Listen to this
eyes a rest.
Quote of the Week.
NBIC, BANG, and COMBINE.
UFOs 'R Us.
Incredibly poetic justice.
There's MUCH More
I Can Do For You!
Check out my other services that can
business or organization benefit from future
A Look Back, From
2020 to 2005.
Fifteen years is really beyond our event
The Seed Of
Talk about the growth of cell phone.
About 'The Harrow Technology Report.'
to Table of Contents
Do you prefer to let your
ears do the work of keeping you in-touch with, and
thinking about where technology is taking us? If
so, "The Harrow Technology Report" is also available
in an audio-on-demand, M-P-3 version.
If you have an M-P-3
player on your system (and most do, such as Window's
Media Player, RealPlayer, etc.), the link below will
either stream the file to you, or, depending on how
your system is configured, it might download the
file before playing it. Alternatively, if you
specifically want to download the file, simply use
the right-hand mouse button on the link, and choose
"Save Target As..."
Also, find out how you can
listen at whatever speed is most comfortable for you
through the FAQ at http://www.theharrowgroup.com/help.htm
Here's where to listen to
this week's issue!
Back to Table of Contents
NBIC (the converging of Nanotechnology,
Biology & medicine, Information
sciences, and Cognitive sciences) represents
the bedrock of the next wave of technological
changes that will radically affect our present and
future. Yet as descriptive as the expanded version
of the NBIC acronym is, the acronym itself is not
very user-friendly or descriptive.
So it's no surprise that many
folks at the recent "NBIC 2004" conference
looking to replace NBIC with something that's easier
to pronounce and more intuitive. For example, as
pointed out in Corante Tech News by reader Kenneth
Thomas of ETC Group refers to another name for NBIC
BANG (Bits, Atoms, Neurons
For another take, an
unidentified individual suggested:
COMBINE (COgno, Meets Bio,
Of the two, I far prefer the
first. Yet what I particularly found interesting
about the COMBINE idea was an explanation of why
COMBINE misses the boat; it gets to the root of the
issue of why the NBIC or BANG or COMBINE revolution
is likely to change our world more fundamentally
than any endeavor in history:
"...It was remarked that this [COMBINE acronym]
would not work because "nano" needed to be first --
because the convergence of these fields springs from
the fact that all these systems are tied together at
the nanometer scales:
Biological systems (proteins are 10-1000
Cognitive systems (neurotransmitters,
receptors and synapses are all measured in
Information technology systems, [which]
are becoming faster because of nano-level material
When working at this level of
the tiny - at Nature's level - the historic
differences between atoms and molecules, and even
between things "living" or "dead," simply don't
As we get better at this -- and
we are currently but infants playing in Nature's
sandbox -- can we doubt that it will 'change all the
rules' -- again?
Back to Table of Contents
UFO (Unidentified Flying
Object) stories abound, pegging UFOs as alien
invaders, high technology military vehicles, optical
illusions (typical government position), and more.
Yet their existence, much less a definitive
explanation, has never been publicly and verifiably
proven to most peoples' satisfaction.
Which makes our activities of
Jan. 14, 2005 all the more poetic.
You see, it's WE who
have now landed a very real, car-size "flying
saucer" on another world!
As described in the Jan. 13,
2005 CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/01/13/huygens.titan/index.html)
and WikipediA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huygens_probe),
these are artists' renderings of the Huygens space
probe parachuting through a dense atmosphere similar
to Earth's 4 billion years ago, is on its way to the
surface of Saturn's largest moon "Titan." Titan is
the only moon in our solar system that has an
atmosphere, is thought to be composed of about 50%
water ice, and is larger than the planet Mercury -
But It's 'Art' No More!
During its successful Jan. 14
descent and subsequent landing, the probe yielded
the first-ever "in-person" pictures (such as the one
and data, from what may prove to be an environmental
precursor of how life developed on Earth.
(One example of the boundary between a highland and
a lowland area on Titan.
