The answering machine

19. February 2011

Date: 19-02-2011
 Source: The Economist – The Difference Engine

IT WAS not quite a foregone conclusion, but all the smart money was on the machine.

Since the first rehearsal over a year ago, it had become apparent that Watson—a supercomputer built by IBM to decode tricky questions posed in English and answer them correctly within seconds—would trounce the smartest of human challengers. And so it did earlier this week, following a three-day contest against the two most successful human champions of all time on “Jeopardy!”, a popular quiz game aired on American television. By the end of the contest, Watson had accumulated over $77,000 in winnings, compared with $24,000 and $21,600 for the two human champions. IBM donated the $1m in special prize money to charity, while the two human contestants gave half their runner-up awards away. Read the rest of this entry »

Siuch selbst führen. Ein wichtiges Buch von Friedhelm Boschert

16. February 2011

Buch von Friedhelm Boschert, Februar 2011 Zeit zum Nachdenken! Die Finanzkrise ist auch eine Krise der Unternehmens- und Mitarbeiterführung. Verlust an Perspektiven, Ängste, physische und seelische Erschöpfung sind Themen einer breiten Schicht von Führungskräften. Mehr noch: die bisherige Art und Weise der Mitarbeiterführung beginnt unwirksam zu werden. Die Führungskraft rennt im Hamsterrad. Zeit zum Innehalten! Was tun? Emphatie und Intuition sind die Anforderungen an die “neue” Führungskraft. “Wagen Sie den Blick nach innen, auf Ihr Selbst”. Denn viele Führungskräfte kennen alles – nur nicht sich selbst. Doch nur wer sich selbst führen kann, der kann auch andere führen. Erst Selbstführung macht aus dem Manager eine Führungskraft mit Haltung. Das allerdings setzt die Disziplinierung des Geistes und der Gedanken voraus. Zeit zum Ankommen! Aber wie? Read the rest of this entry »

Eat People

15. February 2011
  Eat People  
  by Andy KesslerAndy Kessler has written another irreverent, gonzo book called Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs. He has graciously allowed me to copy his introduction as this week’s missive.

Andy gives us 12 Rules and a Bonus Rule that characterize game-changing companies. They are: Scale, Waste, Horizontal, Edge, Productive, Adaptive, Eat People, Markets, Exceptionalism, Market Entrepreneur, Zero Marginal Cost, Virtual Pipe, and Highest Return. Find a company that embodies these rules early, and you get in on the ground floor of the next Apple or Microsoft.

“This place is spectacular.”

It was, but I wasn’t about to let on.

“Amazing.” I stifled a yawn.

“And the artwork is something else,” Nancy, my wife, continued. “Now this is the way to live.”

Paris is one of my favorite places in the world—one giant museum. The food, the wine, the artwork; even the people are nice, some of them anyway. After a quick connection with the gargoyles at Notre Dame—one of them reminds me of a kid I went to high school with—it was time to find things my wife Nancy and I hadn’t seen before. No fan of wandering through trendy neighborhoods or doing mindless shopping, I hit on the idea of visiting a bunch of the smaller museums, set in once private homes like the Frick Museum in New York. Frick made his money turning coal into coke for making steel, later hooking up with Carnegie to form what would become U.S. Steel. He deserved a nice house. Read the rest of this entry »

Progress in Artificial Intelligence Brings Wonders and Fears

15. February 2011

    Date: 14-02-2011

  Source: The New York Times

STANFORD, Calif. — At the dawn of the modern computer era, two Pentagon-financed laboratories bracketed Stanford University. At one laboratory, a small group of scientists and engineers worked to replace the human mind, while at the other, a similar group worked to augment it. 

In 1963 the mathematician-turned-computer scientist John McCarthy started the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The researchers believed that it would take only a decade to create a thinking machine. 

Also that year the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart formed what would become the Augmentation Research Center to pursue a radically different goal — designing a computing system that would instead “bootstrap” the human intelligence of small groups of scientists and engineers. 

For the past four decades that basic tension between artificial intelligence and intelligence augmentation — A.I. versus I.A. — has been at the heart of progress in computing science as the field has produced a series of ever more powerful technologies that are transforming the world. 

Now, as the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, it has become increasingly possible to design computing systems that enhance the human experience, or now — in a growing number of cases — completely dispense with it. Read the rest of this entry »

Where Innovation Is Sorely Needed

4. February 2011

   Date: 04-02-2011
 Source: Technology Review
The pervasiveness of data threatens to upend some business models and enhance others.

Editor’s note: Today we begin a new monthly topic in Business Impact at Technology

Review: Innovation Strategies.

The world’s most innovative companies are using technology to move faster and more decisively than their competitors. They are mining data on their operations and their customers, letting their employees do inexpensive experiments, and using business software to get sprawling organizations working together. We’ll explore the industries that are most in need of fast innovation and examine new ways of doing business, with case studies and interviews from around the world.

Everyone recognizes that technology is destroying long-standing business models in news, music, and other media industries, but the next few years could also bring wracking changes in numerous other businesses, such as insurance, retail, cars, medicine, toys, and utilities. Read the rest of this entry »

Sharing Secrets to Innovate More Profitably

4. February 2011

   Date: 04-02-2011
 Source: Technology Review
Offering your best ideas to others may sound like bad business. But it’s better than keeping them under wraps, explains Henry Chesbrough, the father of open innovation.

In the world of technology, new ideas rule. But that doesn’t mean companies should keep their research labs under lock and key. Henry Chesbrough, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, has spent years documenting the benefits of “open innovation.” Chesbrough recently told Tom Simonite, Technology Review’s IT editor for hardware and software, why it works.

Technology Review: What is open innovation?

Chesbrough: It’s the idea that companies should make greater use of external ideas and technologies in their own business and allow their own technologies and ideas to be used by others in their business. The term originated in 2003 when I published my first book on the topic. Read the rest of this entry »

Four Principles for Crafting Your Innovation Strategy

2. February 2011

   Date: 02-02-2011
 Source: Technology Review

Two management consultants explain what successful companies have done to prepare for a world of constant Internet connectivity.

The economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “creative destruction” in the late 1930s—long before Moore’s law and the creative destruction that was unleashed by a doubling of computing power every 18 months. Compared with the events of recent decades, what Schumpeter saw was creative destruction in slow motion. And the pace of innovation has picked up markedly in the last five years, because the spread of smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices is letting us all take the incredible power of the Internet with us wherever we go.

To come out ahead, companies should follow four principles:

Think big, start small, fail quickly, scale fast.

Even as he built the DVD business that toppled Blockbuster, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was guided by the big idea that mailing people DVDs was a mere way station on the road to streaming movies directly into people’s homes. The market is now richly rewarding Netflix for being on the cusp of achieving this vision, but what Hastings should get credit for is how diligently he prepared for this day. Read the rest of this entry »