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The future of tech
Old 02-28-2016, 11:12 PM   #1
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The future of tech

Two sides to every story. The best way to produce conversation is to open it with a statement of belief, and then to listen to the other side.
While I don't have a dog in this fight, it would be enlightening to hear a different point of view.
I picked this up from "Of Two minds".
Of Two Minds - What If There Are No More Googles, Facebooks or AirBnBs?

Quote:
It's an article of quasi-religious faith in tech circles that a few of the hundreds of start-ups touting their "disruptive" potential will blossom into super-profitable giants like Google and Facebook, or fast-growing companies like AirBnB that may not yet have profits but which have scaled fast enough to dominate their space--and richly reward early investors.
Two recent Guardian (U.K.) stories on the Digital Gold Rush frenzy in San Francisco and Silicon Valley cite this faith in the inevitability of "the next big (and hugely profitable) thing" as the basic justification for investors and venture capitalists to spread billions of dollars over hundreds of new start-ups--many which started somewhere else in the world but which migrated to the Bay Area to tap the seemingly inexhaustible venture-capital vein of cash.
Having lived through a number of major economic changes... The WWII scale up of industry, The textile revolution... The expansion of the Automotive Industry... The introduction of computers to business, and of course the past 20 years of hi tech advances...
....... I wonder if Charles Hugh Smith has a point in his review of "unicorns".
And, if not just IPO start ups, could there be a point of diminishing returns where the technology surpasses the needs?

Thoughts?
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Old 02-28-2016, 11:39 PM   #2
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I see you are channeling Charles Holland Duell.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Holland_Duell

Tracing the Quote: Everything that can be Invented has been Invented | Patently-O
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Old 02-28-2016, 11:49 PM   #3
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Seems shortsighted. There was a time when 70% of Americans were involved in agriculture, now it's about 2% - yet everyone was absorbed despite massive population growth.

No evidence we're run out of unicorns.

If you want to be concerned, consider what happens when AI surpasses humans with independence/self determination. May not be in my lifetime, but eventually. We can see we're going to become obsolete driving cars, we'll become obsolete for much more in time.
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Old 02-29-2016, 06:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
If you want to be concerned, consider what happens when AI surpasses humans with independence/self determination. May not be in my lifetime, but eventually. We can see we're going to become obsolete driving cars, we'll become obsolete for much more in time.
+1 I am reading the Nexus SF trilogy by Ramez Naam, about the advent of a trans/post human society. A fun, action packed, take on the pluses and minuses of neural enhancement and AI from a sorta Buddhist perspective.
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Old 02-29-2016, 06:54 AM   #5
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We cannot know how much there is that we do not know. Technology has not run out of steam yet. I think the supposed Duell quote is more aptly traced to Punch from 1899. In a fictional look at the coming century, a genious comes to a publishing house with a new idea, asks about a patent clerk, and is told that such a person is unnecessary, since everything that can be invented has been invented.
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Old 02-29-2016, 10:16 AM   #6
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Hmmm... back to the original post, and the argument the we cannot know what we do not know. An easy answer, but how about addressing some specifics.

First some personal remembrances. Back in the mid sixties, I worked for what was then a retail giant. Long before Walmart or Amazon. We were in the forefront of technology in the retail business, with IBM processing of customer records and internal order processing. We were ahead of the industry with copy machines, when mimeographs were common. I carried a portable fax machine, in my work as a field district manager. Most people then, didn't know what a "fax" was.
In the '70's, I worked as a liaison with IBM managers who were there to upgrade our work interactions. Now businesses do their own structuring.
In the early 1980's I was on a "spy" mission to visit the expanding Walmart Markets... documenting their organization, their personnel structure, and the shipping/receiving functions, which had taken a quantum leap in efficiency and profitablility.

In all of this, the future was seeable. It was simplicity itself to take any part of our business, and apply technology to solve problems, reduce payroll, accelerate the sales process and improve profitability.

Second The personal tech revolution. From "Pong" to Twitter, to Fitbit to the totality of immersion in the world of personal tech. Every moment of inter connectability that overtakes the "breathing space " of the younger generation and rapidly changing the thinking and working hours of later generation.

So, to build on the last unicorn theory.
To the first part... business. Where once, the ability to streamline the workings of business lie in the hand and minds of a relative few, today, almost every worker has access to the same programs, as well as the ability to develop and integrate without the necessity of relying on a cadre of consultants. This is not to say that the role of tech has diminished, but that the need for quantum advances is being reduced. Accordingly, what new startup can distinguish itself without parallel or copycat operations? In other words, has creativity been opened to all, without requiring extraordinary oneness?