Doesn't look too different from those on Earth, does
A few more images taken by the
("Channels carved by flowing liquids, and a
river delta." On Titan! -
seaside vista below [presumably a methane sea] on
Titan was created by Mike Zawitowski using software
called Terragen. The colour has been added, but the
terrain details are based on aerial images returned
to Earth by the Huygens probe as it fell towards
Titan on Friday 14 January."
Interestingly, a number of amateurs, such as Mike,
are receiving the raw image data from the probe and
are releasing photos, such as this seaside, faster
(Below is the surface of Titan at the probe's
landing spot. -
These 'rocks' are apparently a few inches across. -
And what is Titan's actual surface composition?
"... A mixture of water and hydrocarbon ice."
A Long Way Off.
Of course, don't expect our
fledgling passenger space industry, with Virgin
Galactic's, er, takeoff of SpaceShipOne as its
poster boy (http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/),
to be arranging sightseeing trips to Titan anytime
Aside from the eight year (one
way) journey, Titan is currently a wee bit
inhospitable with winds faster than 311 MPH and
temperatures at a chilly -292 degrees F. But given
Titan's water, its atmosphere, and the fact that it
radiates more heat than it receives from the Sun,
we're sure to glean fascinating insights.
WE Are It!
Yet perhaps the most
significant initial insight from the Cassini-Huygens
landing, at least from that poetic standpoint, is
that UFO stories are now a verifiable fact.
And -- UFOs 'R Us!
Back to Table of Contents
You may not realize it,
but there's much more to The Harrow Group
than just "The Harrow Technology Report."
For almost twenty years,
as I've been sharing my research on the
ever-faster-moving and converging technologies that
are changing how we work, live, and play, I've also
been working directly with businesses and
organizations, large and small, to help them
understand and address how these changes may affect
them, their customers, and their customers'
businesses, through a series of:
Highly engaging, interactive, multimedia,
constantly-updated presentations and keynote
speeches to individual businesses, internal groups,
and trade organizations, helping participants to
viscerally understand and appreciate how technology
has brought us to where we are today, and where it's
likely to lead us tomorrow.
Beginning with the presentation described above (to
give all participants a common understanding and
insight), the workshop further engages attendees to
explore how this march of technology might affect
their individual businesses and organizations, and
their specific needs.
Individualized consulting services, available via
phone or in-person, to help you explore the topics
and trends discussed in The Harrow Technology
Report, and related issues.
Please continue at
for additional information.
Then, contact me at
Jeff@TheHarrowGroup.com with any additional
questions, to discuss fees, and to schedule a
consulting event. I look forward to working with
End Self-Serving Advertisement
Back to Table of Contents
This is an article I've
recently written for Future Brief
Future Brief is published by New Global Initiatives
and offers brief summaries, commentaries, and other
resources to help people, especially those on The
Hill who form national policy, to keep up on
technological innovations. But Future Brief adds an
important twist -- it "takes one step back and
looks at the greater convergence of the accelerating
changes in science and technology, with the equally
rapidly accelerating changes in society and
It doesn't surprise most of us
that sophisticated "tags" or "codes" can now be
embedded in digital information - consider the
copyright information within some digital picture
and movie files, or "digital watermarks" (steganography)
that can be invisibly embedded (such as at
or on a more simplistic basis, the
mostly-transparent network logos that are
increasingly appearing during TV shows.
But active embedded information
on a piece of paper?
Generally, we consider a piece
of paper without our names or code numbers or bar
codes to be anonymous, such as "survey forms" that
we receive in the mail, fill out, and return. Yet
this isn't always the case; "invisible inks" can be
used to identify such paper in a way we won't
notice. Now, a recent announcement from CrossID
promises to take this idea of identifying individual
sheets of paper a giant leap forward.
