Thursday, November 04, 2010

Kasparov: Innovation comes to a halt

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.


Anonymous said...

Two rather bad grammatical errors in this post, although the one is inadvertently humorous. I must say, I rather like the idea of a toilet with a censor inside it: does it wave a little curtain in front of the occupant? The other, "... if it thinks your off the bowl..." is rather worse. I'm guessing you've been reading too many American blog posts.

Anonymous said...

On a trip to the US about 2 years ago, I noticed that more than half of the public toilets I used were self-flushing. This was mostly in major cities and airports, but if public toilets had this technology 2 years ago, it can't be that new...

Around 10 years ago Canberra had these bizarre self-cleaning public toilets! Every couple of hours the doors would lock and water would pour down the walls and wash everything away! It couldn't get all the needles though... those were by far the most digusting toilets I have ever seen! And, not surprisingly the floor was always wet. Stupidest idea ever.

Ric said...

The technology around us, like language, is constantly evolving. It was very different in Dickens' day, although there would have been just as many left behind.