To the second part... The personal tech revolution. To this, the question of just how much reliance on tech entertainment, connectivity, and accessibility to Knowledge(note the emphasis on knowledge)... can an individual absorb?

AI... mentioned as the future of tech... Exactly what does that mean? How would that affect the practicality of Tech as a part of the economy?

Back to the original cited article, which looked to tech as a part of the economic structure . Getting down to the dollar and cent proposition. Is the future to be based on breakthroughs? If so, some of your thoughts on what areas are still prime for exploitation... ala personal medicine, managed mutations and environmental solutions. Certainly areas to be explored and improved, but still niche targets.

I have always been able to see where tech could advance our lives. Now, not so much. The most likely economic opportunities lie in the third world countries, but it's hard to see how tech (except existing tech) can help here.

So your thoughts on where we go from here. Is it just that we don't know what we don't know, or something more?
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Hmmm... back to the original post, and the argument the we cannot know what we do not know. An easy answer, but how about addressing some specifics.

First some personal remembrances. Back in the mid sixties, I worked for what was then a retail giant. Long before Walmart or Amazon. We were in the forefront of technology in the retail business, with IBM processing of customer records and internal order processing. We were ahead of the industry with copy machines, when mimeographs were common. I carried a portable fax machine, in my work as a field district manager. Most people then, didn't know what a "fax" was.
In the '70's, I worked as a liaison with IBM managers who were there to upgrade our work interactions. Now businesses do their own structuring.
In the early 1980's I was on a "spy" mission to visit the expanding Walmart Markets... documenting their organization, their personnel structure, and the shipping/receiving functions, which had taken a quantum leap in efficiency and profitablility.

In all of this, the future was seeable. It was simplicity itself to take any part of our business, and apply technology to solve problems, reduce payroll, accelerate the sales process and improve profitability.
It sounds like you've made up your mind, and you're looking for others who agree, I can't help you there.

Your example above is about incremental/evolutionary changes which are usually seeable. The unicorns of history are the revolutionary changes that very few people see. Did you "see" how the internet would dramatically change retail in the 70's & 80's? And that change alone is no where near over.

History is littered with revolutionary changes that people couldn't fully foresee. The fact that you and the author can't see the big changes ahead isn't new, or predictive at all.
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Old 02-29-2016, 11:48 AM   #8
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Your example above is about incremental/evolutionary changes which are usually seeable. The unicorns of history are the revolutionary changes that very few people see.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943
The future will be quite different from what we can imagine, but we can certainly imagine a lot . . . biologic manufacturing, quantum computing, nano-tech, super intelligent AI, a completely automated & mechanized economy that ends all scarcity and human labor, realistic virtual reality, space colonization . . .

And beyond what we can imagine the possibility for the unimaginable is likely growing. One of the interesting things about AI is that it bears almost no resemblance to human logic. It arrives at results by methods and for reasons that are oftentimes completely impenetrable to even the folks who designed the system.

We could be in store for some very surprising developments.

An interesting tid-bit from a machine that bluffed professional poker players to a draw .. .

Quote:
“There are spots where it plays well and others where I just don’t understand it,” Polk said in a Carnegie Mellon news release….”Betting $19,000 to win a $700 pot just isn’t something that a person would do,” Polk continued.

Polk’s careful wording–he doesn’t say the computer’s strategy was wrong but that it was inhuman and beyond his understanding–is a telling indicator of respect. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/margin....nfoFy6AF.dpuf
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Old 02-29-2016, 03:58 PM   #9
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It sounds like you've made up your mind, and you're looking for others who agree, I can't help you there.

Your example above is about incremental/evolutionary changes which are usually seeable. The unicorns of history are the revolutionary changes that very few people see. Did you "see" how the internet would dramatically change retail in the 70's & 80's? And that change alone is no where near over.

History is littered with revolutionary changes that people couldn't fully foresee. The fact that you and the author can't see the big changes ahead isn't new, or predictive at all.
As to the changes in retail, I definitely DID see the possibilities, and was part of an imagineering group that was being encouraged to jump over the corporate standards. While we were losing funding from Mobil, some of our advanced prototypes were well in the works... and incredibly successful. Granted, it WAS a different time.