As described in the Feb. 11,
2004 RFID Journal (http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/790/1/1)
brought to our attention by readers Elliot Wheler
and others, the CrossID concept actually prints
tiny, wireless, passive, "chipless" RFID (Radio
Frequency IDentification) tags costing less than
one-tenth-of-a-cent each, onto any desired sheet of
paper (such as government and corporate documents,
currency, stock certificates, and any other
documents that the issuer wishes to be tracked.)
How It Works.
"The system uses "nanometric" materials—tiny
particles of chemicals with varying degrees of
magnetism—that resonate when bombarded with
electromagnetic waves from a reader. Each chemical
emits its own distinct radio frequency, or “note,"
that is picked up by the reader, and all the notes
emitted by a specific mix of different chemicals are
then interpreted as a binary number. Since the
system uses up to 70 different chemicals, each
chemical is assigned its own position in a 70-digit
example, if the chemicals A, B, C and D were
assigned to the first, second, third and fourth
positions in the 70-digit number, then a mixture
consisting of A and C would represent the binary
number 1010 followed by 66 zeros. CrossID is testing
readers that operate at three to 10 GHz, which is
higher than the frequencies commonly used by
wireless LANs and handheld computers, although the
company has not made a final determination on what
frequency the readers will use."
Don't Write Your Shopping
List On THIS Paper!
These chemical "bar codes" can
be read at a distance of up to ten feet, without
line-of-sight. So, for example, an office that
dealt with sensitive information could replace all
notepaper, and paper used by copiers and printers,
with blank sheets that had been pre-printed with
invisible and unique identification codes. They
would then install CrossID readers at all building
exits, and the system would signal if someone
attempted to leave with a concealed piece of paper
that had been generated within those walls. It
would even identify the specific piece of paper
since each is serial-numbered! (Note that I have no
association with CrossID.)
Another possibility for a
"mixed" sensitivity environment (where the most
important documents should be tracked but most need
not be) would be to have the computer systems force
all sensitive documents to only be printed on
printers that contain CrossIDed paper. Or to have
special printers actually print CrossID codes and
serial numbers (or other information) onto every
sensitive document as it is printed.
Insecure information could still be printed on
un-tagged paper as usual.
But if this were implemented,
why couldn't nefarious people simply copy secure
documents onto un-tagged paper on a copy machine?
One answer would be to embed CrossID readers within
every copy machine so that they can detect a secure
document on the glass -- and then refuse to copy
it. With a bit more sophistication, the system
could simultaneously alert Security that, at this
time and place, this specific person (whose image
was captured by the security camera near that
copier) attempted to copy a secured document with
this specific ID.
the way, the concept of automatically preventing the
copying of certain documents is already a reality --
a growing number of color copiers have "currency
detection" algorithms built-in and refuse to copy
designated currency(s), even for legal uses
PCs are being affected, as new versions of Adobe's
Photoshop contain a similar currency filter
-- Slashdot has an extensive discussion of this
The Bottom Line.
By 2006, CrossID anticipates
that their paper-tagging solution will be ready to
go, costing less than one-cent per page (or product
label or garment that contains the chemical
codes...) And they're not alone -- other companies,
such as Inkode (http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/363/1/1/)
have their own technological solutions to the issue
of identifying paper. (Inkode's solution has
already been on the market for some time; they embed
tiny metal fibers in paper, plastic packaging, "chipless
RFID tags," etc., that provide a unique signature
(rather than specific information) when queried by
So it seems that the
once-anonymous sheet of paper will not be, for
There's Also A Dark Side.
There are many valuable uses
for such technology. But many of the concerns we've
explored in the past regarding RFID technology in
here) certainly apply to "tagged paper" as
well. Imagine, for example, if a merchant paid you
change with a tagged banknote that was matched to
"You" via your "loyalty card" (even though you paid
cash). Subsequently, as you walk down the street,
every reader in every storefront (or on every
utility pole) that you pass could also note the
bill's ID and uploaded it to a database that
consolidated the information. Not only could this
database track your movements, but it might also
know exactly what you later purchased with
that banknote, and where...
It's Up To Us.
