Killer Bots–Massive and Nano

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There are big deadly weapons to worry about, such as weapons of mass destruction that come on an ICBM or even in a suitcase bomb to frightening armies of massive killer robots.


And then there are small nanobot weapons to worry about–which don’t sound like much, but they could be the ultimate killer machines.


About 10 nanometers make up the width of a human hair, so we are talking about microscopic or bug size weaponized drones. 


Nanobots can be manufactured or scarily can be self-replicating. 


They can fly alone or in massive swarms. 


They can surreptitiously enter/exit and carry out their missions virtually undetected. 


Whether surveillance or delivering a mini-nuke or a toxin.


Nanobots could function like a biological weapon killing millions–targeted or indiscriminately. 


Cambridge University forecasts a 5% chance that nanotech weapons could cause a human extinction level event by the year 2,100


Soon wars will not be fought by people any longer–by rather by robots and nanobots.


People are too fragile for fighting and war against ruggedized and militarized bots that are designed for one purpose only…to kill, kill, kill. 


Terminators are coming–from massive to nanoscale–and mere humans will be dogmeat to these killing machines.


Add in a cyber warfare component that will turn off 21st century civilization leaving us to fend as if we were back in the stone ages, and overpopulation is the last and funniest joke any of us will ever tell. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Losing Patience With Tech Progress

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We’re so close yet so far…that’s my feeling as I grow ever impatient with the pace of technological progress. 


We have cloud computing, but still everyone has their own private computing setups everywhere. 


We have mobile computing, but still can’t get get reliable service in the Metro and all the other “dead zones.”


We have social computing, but still people are so cliquey and nasty and troll and bully each other online and off. 


We have the Internet of Things, but still things don’t really talk to each other regularly (except our smart meters).


We have robots, but still they’re relegated to factory assembly lines. 


We have natural language processing, but still can’t get a meaningful conversation going with Siri.


We have 3-D printing, but still can’t get dinner or a pair of Nikes to appear from the Star Trek like “Replicator.”


We have augmented and virtual reality headsets, but still can’t go anywhere with them without getting motion sickness.


We have biometrics, but still have to sign the check.


We have driverless cars, but still there is a driver inside. 


We have networks of information, but still it’s subject to hacking, malware, identity and data theft, and even big time EMP knockouts. 


We have immunotherapy, but still haven’t beaten cancer. 


We have nanotechnology, but still we travel through life loaded down with material possessions.


We have food and biotechnology, but still one in eight people are going hungry. 


We have space shuttles and stations, but still can’t get a colony going on Mars.


We have big data, but still information is corrupted by personal biases and politics. 


We have knowledge management, but still more than 780 million adults are illiterate. 


We have artificial intelligence, but still it’s devoid of emotional intelligence. 


We have bigger, deadlier, and more sophisticated weapons systems and smart bombs to “protect us”, but still are no closer to living in peace and brotherhood. 


All this technology and advancement is great, except that we’re left hungrier than ever for the realization of the promised technology land, and are really only halfway there, maybe. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Five Phases Of Medicine

The Five Phases Of Medicine

In many respects, medicine has come a really long way, and yet in other ways it seems like it still has so far to go.

For example, while antibiotics are used to routinely treat many bacterial infections, there are few antiviral treatments currently available–and we are left with the proverbial, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.”

Similarly, heart attacks, strokes, cancers and so many other ailments still take their victims and leave the bereaving family asking why?

In thinking about medicine, there are five major historical phases:

1. Do nothing: Get hurt or ill, and you’re as good as dead. You shudder at the words “There is nothing we can do for you.” Average lifespan for folks, 30s. If you’re lucky (or wealthy), you may make it into your 40s or even reach 50.

2. Cut it: Diseased or damaged limb or body part, chop it off or cut it out surgically. I still remember when the people in my grandparents generation called doctors, butchers.

3. Replace it: When something is kaput, you replace it–using regenerative medicine, such as stem cell therapy (e.g. for bone marrow transplants or even for growing new tissue for teeth) and bio printers (like a 3-D printer) to make new ones.

4. Heat it: Envision a future with self-healing microbes (based on nanotechnology) in the blood and tissues that detect when a body part is dangerously ill and deploys repair drones to fix them. There is no need to cut it off or replace it, you just fix it. And perhaps with DNA “profiling”(don’t like that word), we’ll be able to tell what a person is predisposed to and provide proactive treatments.

