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No return

We frequently hear about the importance of a Return on Investment (ROI) to justify a decision being made to proceed down a certain path, especially when implementing a new technology. Clearly there are some systems for which there’s a clear ROI, such as replacing a completely manual process with an automated system (that may actually replace a person or people), or replacing existing training with an equivalent that’s cheaper. However, how many companies end up not implementing an innovative technology that may result in huge benefits, because they can’t assign an exact dollar value to that implementation? The areas in which a system may add value or benefits may be clear, but assigning a monetary value to that benefit may not be. For example, you might assume that a new applicant tracking system that automates and innovates some processes will add value, but how many of the efficiency improvements are…

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RadicalAbundance

I’m reading K. Eric Drexler’s new book Radical Abundance, which explores the impact of atomically precise manufacturing (APM). Drexler predicts that APM will be with us soon and that it will transform the global economy in ways that can be compared to the industrial revolution of the 18th century or the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. That is to say, he predicts it will be among the biggest shifts that have ever occurred. Drexler compares the introduction of APM with the digital revolution of the past few decades, asserting that APM will essentially turn the production of physical goods into a form of information technology. Just as digital technologies made it possible to produce unlimited copies of information products (books, recorded movies, music) at essentially zero cost, APM will enable the production of physical goods at a tiny fraction of the cost of producing them today — enabling…

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italiangreekaverage

A photographer has taken thousands of images of women, grouped by nationality, and created composite images that show us the “average” woman from each of the countries involved. Most of these “average” faces do indeed look quite representative of the country named. (In fact, a few of these ladies even looked kind of familiar to me.) But they hardly look average. Check out the average Polish woman: “Average” would mean that half the women in Poland are better looking than this — she would be a five on a scale from one to ten. But  surely even a  finicky guy would give her at least a seven. And it’s not just Poland. There is not a five (or lower) to be found anywhere on that list. Like all the children in the town of  Lake Woebegone, it would seem that all the average women in the world are above average….

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ggss

What’s better than reality? How about augmented reality — applications that interact with the world around us to provide startling new insights and capabilities. On this week’s edition of The World Transformed, special guests Jospeh Rampolla and Collin O’Malley join hosts Phil Bowermaster and Stephen Gordon to discuss the opportunities (and risks) represented by this amazing new technology. What happens when the whole world becomes a computer interface? Give it a listen… Listen to internet radio with The World Transformed on Blog Talk Radio About The Guests Joseph Rampolla has been a law enforcement officer for 18 years. In 1994 he received a Masters of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College in New York City. Joseph holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law &  Society from Ramapo College of New Jersey. He became a police officer in 1995 and currently holds the rank of Captain for…

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moonshot

Astro Teller, Google’s Captain of Moonshots (and my personal nominee for Guy with the Coolest Job Title in the World) says that it’s easier to make a 10x improvement in performance than it is to make a 10% improvement in performance: Because when you’re working to make things 10 percent better, you inevitably focus on the existing tools and assumptions, and on building on top of an existing solution that many people have already spent a lot of time thinking about. Such incremental progress is driven by extra effort, extra money, and extra resources. It’s tempting to feel improving things this way means we’re being good soldiers, with the grit and perseverance to continue where others may have failed — but most of the time we find ourselves stuck in the same old slog. But when you aim for a 10x gain, you lean instead on bravery and creativity —…

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1935kindle

…or Nook, as pictured in 1935. More details here. Well, they certainly went to a lot of trouble. It’s too bad they attempted only to capture the book-reading capability. Imagine what a 1935-version of a Kindle Fire would look like — even a scaled-down one that could simply show movies and play music in addition to enabling you to read books. The thing would have taken up a whole room. (Or possibly house.) Cross-posted from The Speculist.Read More…