Friday April 25, 2003

ETech Con - Day Three

This was the third (and last) day of the O'Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference. Still a winner. We didn't attend even one session that didn't make us think and give us something to discuss. No session that we attended was boring or uninteresting, nor was any session exactly what we thought we expected. I think this is the first conference I have attended where I can truly make those claims..

We missed the first keynote today, but caught the second, Google, Innovation, and the Web, presented by Craig Silverstein, the first employee hired by Google's founders and now Google's Director of Technology. The talk really impressed me. Google, Inc. combines careful hiring practices, a short but articulate mission statement, innovation, experimentation, focus on user experience, and a firm understanding of the need for process. Not only that, they have been successful with this combination and believe they will continue to be successful. I was impressed; here's a company that actively pursues code reviews, status updates, engineer testing, and product maintenance. Wow.

The third keynote featured Eric Drexler who provided a fascinating, animated discussion of the past, present, and possible futures of nanotechnology, entitled Nanotechnology: Bringing Digital Control to Matter . He began with an interesting question: What is the main digital storage system on the laptop computer in front of you? The surprising answer: It's not the hard disk. It's the DNA in the myriad bacteria that are contaminating the surface of the machine and its parts.

Nanotechnology can harness the principles demonstrated by the bacteria, the principles demonstrated in Nature by chemical reactions, biological systems, and physics. The starting point in understanding what Nanotechnology can be is to realize a fundamental principle: If a given thing exists, things like that other thing are possible. Nature shows us that molecular machine systems can exist: cheaply, cleanly, and working with molecular precision.

If you are interested in the future of Nanotechnology, take a look at the sites for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology as well as Dr. Drexler's organization, the Foresight Institute.

If you are interested in any of the technologies I've discussed in the past three days, consider attending next year's Emerging Technologies Conference. It should provide a lot to think about!

ETech Con - Day Three ( in category SciTech ) - posted at Fri, 25 Apr, 23:00 Pacific | «e»