I'm always impressed at how the ex-Champ Gary Kasparov seamlessly transforms himself from an angry polie one day to being some sort of guru the next, charming his way through a crowd of technologists.
Speaking at a technology event earlier this week, Kasparov told his audience that innovation in America, genuine innovation that aparently serves as a catalyst for economic advancement, has come to a halt. Quoted by Forbes, Kasparov said: "We are surrounded by gadgets and computers like never before. They are better each time; a little faster, a little shinier, a little thinner. But it is derivative, incremental, profit margin-forced, consumer-friendly technology — not the kind that pushes the whole world forward economically."
I suppose in some ways he's right. And here I have in mind, not just America, but specifically my current home of Japan. Here, you're surrounded by all kinds of tech that are basically eye candy or that don't really solve a problem at all.
You guys are probably yet to see these, but walk into any large electronics store in Tokyo today and you'll find 3D TV! Problem is, you've got to wear the appropriate googles to see the 3D effect (although Toshiba will soon fix that). And how about self-flushing toilets? Just about the only thing that these things won't do is actually wipe your butt.
But who the hec really needs 3D TV anyway? And why do we need self-flushing toilets? As it happens, I found myself in one of these poop units yesterday and the damn thing kept flushing itself. Turns out that there's some sort of censor inside that detects either your movements or your position or both. If it thinks your off the bowl, it flushes. So, lesson learnt: next time, I gotta sit my ass still.
All that said, I think that Kasparov is also wrong. Forbes reports that, according to him, the last piece of tech that was truly revolutionary was the Apple II! If he believes that then he's never heard of the mobile phone. Or the web! These two combined will totally change the way we consume information and, more critically, the way we buy and sell. In fact, it's already happening.