I think I may have been too obscure. The basic premise that CHS makes is that the Tech sector is overdone, and the historical growth over the recent revolution, has been in start up businesses that have grown rapidly and provided impetus for the markets. The unicorns are the start ups and IPO's that have dominated the scene. The growth is undeniable. The question really is, is there room for the same kind of investment in the near future, with comparable growth. Is there a saturation level? Will the next "League of Legends" or the Apple 7 phone continue current successes? Will Cognizant, IBM, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and Ernst and Young continue their domination of IT? More important, is the field of Tech growth still open to the same kind success. Where once it was all US, now we see growth in the foreign competition...The Shenzhen, Chi-X, SGX and ASX are now in a rapid growth stage.

I truly don't know, but watching the market's gyration about IPO's does pose the question of continued strength. Is the future of tech quantifiable, or a matter of trust?
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Old 02-29-2016, 04:10 PM   #10
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IMO, we need as much tech as we can handle to keep pace with the rest of the world. That said, it would be helpful to understand the ins,outs, advantages and pitfalls of various technologies so that the best available means is used to achieve the desired outcome.


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Old 02-29-2016, 04:26 PM   #11
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Earlier posters were talking about two different things. But that's just too common here. The thread title should have been: "The future of unicorn stocks".

The OP's article does not talk about the stop of innovations, if not inventions. Rather, it's just one of those recent articles about how the recent tech stock bubble is deflating, though nowhere yet as severe as the tech bust in 2000.

Even Bill Gates warned people about investing in unicorns, mythical startups with valuation of $1B each with no profits, in fact nothing much to offer beyond a promise of fantastic customer bases and incomes. Not all of them will become the next Google, eBay, PayPal, Amazon, etc...

See: Bill Gates Offers Common Sense on Unicorns - Fortune

A list of unicorns here: The Unicorn List - Fortune.
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Old 02-29-2016, 04:33 PM   #12
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Earlier posters were talking about two different things. But that's just too common here. The thread title should have been: "The future of unicorn stocks".
+1

I initially read the OP but not the link and wrongly assumed given the references to WWII innovation, etc, we were talking about the end of innovation.

Whether tech stocks that are mostly in private hands are wildly overvalued is not quite as impactfull. My guess is that they probably are, and a bunch of rich folks are going to wind up a lot less rich as a result. The potential spill over to everyone else, though, seems quite small. So nothing at all like the original tech bubble crash, which itself was almost trivial compared to the housing bubble.
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:34 PM   #13
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Earlier posters were talking about two different things. But that's just too common here. The thread title should have been: "The future of unicorn stocks".
.

Sorry-I had a brain cramp.


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Old 03-02-2016, 07:31 PM   #14
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I believe tech advances in new directions -

a world where molecules are invented specifically and uniquely to cure an individual's ailments. Computing power and biotechnology married to do things such as:

Cancer as we know it all but eliminated and becoming a "managed" illness the way diabetes is managed.

Alzheimer's breakthroughs to reduce the occurance and debilitating nature of this disease

Childhood autism preventable

Identity breakthroughs and implementation of chain block technology across the financial services industry to revolutionize payments.

Self driving autos and other apparatus freeing us to spend our time elsewhere not unlike the cotton gin in the industrial revolution #1

New insights gleaned from the gigabytes and terabytes of data that will be collected all all nodes of "life"

Technology will remarkably continue to change the life of man as we know it. Not just in the hills and jungles of the world. - in mega cities like New York. Beijing. London etc.

Buffet had an amazing comparison between the life of JD Rockefeller and someone today living in his Midwest suburban neighborhood. How much better life is today verses even the wealthiest man alive back in the 1930s...
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Old 03-03-2016, 03:26 PM   #15
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Well thought out responses... thanks. My fault for expanding beyond the social media IPO's that were the basis for the original cited article. As to that part, my thinking remains that we'll reach a saturation point and that the plethora of IPO's that created the new billionaires... won't continue. Most here will not remember the previous social bombshells that came with the CB craze, or the "cellphones" that weighed a few pounds and had a antenna.

So, of course tech will continue. I think many of the advances will be rooted in current technology. I have a grandson who is doing graduate study at Pitt, and working on the modification of the genome to further advances in preventative medicine. There are some recent news stories about the possibilities of changing our education system, to eliminate primary and secondary schools, changing to computer based teaching. Virtual meetings, conventions and even remote medical procedures may well transform travel, as we know it today. Energy technology will change much of today's economy, as will the advances in the production of food... hydroponics, fish farming, and in vitro meat are front edge products that are either here or around the corner.

