CES 2010 Tech Summits.

CES brings a lot more than gadgets to the table in Las Vegas.   Tech Summits focus on niche markets in technology and offer products and information related to many specific niches such as education, moms, children, seniors, and more.   Here are some briefs on several of these summits coming up at CES in January:

Kids@Play Summit (http://ces2010.kidsatplaysummit.com/)

– Dynabook Creator, Alan Kay; MIT Media Lab professor Mitch Resnick

– Exhibitors Include: InternetSafety.com, Robonica, and more

Mommy Tech Summit (http://ces2010.mommytechsummit.com/)

– Olympic champion Shannon Miller, the most decorated American gymnast in history and key spokes-mom for BabyPlus

– Exhibitors Include: General Motors, Toshiba, Black and Decker, Mobi, Picnik, BabyPlus, Eye-Fi, Muvee, Print Shop, Smilebox, TxtBlocker, Pandigital, Spectorsoft

Higher Ed Tech Summit (http://ces2010.higheredtechsummit.com/)

– Under Secretary for the US Department of Education, Martha Kanter; Harvard Graduate School of Education professor in learning technologies Chris Dede
– Exhibitors Include: Zipcar, 2Tor, Cengage Chegg.com, Kaplan University, Princeton Review, Pearson, more

Digital Health Summit (http://ces2010.digitalhealthsummit.com/)

– Bruce Henderson, board director of Continua Healthcare Alliance, & Jonathan Linkous, executive director of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA)

– Exhibitors Include: Continua Health Alliance, American Express Open, Easy Scripts, Inc., Smoke Anywhere USA, Sunlighten, U.S. Jaclean, and more

Silvers Summit (http://ces2010.silverssummit.com/)

– Jim “Oz” Osborn from the Quality of Life Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, & George Dennis, president of TVEars

– Exhibitors Include: First Street, WellCore, Myine Electronics, Jitterbug, ClearSounds, Dakim, Doro, Sonic Alert, TV Ears, and more

CityCenter Las Vegas is Springing to Life and Showcasing World Class Technologies [A Sponsor Thank You Post]

Disclosure:  Please note that the Aria Resort and Casino and Vdara Hotel are this year’s Sponsors for our Technology Report Coverage of the CES 2010 Conference.  For our disclosure statement please click here.

Here at Technology Report we’re gearing up for the biggest computer technology show of the year, CES Las Vegas.     We’re also very excited to see the world’s largest and most technologically sophisticated construction projects come to life in the center of the Las Vegas Strip:   CityCenter Las Vegas, which includes a group of remarkable properties including two that are our sponsors this year for the CES Conference Coverage:   Vdara Hotel and Aria Resort and Casino.     Even by the blockbuster building standards of Las Vegas, CityCenter is a remarkable new addition to the Las Vegas landscape.   Located along the strip just to the south of the Bellagio Hotel, CityCenter is a virtual city within a city.     Several of the properties are now open such as the Vdara Hotel, Crystals Retail and Entertainment Center, and the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

The Aria Resort and Casino opens December 16, just in time for the year’s biggest show: CES Las Vegas.   The Aria will offer guests the most advanced hotel guest services and green building technologies in the world as noted below.

For the first time outside of very select prior installations, CityCenter and Control4 have created a personalized “smart” automation for every guestroom at the Aria Resort and the Mandarin Oriental.   Every guestroom device is networked via a full gigabit of bandwidth.

Rooms will greet the guests for their first entry using  lighting and curtain controls and an introduction to the TV room controls.

Rooms have  one-touch remote control of lighting, room temperature, television/video systems, music, wake-up calls, draperies and requests for services.   Nightstands are also equipped with a touchscreen for room controls.

All the Aria rooms feature 42″   HDTVs, laptop connectivity, and access to room controls.   The TV also acts as a communications center for the room.

If you don’t have your reservations yet for CES 2010 (or even if you do!), you’ll want to consider a stay at the Aria Resort and Casino.    Click here to book now.

DARPA Red Balloon Challenge – Social Media Information or Disinformation?