5. Eliminate it: Ok, this is way out there, but could there come a time, when with technology (and of course, G-d’s guiding hand) that we can eradicate most disease. Yes, hard to imagine, and with diseases that adapt and morph into other strains, it would be hard to do–but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

I still am shocked in the 21st century with all the medical advances and technology that we have that the doctors still say for everything from routine colds, to viruses, sores, growths, and more–“Oh, there’s nothing we can do for that.”

Yet, there is what to look forward to for future generations in terms of better medicine and perhaps with longer and better quality of life.

My grandfather used to say, “No one gets old without suffering”–let’s hope and pray for less and less suffering with future medical technology advances. 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Emperor Titus and The Micro-Drones

The Talmud tells of how the wicked Roman Emperor Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 AD was punished with a small insect that flew into his nose and gnawed at his brain for seven years.

By the time Titus died, they opened his skull and found the insect had grown to the size of a bird–the lesson was that Titus thought that he was so powerful with his legions, but G-d showed him that even a little insect sent by G-d could defeat him.

Now when I watch this amazing video from the Air Force about micro-drones, I see this story come to life all over again.

With Micro Air Vehicles, little drones the size of insects can carry out missions from surveillance to lethal targeting of enemy forces.

They can fly, hover, perch, power up, sneak up, sense, communicate, and attack.

With these micro-drones, especially in swarms, these small packages of sensors and weapons can bring a big wallop for our warfighters.

And like with Emperor Titus, you would not want these buzzing around and giving you big headaches–because these little buggers will be able to take down the mightiest of foes. 😉

Technology Forecast 2013

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I am an avid follower of everything technology and trends, but am tired of hearing about cloud, mobile, and social computing.

It’s time to get over it with the agenda of the past and get on with it with the future of technology.

In the attached graph is my Technology Forecast 2013, and here is where I see us going forward:

1) Service Provision–Cost-cutting and consolidation into the cloud is a wonderful idea and it has had it’s time, but the future will follow consumer products, where one flavor does not fit all, and we need to have globalization with a local flavor to provide for distinct customer requirements and service differentiators, as well as classified, proprietary and private systems and information.

2) Service Delivery–Mobile is here and the iPhone is supreme, but the future belongs to those that deliver services not only to remote devices, but in wearable, implantable, and even human augmentation.

3) Human Interaction–Social computing epitomized by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more is a cool way in interact with others virtually, but wall posts, email, and chats are getting cliche–next up conjoining with others with capabilities such as telepathic communication, mind melding collaboration, and even virtual sex for the outlandish.

4) Robotics and Artificial Intelligence–With something like 10,000 drones flying the friendly and not-so friendly skies and even drones that autonomously land on aircraft carriers, the next robot is coming to the ground near you–drones will become (an)droids and will eventually have the AI to become part of our everyday society.

5) Service Assurance–Enough playing defense with a sprinkling of offense against our worst enemies–it’s past time to move from trying to stop-gap infiltrators and do damage control once we’ve been robbed blind, and instead move to a hunter-killer mentality and capability–the price of being a bad boy on the Internet goes way up and happens in realtime.

6) Data Analytics–Big data isn’t a solution, it’s the problem. The solution is not snapshot pretty graphics, but realtime augmented reality–where data is ingrained in everything and transparent realtime–and this becomes part of our moment-by-moment decision processes.

7) Biotechnology–Biometrics sounds real cool–and you get a free palm reading at the same time, but the real game changer here is not reading people’s bio signatures, but in creating new ones–with not only medical cures, but also new bio-technological capabilities.

8) Nanotechnology–Still emerging, quantum mechanics is helping us delve into the mysteries of the universe, with applications for new and advanced materials, but the new buzzword will be nano-dust, where atomic and molecular building blocks can be used on-the-fly to build anything, be anywhere, and then recycled into the next use.

Overall, I see us moving from mass produced, point-to-point solutions to more integrated end-to-end solutions that fit individual needs–whether through continued combinations of hardware, software, and services, man-machine interfaces/integration, and building blocks that can be shaped and reused again and again.

From my perspective, there a seeming lull in innovation, but the next big leap is around the corner.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

I Hate Paper

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Paper has been around for approximately two thousand years, since it’s invention in China, and it has served as the medium of choice for recording and sharing information ever since.

However, enter the age of information technology and we are now able to capture, process, and store far more information, quicker, cheaper, and more efficiently than we ever could with paper.

