A search related to the topic of IoT or 'Internet of Things', eventually led me to a book called 'The Zero Marginal Cost Society' written by Jeremy Rifkin.
In this book, Mr. Rifkin has built a case, when it relates to how the cost to produce most things in the near future will be virtually zero (0). That there will always be a 'fixed cost' associated with launching any new product/server. However, increased efficiencies, automation and a combination of other things (mentioned below) will drive the marginal cost (cost to produce more units of the same) will be driven to virtually zero. Not zero, but almost zero.
Now, I have heard of this concept of 'zero marginal cost' before. I cannot find the actual clip on Youtube. But I have heard, at least one leading Venture Capitalist making a brief mention of it in one of their talks.
There are a bunch of technologies and phenomenon that Jeremy has mentioned in this book. From what I can recall at the top of my mind. Since the book has been returned to the library and this blogpost has been sitting in my drafts folder for over a month now. Anyhow, in random order:
Alongside the introduction to these technologies (and more), Jeremy then builds a hypothesis whereby we will witness the emergence of two major trends.
The author goes into a fair bit of detail, when it comes to the History of the Capitalist economic model and also how a 'commons' model used to predate this model. The author hypothesizes that the combined effect of the technologies that have been introduced and some of the other factors will usher the return to the commons era for our species. However, in my opinion the author could have spent a bit more time hypothesizing a future systems model, whereby resource distribution can be done in an optimal fashion for 7 to 10 billion people using a 'commons model'. Maybe an advanced form of AI and certain efficiencies can help us achieve that goal.
Now, I can't say that every (technological) phenomenon mentioned in this book was something new to me. But then again, that's coming from a person who has a hacker mindset and is always on the lookout when it comes to new and upcoming technologies.
This book is a hopeful, optimistic aspiration of what part of our future could be. An interesting read. I would recommend it.
The idea of tribes, specifically tribes that exist for the purpose of performing some kind of an activity. This idea, has been kicking around in my head for quite a while now.
What I'm really talking about are groups. And I don't think groups are being done right, in a social-networking context.
I've yet to find a social network out there that is focusing on 'group dynamics'. Or to be more precise, on the cohesiveness of the group. Now, if you bring the element of 'activity' into the fold, then things start getting a little bit more interesting. Because, quite simply:
I'm thinking that this could be a pretty big problem.
So between collecting cheques from the Government, applying for jobs, reading books and well other things. I finally decided that I am going to work on this project. Thus:
Tribeto.me was born in a moment of inspiration. (pending name change)
I want to build a platform that will allow individuals to connect with other individuals that they will be comfortable in associating with.
Where the group cohesiveness is always maintained and complimented by each one it's members.
Please signup for Alpha launch:
I am always very open and receptive to any feedback and criticism regarding any one of the projects that I embark upon. So, if you are reading this and you think that this is a good idea or it's a terrible idea or something in between, then I'd love to get your feedback. Feel free to drop me a line or simply leave a comment below.
Thank you kindly for your interest!
I leave you with a snapshot from the logo:
Stumbled upon this clip on Youtube and this has got to be one of my favorite interviews of Steve Jobs.
1995: Almost a decade has passed since Jobs was ousted from Apple. During this time, Jobs ended up launching two companies. Namely, Next and Pixar.
I like this interview for the obvious reasons. As usual, Jobs is being quite honest and candid about everything.
The interview starts with Jobs being reminiscent about his childhood. How various individuals helped pique his interest, when it comes to leveraging his skill set and getting him interests in Electronics. To his teachers in junior high, those who encouraged him through the learning process by literally bribing him with money and candies. And how that worked out quite well. Really well in-fact. Take that Daniel Pink! (Drive). To a very candid confession that Jobs would have probably ended up in jail, if it wasn’t for some of the individuals and particularly some of the teachers during his formative years. Jobs knows the kind of tendencies he possessed and how they had the capacity to direct his cognition and his destiny. I, for one, understand what he is saying.