The DARPA Red Balloon project launched 10 weather balloons across the USA this morning in a well publicized effort to gauge the power of social media in completing the task of finding all balloons and reporting their lat and long coordinates back to DARPA.   The first person or team to do that wins  $40,000

Many teams have sprung up across the country and are acting competitively – I think probably because of the large payout – making the project very different from a simple test of crowdsourcing where the social media “universe” might work together for the fun of the game, reporting the coordinates publicly.     As of 2:40 PM EST we have no winner and I can’t even find a single online reference to a lat long location of a balloon.

Secretiveness appears to be trumping the social media crowdsourcing here, so I’m not sure DARPA is measuring things as advertised – though maybe they also wanted to look at the deception / competition angle.

More from my post at JoeDuck.com:

DARPA – the advanced technology research wing of the US Military – is always coming up with the most fun research and today’s Red Balloon social media experiment is no exception to that rule.

Ten huge red weather balloons were launched this morning at 10am EST and DARPA will pay 40,000 to the first team or person that can identify all the balloons by number and latitude / longitude.

Now, in my view as a social media expert (aka a web surfer), DARPA’s payout of 40,000 is distorting the experiment in a confusing way, encouraging secretiveness and deception rather than cooperation.    That may be intentional, but I think they wanted people to “really try” and wrongly felt this was the best way to do it.    All of the serious efforts I’ve seen so far are actually  *discouraging* people from using the power of social media to find the balloons, instead asking them to email or phone in sightings and then in some cases share in the proceeds, in other cases promising to give them to charity.

DARPA should consider repeating this experiment as a TWITTER crowdsource where there is NO money offered and each report is posted at Twitter where the crowd can sort the fakes from the real data.    I think that task would likely only take minutes rather than the hours the current project appears to need to get a complete result from the secretive teams.

Here are more stories  about the DARPA Red Balloons:

Wall Street Journal: Spot 10 Balloons, Win $40,000

Gizmodo:  DARPA’s Giant Red Balloons Officially at Large

CES 2010 Keynotes

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is more than just a showcase of the world’s latest and greatest technologies, it is where industry movers and shakers often announce new innovations and set the tone for how technology will move forward in the coming year. For many years Bill Gates of Microsoft led the keynote lineup, but with Gates’ retirement to pursue the objectives of the mega-philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates foundation it is now Steve Ballmer who effectively “opens” CES with his keynote talk the night before the official conference begins.

We’ll also be live blogging the CES Press Event on Tuesday where several highlighted innovations from the conference make their debut.

SOURCE:  International CES

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

6:30 p.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft CEO

Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 after being the first business manager hired by Bill Gates and was named chief executive officer in 2000. With Microsoft’s goal of delivering an integrated platform to enable a seamless experience for consumers across PCs, devices and services, Ballmer is focused on continuing Microsoft’s leadership across the company’s seven businesses.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

8:30 a.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center

Gary Shapiro

Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO

Gary Shapiro will deliver his annual state of the industry address immediately before the 2010 CES opening keynote from Ford President and CEO Fred Mulally. Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the U.S. trade association representing some 2,000 consumer electronics companies and owning and producing the world’s largest tradeshow for consumer technology, the International CES. Shapiro is an active leader in the development, launch and marketing of HDTV. He has testified before Congress on HDTV and other technology and business issues more than 20 times. He co-founded and chaired the HDTV Model Station and has served as a leader of the Advanced Television Test Center (ATTC). He is a charter inductee to the Academy of Digital Television Pioneers, and in 2003 received its highest award as the industry leader most influential in advancing HDTV.

Update:  Yahoo’s Carol Bartz will not be speaking at CES 2010:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2355792,00.asp

Thursday, January 7, 2010

8:30 a.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center

Alan Mulally

Ford President and CEO

President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, Alan Mulally, will deliver the opening keynote address at the 2010 International CES. “Alan Mulally has positioned Ford as a leading innovator in the automotive industry, and we are pleased to welcome him back to CES,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. “For the auto industry and all other businesses that use technology, CES is the single must-attend event where business gets done.” Mulally will deliver his keynote address, following a State of the CE Industry keynote address delivered by Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. Mulally joined Ford in 2006, after serving as executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Mulally is known for his innovation and focused leadership, while working to transform Ford into a lean, global enterprise. He has served as a past president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and is a former president of its Foundation. Additionally, Mulally served as a past chairman of the Board of Governors of the Aerospace Industries Association. He was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009, “Person of the Year” in 2006 by Aviation Week magazine and one of “The Best Leaders of 2005″ by BusinessWeek magazine.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

11 a.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Theater

Carol Bartz

Yahoo! CEO

Carol Bartz has served as chief executive officer and as a member of the Board of Directors of Yahoo! since January 2009. Previously, Bartz served as executive chairman, president and CEO of Autodesk, Inc. During her 14 years at Autodesk, the company diversified its product line and grew revenues from $285 million to $1.523 billion in FY06.

