Friday, December 01, 2006

SAF06 - How I learned to stop worrying and love the imminent internet singularity...

Garry Flake

Microsoft Live labs

Live Labs is a partnership between MSR and Windows/Windows Live.

Singularity - introduced by Vernor Vinge in 1993 - the idea that the exponential speed of technological improvements will produce super-human capabilities, making the future completely unknowable.


Is it the end of humanity??

Making a case for the internet singularity

  • Democratization
    • Greater and greater power in devices
    • Lower and lower entry barriers
    • Content
      • documents
        • office, html
      • images
      • movies
      • audio
      • publishing
        • blogs
      • software
        • opensource
      • research
        • wikipedia, search
      • metadata
        • tags, play lists
  • Power law distributions and long tails
    • The weight of the tail is greater than the head
    • Coined by Chris Anderson an a Wired article
    • Implications
      • Consumers start to become producers
        • Playlists
        • Remixes and mashups
        • Aggregations...
      • The small producers may outweigh the large producers
      • But is it all worth reading/listening/watching? I'm doubtful...but the important thing is that the good stuff bubbles to the top.
  • Internet ecosystems and network effects
    • The value of a network increases as a function of the number of participants
  • The Innovators Dilemma
    • Cray killed by SGI
    • SGI killed by Sun
    • Sun killed by PC
    • PC killed by cellphone?
    • The first companies must destroy themselves to survive - innovations come in from the bottom
    • Companies often fail to look downward - they only look upward
    • Online world causes the innovators dilemma to run much faster - months versus years

The internet as a mirror

  • We are putting more and more information on the internet
    • The internet becomes more and more a reflection of the physical world
  • Because it is on the internet it is accessible
  • Analysis occurs across the internet
    • For example, data mining of natural language based upon internet hosted information (text)
    • For example, genome data
    • For example genome research papers on the internet so that data miners could access both the research and the data - programmatic data miners can access both the papers and the data and result in new discoveries.
    • This is a circular process
  • The body of knowledge increases

Live Labs

  • A little under a year old, reports to Ray Ozzie
  • A virtual organisation that aspires to hit a suite spot between
    • Users and businesses
    • Short versus long term
    • Problems and solutions
    • Science and engineering
    • (This sounds dubious to me...)
  • Garry then gave a demonstration of Microsoft Live Labs- Photosynth which is worth viewing if you haven't yet tried it.

My thoughts - lots of opportunity if you know how to mine it. Analytical techniques and tools become so important in this.

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