This combination of
"technology" plus "networks" certainly has the
potential to relegate elements of "privacy" to the
historical dustbin of other "quaint" ideas, such as
not locking your doors at night, or not having to
carry your "papers" (plastic in this day and age)
But through careful,
informed choices, it may be possible to
implement the societally-valuable aspects of these
technologies without treading on the dark side. It
remains up to us -- to each of us through our
elected representatives, to assure that technology
is only implemented in ways that we are, quite
literally, willing to live with.
Back to Table of Contents
It's always interesting to
"look back" to today from some point in the future
to see how crude our seemingly wonderful technology
will soon seem (just look back a similar 15 years
from today and you'll get the idea.) These
"retrospective" discussions range from the
improbable and the silly, to some that may hold more
than a little probability of "catching the wave."
So reading these (with a careful grain of salt) can
give us some insight as to what may (*may*) lie
ahead. Recently, reader Brad Hay brought an
interesting one to our attention.
"Looking Back From 2020"
in the Dec. 16, 2004 Silicon.com
captures nuggets of what we may be experiencing 15
years from now. Of course the individual milestones
and their dates may be wrong -- perhaps wildly so --
but I promise that baring unexpected changes that
upset the technology applecart, we're all going to
be feeling similar to how Ian McNairn, the winner of
a competition for a good retrospective article,
It's worthwhile to check this
, and to then look back to how you might have felt
in 1990 if you tried to imagine today's processor
speed, memory, hard disk storage, medical
technology, NBIC advances, Web commerce, and far
Again, Don't Blink!
Back to Table of Contents
Finally, it seems that
England's University of Warwick has come up with a
way to help dispose of old useless cell phones and
their add-on faceplates. According to the Dec. 1,
2004 Reuters (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=
they've created a new biodegradable plastic that can
be used for the shell of a cell phone.
This might help recycling
facilities, yet recycling remains expensive.
Perhaps there's a way to get consumers to happily
recycle their old phones themselves?
This packaging innovation
offers them a flower.
Encased behind a transparent
window, a lone seed sleeps away the years until the
old plastic case (not the potentially
environmentally unfriendly circuitry and battery
within) is literally planted in the ground. The
plastic then degrades and helps the seed germinate.
Voila -- a flower!
It's a novel idea, and a cute
one at that. And it could well be an incentive for
direct consumer recycling. And if the concept were
expanded to the many other plastic cases that we
produce each year, it could lead to a positive
Oh -- and the scientists assure
that the seed WON'T germinate until the phone is
"planted" -- probably a good thing, although perhaps
flower-growing cell phones would be so conspicuous
that they might help reduce their use in business
meetings and in other inappropriate places...
Back to Table of Contents
"The Harrow Technology Report" explores the innovations and
trends of many contemporary and emerging technologies, and then draws some less
than obvious connections between them, to help us each survive and prosper in
the Knowledge Age.
"The Harrow Technology Report" is brought to you by Jeffrey
R. Harrow, Principal of The Harrow Group.
Where To Find "The
Harrow Technology Report:"
- Via Email -- Sign up for automatic delivery of this journal
(which you can also use as a notification that a new issue is available on
the Web, if you prefer to
read it there), by one of these methods:
- The fastest and easiest method is to go to this Web
and follow its instructions.
- Send an Email message to TheHarrowGroup@SendMeMore.Net
with the word SUBSCRIBE in the Subject line.
The Web -- You can, of course, also read this journal directly on the
Web at www.TheHarrowGroup.com
Additionally, to support automated access schemes, the most current issue of
the journal will always be available at this persistent link: www.TheHarrowGroup.com/current.htm
Copyright (c) 2001-2005, Jeffrey R. Harrow. All
Jeffrey R. Harrow maintains that all reasonable care and skill has been used
in the compilation of this publication. However, he shall not be under
any liability for loss or damage (including consequential loss) whatsoever
or howsoever arising as a result of the use of this publication by the
reader, his/her/its servants, agents or any third party.
All third-party trademarks are hereby acknowledged.