She previously held positions at Sun Microsystems, most recently as vice president of worldwide field operations and an executive officer of the company. Before joining Sun, she held product line and sales management positions at Digital Equipment Corporation and 3M Corporation. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the National Medals of Science and Technology Foundation. Ms. Bartz also serves as a director of Cisco Systems, Inc.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

4:30 p.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center

Paul Otellini

Intel President and CEO

Paul Otellini became Intel’s fifth CEO in 2005, succeeding Craig R. Barrett. Otellini previously had served as Intel’s president and chief operating officer, positions he held since 2002, the same year he was elected to Intel’s board of directors. Otellini is now focused on continuing Intel growth by extending Intel Architecture into adjacent market segments of embedded, handhelds and consumer electronics and to continue building new businesses by tackling big problems.

Friday, January 8, 2010

9 a.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Theater

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo

Nokia CEO

Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo is preparing to deliver a keynote address at the 2010 International CES as part of the third annual Technology and Emerging Countries (TEC) program, which focuses on technology’s role in furthering economic and sustainable development.

Kallasvuo was appointed president and CEO of Nokia in 2006. He has held several executive positions after joining Nokia in 1980 as corporate counsel, including executive vice president, North America; Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Kallasvuo has been a member of the Group Executive Board of Nokia since 1990, and was nominated to the Nokia Board of Directors in May 2007. He has been Chairman of the Board of Nokia Siemens Networks since its formation in 2007.

Friday, January 8, 2010

4 p.m. Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Theater

Zhou Houjian

Hisense Chairman

Zhou Houjian, chairman, Hisense, will deliver a keynote address at the 2010 International CES as part of the third annual Technology and Emerging Countries (TEC) Program, which focuses on technology’s role in advancing economic development.

Under Zhou Houjian’s leadership, Hisense Group Co. Ltd. has grown from a small regional multimillion dollar company to a large global multibillion dollar conglomerate. With a worldwide workforce of more than 60,000 employees, Hisense has over 300 sales companies and more than 60,000 service outlets around the globe. It has 13 manufacturing facilities in China, as well as in North and South Africa. In addition, it has three R&D facilities in China, as well as in the U.S., South Africa, and Belgium. Its products are exported to 130 countries and regions throughout the world.

Zhou has twice won the honor of China Central Television’s Business Man of the Year (2000 and 2005), a similar award to Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. He is also recognized as one of the most influential persons since China’s economic reform policy was established in 1978 and has been named as one of the “Top Ten Electronic Information Leaders since China’s Economic Reform.

SyNapse and Blue Brain Projects Update

As noted before I think the two most promising “Artificial Intelligence” projects are Blue Brain and DARPA SyNAPSE and I’m happy to see in this Boston blog “Neurdon” by some of the SyNAPSE project folks a few of the DARPA bucks going to elaborate on some of the technical goals of the SyNAPSE project:

SyNAPSE seeks not just to build brain-like chips, but to define a fundamentally distinct form of computational device. These new devices will excel at the kinds of distributed, data-intensive algorithms that complex, real-world environment require…

It’s very exciting stuff this “build a brain” competition.  Although I think the theoretical approach taken by Blue Brain is more consistent with what little we know about how brains work, I’d guess SyNAPSE’s access to DARPA funding will give it the long term edge in terms of delivering a functional thinking machine in the 15-20 year time frame most artificial intelligence researches believe we’ll need for that ambitious goal.

My optimism is greater than many because I think humans have rather dramatically exaggerated the complexity of their own feeble mental abilities by a quite a … bit, and I’d continue to argue that consciousness is much more a function of quantity than quality.

