ZOMFG MosesTablet!

Paul Raven @ 27-01-2010

Jamais Cascio pretty much nails my feelings on the imminent sermon from Mount Cupertino:

Yes, I’m sure it will be wonderful, whatever it turns out to be. I’m also sure it’ll be overpriced, packed with glossy proprietary software and matched by more affordable (and more open) hardware within six months… but hey, I’m just one of the haterz, yo. I can live with that.

If you want a less partial and more sensible response, Charlie Stross has a post detailing what he hopes to see from Jeebus Jobs later today, including this important point:

Finally, if I’m going to ask for a pony, I’d like Apple to pursue a more enlightened policy towards folks who want to, er, compute on the computing device they just bought. The iPhone OS is locked down tight because under the hood it’s a kluge; if you jailbreak it you discover to your horror that everything runs as root, and there’s even a hopelessly weak root password (“alpine”) on what is actually a networked UNIX box as powerful as a mid-1990s Sun workstation. I’ll settle for a virtualized sandbox if inecessary, instead of a fully implemented security system — but please can I have a shell, a python interpreter, and some elbow room? (Not likely, but I can hope …)

Not likely, indeed. But hey, there’s only a last few hours left before the product specs get spuffed all over the intertubes like joyous geek ectoplasm, so there’s still time to get some dreaming done… feel free to catfight in the comments if you’re so inclined. 🙂


How will the earliest nanofactories emerge?

Tom James @ 04-06-2009

dimensionsJ Storrs Hall of the Foresight institute comments on what the earliest nanofactories will be like, and Michael Anissimov responds:

If nanofactories work at all, they will be very powerful. A nanofactory would be a very complicated, “huge” thing. The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology compares the complexity of a molecular assembler to that of a Space Shuttle. I think the analogy would be apt for a nanofactory as well. We are talking about a miniature factory with more moving parts and individual computers than a typical 100 million-dollar modern factory today. Difficulties with the basic technology will manifest themselves in the pre-nanofactory stage, working with individual assemblers or small ensembles of assemblers. If you’ve made it all the way to nanofactory-level MNT, you’ve already jumped the primary technological hurdles.

A point of disagreement between Anissimov and Hall is the precise definiton of “nanofactory.” Is it simply a general term for a device that can create many other things including a copy of itself, or it is a specific desktop-scale universal assembler?

Assuming the latter definition, Anissimov argues that widespread adoption of desktop nanofactories will happen much more rapidly than that of personal computers because:

There are simply too many moving parts for micromanagement to be possible — either the “code-level” operations are automated or they haven’t been established yet.

Either they work or they don’t. The smallest replicating unit is equivalent to the transistor in a personal computer – to the user it is expected to behave as a black box that performs a specific function – and if it fails to there is not much the user can do about it (if a transistor fails on a microchip can it even be repaired?).

The appropriate analogy is therefore between computers and nanofactories is between the existence of nanofactories and the existence of microchips. Microchips have found their way all over the place…

If Anissimov is right then it raises the interesting possibility that mature, desktop-scale nanofabrication may achieve widespread consumer adoption over a startlingly short period, given the ability of the machine to make copies of itself and the fact if it fulfils its basic function then it can become incredibly useful to many people very quickly.

[via Next Big Future][image from jurvetson on flickr]


iFinance – should Apple go into banking?

Paul Raven @ 24-01-2009

half-eaten appleWe’ve seen with our own eyes that the banks aren’t necessarily as competent at banking as they might like us to believe. So, Slate’s Big Money blog has a suggestion: why doesn’t some truly competent company get into the finance sector… someone like, say, Apple?

… entering the banking sector makes perfect sense for Apple once you look anew at the company’s current position and core strengths.

Take the company’s balance sheet. Wednesday’s quarterly earnings report shows it sitting on more than $25 billion in cash and short-term securities. Forget about leverage—Apple carries no long-term debt whatsoever. In this alone, Apple holds an advantage over banks currently in operation: A number of major banks, from neighborhoody Sovereign Bank to the much larger Capital One, don’t have as much cash on hand. Imagine what would happen if Apple sequestered just half of this cash as seed funding for its new bank and set aside $2.5 billion of that half for capital and startup costs. At regulated reserve ratios, that means the company could lend out up to $100 billion to hungry consumers and businesses. The personal-electronics giant in being is a personal-finance giant in waiting.

Interesting idea, or hot-air hyperbole? [story via MetaFilter; image by 4yas]


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