Russell laid out the results of a fascinating experiment in which advanced ALS patientscompletely locked into their brains and unable to move or communicatewere able to drive robotic devices, talk with computers and make cups of coffee through these types of interfaces. But he went even further. "How about programming and reprogramming the brain? I want to learn French, why cant I have a USB port in my brain?"Finally Michael Knapp, the CEO of Cambrios, laid out a fascinating electrochemical application of nano/biotech. His company plans on using proteins to initially improve LCD manufacturing, adding capabilities that are either impossible or difficult to do with traditional manufacturing techniques. Knapp used the abalone as an example of how biological processes turn a flaky inert substancein this case chalkinto a super-hard shell. The goal of Cambrios? His company is working on using genetic engineering to develop proteins that can do the same thing with copper and other inert metals. The key here in each of these disciplines, Knapp, Russell and Wolfe agreed, would happen where chemistry, biology, medicine and physics come together. Those disciplines dont speak the same language now. But if nano pioneers have their way, they soon will. Another thread during the conference was how technology advances are bringing transaction processing and business intelligence together. Bill Janeway, vice chairman of Warbug Pincus, talked about how advanced technologies are changing business and our definition of risk. "Where computational [advances are] having a real impact is not so much in having risk, but in real-time analytics, running against very large dynamic data sets." Janeway went on to describe how real-time analysis enables dynamic pricing. "Basically you are generating in real-time elasticities, using point of sale, with demographic data, with weather data, to make a more rational judgment on when you cut the price on those 17-inch TV sets and blow them off the shelves." Read an interview here about how real-time data analysis will transform our society. He pointed to Mike Stonbreakers new company, Streambase, as one of the new tools being used to analyze data in real time. Split-second decisions, based on analysis and models, have become essential in the financial world. "If youre competing against Goldman, response time in milliseconds is essential. If it takes two seconds, youve already lost." Janeway went on to describe how technology is roiling the financial world. "Darwinian competition at the capital markets has clearly demonstrated that the distribution of both good and bad things is far different from the bell system. Fat tails are even fatter. The sophisticated guys do a better job of reading the data." But even with all of that information, "it still leaves you with what is in effect an uninsurable world where the second law of thermodynamics [still rules]." In a short but compelling presentation, Elliot Nossthe CEO of TuCowspainted a chilling picture of how the United Nations and some countries are trying to wrest control of the Internet from ICANN. Noss argued that ICANN-based standards are essential for the Internet. "It works because of common standards and an unspoken agreement between users. But at the heart is the uniqueness of domain names and IP addresses." If what Noss called the "kabal" of local governments and the UN were to take control of the Internet, expect censorship and more taxes to follow. "Censorship on the Internet becomes orders of magnitude easier [when] national governments, not global Internet users, control the single authoritative root." His solution: Get involved and speak out: "Let the government know your feelings, that the Internet is above narrow national interests. ICANN needs great people who love the Internet to try and participate." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Its all coming, Russell insisted, but "the only way to get there is to develop materials and techniques that listen to the body and then communicate."