Another promising development in the artificial brain area is in Spain where  Blue Brain project partner universities are working on the project:  Cajal Blue Brain

Social Networking as a “Hive Mind”

Via this Forbes article we hear from Joshua Michel-Ross at Oreilly Media that the internet is transforming social activity into what he calls “The Rise of the Social Nervous System”.     It’s a provocative concept that is appearing more and more in the technical and sociological literature.   Although clearly part of the comparison of the collective mental activity to a “hive mind” stems from Science Fiction such as the Borg in Star Trek, it’s also true that human social relationships are of profound importance to the species.   Online social networking has clearly reached a high enough level of use and social interactivity that “virtual socializing” is poised to eclipse “real socializing” in terms of how many hours we spend with each in a day.   Although I’m sure on average we still spend more “real time” than “virtual time” with friends and family, I’d predict this will change within a decade or so, in part as passive TV viewing habits shift  to more interactive online social activities.

As I noted over at my personal blog, Twitter is very important as its simple intervace and explosive growth bring millions of mainstream users into the social media maelstrom.    It’s certainly not clear when all this socializing is going to take humanity, but I’d argue it’s already clear that human relationships are undergoing one of the most significant transformations since the rise of the types of social interactions that came about as cities began to replace rural living, and associating with others of like interests became more important than associating with your neighbors.    On balance these changes are not necessarily good, but I think they are inevitable as people tend to flock most easily to those of like mind who share the same general sensibilities about the world.   Ironically the very technologies that are theoretically connecting us to billions of others may also serve in part to advance our tendency to practice “group think” and only associate with the niches that suit us.   On the optimistic side we may find that the global  social network and ubiquitous interactivity will – for the first time in history – present us with opportunities to collectively solve problems we could not possible solve alone.    As with most technologies it’s up to us how we choose to use the power, so let’s use it wisely.

Blue Brain Project – IBM has not withdrawn support.

The Blue Brain project represents the most promising effort to date to reverse engineer a human brain. In phase one of this project, completed last year, the team has modelled a rat neocortical column using an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer. Contrary to popular misconceptions there is little reason to believe that a human brain differs all that dramatically from that of many other animals. Many scientists now believe that the most significant difference between human and other animal brains is mainly the larger number of interconnections via a denser brain neocortex region. Surprisingly, the neocortex is a hugely redundant structure where billions of neurons are densely packed into interconnected neocortical columns.

Although it is not the stated goal of the project which is designed primarily to help understand the brain and diagnose brain disorders, the Blue Brain project may be the first to deliver a true “Artificial Intelligence” via this process of reverse engineering.

Thankfully the recent rumor reporting a problem between IBM and the Blue Brain project appears to be false. Technology Report has confirmed with IBM Switzerland that the Blue Brain project is waiting for Phase II funding from the Swiss Government. See the statement from Blue Brain project director Henry Markam below.

A recent intriguing development with Gamma oscillations and the Blue Brain AI simulation is reported here at Neuronism.

Henry Markram, Project Director as quoted by IBM Switzerland to Technology Report on January 19, 2009:

The funding:
There is a serious misconception that IBM somehow funded or donated to
support the Blue Brain Project. The BBP project is funded primarily by the
Swiss government and secondarily by grants and some donations from private
individuals. The EPFL bought the BG, it was not donated to the EPFL. It was
at a reduced cost because at that stage it was still a prototype and IBM
was interested in exploring how different applications will perform on the
machine – we were a kind of beta site.

The Collaboration:
The Blue Brain Project is a project that I conceived over the past 15
years. I chose the name because of the Blue Gene series which is a
fantastic architecture for brain simulations. When we bought the BG, we
also had to make sure that we have the computer engineering and computer
science expertise to run the machine and optimize all the programs. So BG
came to us with IBM’s full support as a technology partner. This component
of the collaboration is invaluable to the Project and will continue and
grow as long as we have a Blue Gene or other architectures from IBM. This
is by far the major component of the collaboration.