The challenge for the future of technology will be in a race to produce the benefits before we blow up the world.

Just an opinion...
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Old 03-03-2016, 07:12 PM   #16
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A bump, 'cuz I just found this article about Reed Hastings, a fellow alumnus from my college... about replacing schools...

Netflix Billionaire Reed Hastings' Crusade to Replace Public School Teachers With Computers | Alternet

While the article is critical of the plan, Hastings is not alone, as Bill Gates has been a backer of computer based learning for a long time. As the squeeze on the cost of education grows at every level, look for more acceptance.

In my rural metro area, closing of 7 schools and 2 new replacement buildings costing over $30 million dollars represent the handwriting on the wall for continued funding of 1 thru 12 education. Canary in the coalmine.

Obviously not a short term change, but if there are any other cost effective plans for traditional schooling in the future, they're not evident in Illinois.
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Old 03-04-2016, 07:37 AM   #17
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Regarding unicorn companies, it's pretty obvious quite a few of them will stumble and collapse. Unicorn meat will be on sale shortly!

On the other hand I also believe that unicorn companies will continue to emerge, just as fast or even faster than before.

It's becoming easier all the time for ever smaller groups of people to launch something that becomes insanely profitable (or popular). That's in my view a natural result of progress of ever increasing power in the hands of individuals (in terms of computing power, capital needed to start, access to world markets, logistics, expertise, infrastructure, etc ..).

At the same time I'll expect an ever worsening of success rates of newly started companies. But more will start. More seeds, cheaper seeds, faster growing ones.

That'll make the entrepreneur game even more like a powerball lottery. Few will succeed and get billions, most fail and hopefully find a decent income from somewhere else afterwards.
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Old 03-05-2016, 08:57 AM   #18
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Didn't want to start another thread, and maybe this is a little bit off topic, but the link in my last post here, set me to thinking about computers and the future of tech in this area.
The article involved computer learning as an alternative to our current teacher -based school system.

Just one of many really big opportunities that lie ahead. Let me expand on this separate subject.

The town next to mine, made the decision to replace two aging public schools with a new one. The town population is 5400. The total cost of the new school is $32,000,000.

The Chicago school System is running on fumes. Possibly not enough to finish the 2015-2016 school year. The Illinois teachers pension plan is part of the $85 Billion Illinois unfunded public employee pension fund.

As the deficits increase, little has been done to look ahead with any kind of plan to reduce the costs. That's just some local info.

The numbers that bring costs back down to reality, come from the real cost of public education on a national basis. From a 2012 NPR article:

Quote:
On average, it costs $10,615 to send a kid to public school for a year. (That's federal, state and local government spending combined.) As the map above shows, that one number masks a huge variation. Utah spends just over $6,000 per student; New York and the District of Columbia over $18,000.Jun 21, 2012
How Much Does The Government Spend To Send A Kid To Public School? : Planet Money : NPR

If we extend that $10,615 to a kindergarten to 12th grade cost, it comes to $138,000 for one child. With 50 million public school student in the US, this cost begins to add up.
.................................................. .................................................. ....
So, back to tech...
My 7 year old granddaughter has been proficient in computers for 2 years, and aside from some beginning help has essentially taught herself to read and to explore and learn.

I can't imagine that the current social media and 24/7 connectivity will continue, and accordingly see a relatively short (maybe 5 year) future for the gaming/facebook/twitter type start ups.

I do think that there are more sustainable tech advances that will outlast the current "unicorns". Very far to go in many of our most expensive government operations. Defense, record keeping, statistical analysis, as well as replacement of many government functions that are people oriented... but which can be done faster and more efficiently by computers. Look at this in the same way as we can see the progress in changing over paper medical records with computer based records, and the eventual savings.

The big question is not whether tech will be the future, but how much of it will be in "new" and singular advances.
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Old 03-05-2016, 12:41 PM   #19
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Here is a chart from the WSJ on how mutual funds are ratcheting back on unicorn investments:
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File Type: jpg Unicorns.JPG (43.7 KB, 41 views)
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Old 03-05-2016, 01:18 PM   #20
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I spent 30 years in tech. The last 25 in what we called advanced technologies. Listened to analyst's from Gartner, Burton and numerous vendors on what the future of technology was. Pitched Megacorp's view on where technology was headed to clients, prospects and the same group of idiots.

Basically nobody knows squat in advance! Everyone thinks they do, bunch of sightless myopic morons, myself included. Future is all around us just waiting for us to be ready to understand.
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