Jobs also ends up talking about his experiences and how it took him into uncharted territories like the education sector (with Next). And some of the things he had to do in order to market Next to the education sector. Like talking to politicians and his experience dealing with the differing bodies of Governance. Seems like not much has changed throughout the decades. Jobs is sympathetic towards how the teachers are treated (pay) and generally how the system is broken as it fails to attract the best candidates for some of these jobs. Also, mention of the unions and how they protect the broken system.
Jobs also ends up talking about things that almost all the Leaders in the Tech industry should stop and pay attention to. His words are relevant to this day. Specially for Businesses and specifically businesses in the Tech industry that find themselves in a somewhat precarious situation.
Jobs talks about a number of things. Some of the themes that I noticed:
Great interview. Thank you Steve Jobs. Rest in peace.
I cannot help but draw comparisons. Cultural, socio-economic factors, civil liberties or lack there of, rights of women and children, innovation, rationality, state of consciousness/awareness and dealing with reality, how compassionate a society really is. The list, for me, literally goes on and on. The constant evaluation and analysis itself, has to do with living and growing up in different countries.
Now, I have been into reading for as far back as I can remember. Be it reading story books in Urdu from a very early age, to be able to eventually understand and grasp the language in school. To moving to Marvel comics. Let’s admit…a little bit of Archie comics too…actually a lot of Archie comics. Then, I was one of those kids who enjoyed perusing through text books. I’d love going through the details, to be able to absorb the content. I’d read stuff for the sake of understanding and never to be able to score all A’s. That wasn’t me. I’d make sure that what I read, I understood. Otherwise, what was the point of reading? Quantity never appealed to me in this respect. I soon found myself graduating into the sphere of fiction. In the 90′s we read everything from John Grisham to Robert Ludlum and everything in between. Also borrowing heavily from the private libraries of friends and families. I read titles, that I cannot even recall right now. From zombie titles, to sci-fi from the 60 (Golden Age of sci-fi. and I still read sci-fi titles from the 60′s). Maybe this is the reason why my head is full of so much jargon information.
Anyhow, specific to the blog-post and coming back to private libraries. Places like Pakistan and parts of the Middle East don’t really have a lot of libraries. The public libraries that they do have, literally look like the the storage area for a really old museum. These libraries are filled with manuscripts and material from the 1800′s to the 50′s. They wouldn’t even have that if it wasn’t for the British rule. If you are lucky, you might find a copy of the daily English newspaper. All the other newspapers are tabloids. In the 90′s, there were only be 6 or 7 such libraries for a city with 10 million inhabitants! Worst of all, you cannot even borrow a book and take it home with you. Conditions such as these, are prevalent for 95% of the population. There is no middle class. If you happen to be in the top 5%, then sure enough, you could afford subscriptions to any magazines, periodicals or the entire collection of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Brittanica made a killing in Pakistan in the 90′s (pre Encarta time frame). Also, if you were in the top 5%, you could afford sending your kid to a school that would be on par with any other educational institute in the world. And yes, the libraries in these schools were well maintained.
But it begets the question, how can a society, any society even think about advancement, when it does nothing to promote knowledge? Libraries are one of the pillars upon which you build a civilization. A society without libraries is a society steeped in darkness. A mindless slide into the abyss and eventually into irrelevance really. A lack of such a simple yet fundamental institution can and does explain the myriad of problems that these societies face.
I happened to be at a library on the very second day I came to Canada. I just loved it. I somewhat knew what to expect based on what my friends and family had told me before my arrival. But to actually see the books, and best of all to be able to borrow them was awesome. I know it sounds ridiculous. It even sounds weird to me after all this time in Canada. But an experience is an experience. Once I got a job and the money started coming in, I graduated to Chapters/Indigo pretty quickly. A gentleman has got to build his collection. I bought tons of books. My friends used to joke that I buy all these different books and I don’t get to read them all. Which was partly true, but I do go through most of them eventually. But I never lost the connection to the local library. I’d still end up at the local library any given month. I’d get the titles I need. At this time in my life I do not have the luxury of taking my time to go through all the content. So I employ speed reading habits where I possibly can. But once you have gone through so many titles, you kind of know which one of the titles deserve your utmost attention (slow reading) as opposed to the others.