IBM Research at T.J. Watson, also contributed a postdoc that was sent to
work with us at the EPFL and assigned a researcher at Watson to work on
some computational neuroscience tasks. The research and term assigned to
these postdocs is done, a success and published. Actually, the term expired
almost a year ago, and the IBM postdoc, Sean Hill, actually transfered and
is now an employee of the BBP and not IBM. The researcher at TJ Watson
worked on a specific problem of collision detection between the axons and
dendrites and this is done very well and already published. Although very
important projects and contributions, this is a small part of the BBP which
is carried out at the EPFL and involves, neuroscience, neuroinformatics,
vizualization, and a vast spectrum of computational neuroscience.

BBP needs BG’s to continue the project. The architecture is perfect for
brain simulations. When we manage to get our funding to buy the next BG/P
finalized, we will start Phase 2 and that will of course involve the basic
(and most significant) technology collaboration, and most likely also many
new collaborations on specific research targeted topics where we see that
IBM can, and would like to, contribute. So this is an intermediate phase
while we get ready for phase 2 – molecular level modeling.

BBP sees IBM as a key partner in the BBP and I do think that IBM also sees
the value in the BBP. We are getting ready for Phase 2, but it has not
started until we get the next BG series.

More about Blue Brain is here

CES 2009 Technology Sessions

CES is best known as the world’s most prestigious showcase for consumer technologies and keynotes by tech luminaries, but CES also hosts hundreds of conference sessions where panelists discuss everything from the video game economy to developing world technology. Last year I found the session about technology innovations in the developing world both fascinating and inspiring.

Here’s a list of the session categories and the links will take you to CES summaries of each of sessions:

Artificial Intuition a key to AI?

Convergence08 was a great conference with many interesting people and ideas. Thankfully the number of crackpots was very low, and even the “new age” mysticism stuff was at a minimum. Instead I found hundreds of authors, doctors, biologists, programmers, engineers, physicists, and more clear thinking folks all interested in how the new technologies will shape our world in ways more profound than we have ever experienced before.

My favorite insights came from Monica Anderson’s presentation on her approach to AI programming, which she calls “Artificial Intuition“. Unlike all other approaches to AI I’m familiar with Anderson uses biological evolution as her main analogs for conceptualizing human intelligence. I see this approach as almost a *given* if you have a good understanding of humans and thought, but it’s actually not a popular conceptual framework for AI, where most approaches rely on complex algorithmic logic – logic that Anderson argues clearly did not spawn human intelligence via evolution. Yet Anderson is by no means a programming neophyte – she’s a software engineer who has researched AI for some time, then spent two years programming at Google and then quit to start her own company, convinced that her AI approaches are on the right track.

Anderson’s work is especially impressive to me because as someone with a lot of work in biology under my belt (academically as well as corporeally) it has always surprised me how poorly many computer programmers understand even rudimentary biological concepts such as the underlying simplicity of the human neocortex and the basic principles of evolution which I’d argue emphatically have defined *every single aspect* of our human intelligence over a slow and clumsy, hit and miss process operating over millions of years. I think programmers tend to focus on mathematics and rule systems which are great modelling systems but probably a very poor analog for intelligence. This focus has in many ways poisoned the well of understanding about what humans and other animals do when they … think… which I continue to maintain is “not all that special”.

Anderson’s conceptual framework eliminates what I see as a key impediment to creating strong AI with conventional software engineering – ie having to build a massively complex programmable emulation of human thought. Instead, her approach ties together many simple routines that emulate the simple ways animals have developed to effectively interact with a changing environment.

Combining Anderson’s approach to the programming with the physical models of the neocortical column such as IBM Blue Brain would be my best bet for success in the AI field.

Surface Computers. Very Cool.

Microsoft is demonstrating a very exciting touch technology – Surface Computers – that are coming soon to a Las Vegas near you. Check out the demo tape at Channel 10. (hmmm – loading problems?). Wait, here’s a shorter one at Popular Mechanics.

Aside from the potential $25,000? cost to spill your coffee and ruin this computerized table this really is an awesome technology, bringing two great user interface features to the “table” literally and figuratively.  The first is touch, which is a nice interface for many forms of navigation and the second is a large screen, which is almost always desirable as a big enhancement of the user experience.

Imagine sitting at your coffee table pulling up email, adjusting the TV, ordering up a pizza for delivery, and researching the influence of the Jacobian Matrix on search engine results.    It doesn’t get much better than that.