, I don't expect large LCD screens to follow the same geometric price
curve as processors. (Too bad, because I recently renovated the den in my
house and had hoped to make that project dove-tail with a wall-sized flat
screen display . . .)

In the meantime, another technology may well overtake large flat screens;
direct laser retina displays. Apparently Microvision in Seattle has a real
head start on this technology and some key patents. I visit their web site
about every 6 months and they seem to be on track to deliver consumer-level
technology in about 5 years. Retina painters will also make "wearables" much
more practical and something like Sasha Chislenko's augmented reality ideas a

> > The obvious one is biotechnology. In the late 80's and early 90's it
> > was all the rage to invest in it, but then nothing much seemed to
> > happen and the real yuppie era ended.

Every time I look in the mirror, I know what will make biotech boom . . . a
cure for baldness. Just kidding. Sort of. Actually, a major single-point
breakthrough in longevity medicine might be the thing . . .
> One thing Harry Hawk impressed on me many years ago was the fact that
> most successful communications technology gets used early (at its
> leading edge) for pornography. The fact that people are using video
> over the net for porn leads me to believe it will probably be a very
> successful video distribution medium.

I've also had this insight and the VCR is the most obvious recent example.
The big next example is consumer level VR, which is like large flat screens:
I've been expecting a big breakthrough on that front for a while. About every
6 months I search the net for signs of an imminent explosion of consumer VR,
to no avail. I now think retina painters will be the ticket on the display
front, which puts that breakthrough c. 5 years off at the earliest. I wonder
what level of processor power is needed?

In a message dated 98-01-02 23:11:05 EST, Tim May writes:

> >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?
> [snip]
> Yeah, but these are the "Net," again. Look to those areas for

At least in one lucrative market, it probably is some form of advanced AI.
Location of relevant authorities from the constantly growing corpus of
reported decisions is a very profitable business in a common law system such
as ours. The West Publishing Company created one of the first commercial
"knowledge empires" with the development of their paper-based data structure,
the "key numbering system" for case reporters about a hundred years ago. The
only significant advance on that development came about 25 years ago with the
introduction by Lexis (followed quickly by West's system, Westlaw) of the
first large online text database with Boolean searching. Although this WAS a
significant advance, the shortcomings of reliance on such a system are well-
known in the legal profession. (Imagine the kinds of mistakes a spell-checker
makes. Now imagine someone is sentenced to death because of them.) Anyone who
could improve automation of content analysis for case decisions would be an
instant millionaire. The problem is that the technology has to be almost as
good as a first-year lawyer to be worthwhile and, a billion lawyer jokes
notwithstanding, that's essentially the whole AI problem in a nutshell . . .

In a message dated 98-01-03 02:56:51 EST, Alexander Chislenko writes:

> On Internet, I expect such changes to come from semantic standards for
> information representation and exchanges, and new services that will spring
> out on the foundation of the "content-aware" Web. I attempted to give a
> short review of possible developments here in my article on "Semantic Web"
> you can find it at
> I also expect these developments to give a good push to AI, as they will
> create a foundation of coded knowledge (processing of knowledge seems
> an easier task than its acquisition from unstructured sources) and will
> many AI applications into hot profitable fields - just as it happened with
> data
> mining recently.

About ten years ago, I imagined a structure for a semantic notation of roles
and relationships of legal actors and causes of action as a first step toward
solution of automated content analysis of legal data. I have figured that
bright people at Lexis and West have come up with a similar idea, and only
guess that the huge expense of back-coding the hundreds of thousands
(millions?) of volumes of the common law acts as a barrier to anyone who would
take the risk of initiating such a system.
   Attorney ::: Director, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
           "Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must
              be driven into practice with courageous impatience."
                      -- Admiral Hyman G. Rickover
Received on Sat Jan 3 14:37:45 1998

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