Combine that with the environmental impact and the need to conserve, and we have numerous federal laws calling for the reduction or elimination of paper, to the extent practical.

1) The Paperwork Reduction Act (1980) calls for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to regulate collection of information and establish information policies to reduce the paper handled by the government.

2) The Government Paperwork Elimination Act (1998) mandates the use of electronic forms, filings, and signatures for official business with the public.

3) E-Government Act (2002) requires use of the Internet to improve citizen access to information and services.

All three are a recognition of the need to move from costly paper-based processes and the management of maintenance of mountains of paper records to instead leverage information technology to re-engineer and improve the way we perform information management.

It’s funny, but for me it’s almost become a personal crusade to make better use of information technology to perform our mission and business of government more effectively, and I personally keep as little paper records, as possible–instead choosing to manage predominantly online–and it’s great.

Aside from having a cleaner office–no paper files, I enjoy all the benefits of electronic filing, search, and the ability to quickly share files with others in the office without having to rummage through a stack of papers 3 feet deep!

Working in some areas that are still paper intensive for case management and so on, I have taken on the mantra, which I frequency cite of “I hate paper!”

No, I don’t really hate it, but in order to change decades old manual and paper intensive processes, we need to exaggerate a little and tell ourselves and other we hate it, so we can help change the inefficient and costly status quo.

You can only imagine how surprised I was to read in The Atlantic (20 April 2012)–that “Paper: [Is] The Material of the Future.”

Essentially, the article touts the new developments with paper using nanotechnology to make it water-proof (although you can still write on it), magnetic, fluorescent, and even anti-bacterial.

Imagine paper that you can stick to your file cabinet, spill coffee on, light up the room with, and even keep you from getting sick–yes, that’s fairly impressive!

However, while these new features are wonderful indeed and will increase the usability of paper as well as improve records management of them, I do not want to see us get complacent with reducing our use of paper and making better use of technology.

Even with these cool nano-tech improvements to paper coming our way, I am still going to say, “I hate paper!”

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Earthworm)

>Nanotechnology and Enterprise Architecture

>“Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. In its original sense, ‘nanotechnology’ refers to the ability to construct items from the bottom up.” (Center for Responsible Nanotechnology)

Two examples of nanotechnology include the manufacturing of super strength polymers, and the design of computer chips at the molecular level (quantum computing). This is related to biotechnology, where technology is applied to living systems, such as recombinant DNA, biopharmaceuticals, or gene therapy.


How do we apply nanotechnology concepts to User-centric EA?

  • Integration vs. Decomposition: Traditional EA has looked at things from the top-down, where we decompose business functions into processes, information flows, and systems into services. But nanotechnology, from a process perspective, shows us that there is an alternate approach, where we integrate or build up from the bottom-up. This concept of integration can be used, for example, to connect activities into capabilities, and capabilities into competencies. These competencies are then the basis for building competitive advantage or carrying out mission execution.
  • Big is out, small is in: As we architect business processes, information sharing, and IT systems, we need to think “smaller”. Users are looking to shed the monolithic technology solutions of yesteryear for smaller, agile, and more mobile solutions today. For example, centralized cloud computing services replacing hundreds and thousands of redundant instances of individuals systems and infrastructure silos, smaller sized but larger capacity storage solutions, and ever more sleek personal digital assistants that pack in the functionality of cellphones, email, web browsing, cameras, ipods, and more.
  • Imagination and the Future State: As architects, we are concerned not only with the as-is, but also with the to-be state (many would say this is the primary reason for EA, and I would agree, although you can’t establish a very effective transition plan without knowing where your coming from and going to). As we plan for the future state of things, we need to let our imagination soar. Moore’s Law, which is a view into the pace of technological change, is that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every 24 months. With the rapid pace of technological change, it is difficult for architects to truly imagine what the true possibilities are 3-5 years out–but that can’t stop of from trying based on analysis, trends, forecasts, emerging technologies, competitive assessments, and best practice research.

The field of information technology, like that of nanotechnology and biotechnology is not only evolving, but is moving so quickly as to seem almost revolutionary at times. So in enterprise architecture, we need to use lots of imagination in thinking about the future and target state. Additionally, we need to think not only in terms of traditional architecture decomposition (a top-down view), but also integration (a bottom-up view) of the organization, its processes, information shares, and technologies. And finally, we need to constantly remain nimble and agile in the globalized, competitive marketplace where change is a constant.