I hear some people saying that a shift is occurring. That the consumer reading habits are moving towards different mediums and books are losing their appeal as a consequence. I personally have 2 tablets and a kindle. I use all of them. In addition to that, I go through tons of open education sourcesavailable on the web. But! I still borrow tons of stuff from the library. And I could never see myself living in a city/locale that does not go above and beyond when it comes to supporting it’s Library network. And every single time I go to the library, doesn’t matter which city/locale in Ontario, it is jam packed.
Last summer, one of the councilors in Toronto, Doug Ford went on a proposed cost cutting aventure. Doug is Rob Ford’s brother, who is currently the big mayor of Toronto. Unfortunately the Ford administration also wanted to put the Toronto Library Network on the (proposed) chopping board. They wanted to shut down a significant number of libraries under the Toronto Public Library network (there are 99 branches in total as of today). Since then there has been a huge outcry from the Library workers themselves. The editorials in all the major Canadian newspapers have cautioned against such a move. This move by the Ford administration even managed to catch the ire of Margaret Atwood, one of Canada’s renowned novelist. Someone had to stand up to these guys.
Just today I came across the following news article. India to link 9000 libraries: PM Manmohan. The plan is to upgrade and modernize 9000 (yes NINE THOUSAND) libraries all across India. The intent is to link all the libraries to each other and digitize as much content as possible. And to quote from the article “A young reader sitting in his village public library should be able to access books and information from across the world,” And they want to do this for every State, City, Local municipality in India. Think about this and the 35$ tablet that has been developed in India. Information of all sorts will be widely available for potentially each one of the inhabitants in India. I am blown away! What an amazing move by the Indian Government. This is an investment that will benefit India in so many different ways, that it’s hard to even quantify the positive impact this would have. In fact, Malaysia did something similar back in the 90′s and I am sure developing a culture of knowledge and sharing information has a lot to do with their success. Living in the information age, these kind of moves are a no-brainer really.
Just connecting the dots, seeing what the politicians in Canada are doing and what the politicians in some of the developing countries are doing. I cannot help but wonder if we are going into a regressive state of sort. I understand these are hard times and some kind of an austerity measure has to kick in to balance the budget. But for the life of me, I cannot understand why key areas such as knowledge, education and/or health care have to be on the chopping board. When we should be spending money to modernize these institutions and services for the future. India just did, what are you gonna do Rob Ford?
Originally published on Dec 16, 2011
Brin speaks out against SOPA and PIPA. link
In just two decades, the world wide web has transformed and democratized access to information all around the world. I am proud of the role Google has played alongside many others such as Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Twitter. Whether you are a student in an internet cafe in the developing world or a head of state of a wealthy nation, the knowledge of the world is at your fingertips.Of course, offering these services has come with its challenges. Multiple countries have sought to suppress the flow of information to serve their own political goals. At various times notable Google websites have been blocked in China, Iran, Libya (prior to their revolution), Tunisia (also prior to revolution), and others. For our own websites and for the internet as a whole we have worked tirelessly to combat internet censorship around the world alongside governments and NGO promoting free speech.Thus, imagine my astonishment when the newest threat to free speech has come from none other but the United States. Two bills currently making their way through congress — SOPA and PIPA — give the US government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial). While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don’t believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.This is why I signed on to the following open letter with many other founders – http://dq99alanzv66m.cloudfront.net/sopa/img/12-14-letter.pdf
See also: http://americancensorship.org/ and http://engineadvocacy.org/
Originally published on November 6, 2011
I've been thinking about these sentient beings. Sentient beings that we'd be able to create by leveraging technology. But also, sentient beings that are able to replicate the essence of consciousness.
I recall this short story called “the fun they had“ written by Isaac Asimov. In this short story, Asimov envisions mechanical tutors and how the process of learning is completely mechanized.
Now, that short story was satire as it hypothesizes what children miss out on by not being in school. It's all about mechanical tutors and home schooling in that short story.
But in a future state, learning need not be like that. At the same time, making use of a sentient AI. Backed by a sentient network, big data and cloud. Something like that could truly customize and revolutionize learning as we know it.
An individualized, more engaging, enhanced form of learning in a social environment. Wouldn't that be something.