The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Computer Science Education Week

education2.pngThe National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) kicked off Computer Science Education Week earlier this week with an event in Washington, D.C., celebrating new commitments and partnerships among the Federal government, school districts, nonprofits, foundations, private industry, and others that will expand access to, and student learning in, computer science in the K12 space.


If we think the millennials are digital natives, this next wave will embrace IoT and other computing advances to a whole new level.


It always makes me wonder how the future of services is being embraced within our educational systems and what we should do about it.

An IoT example everyone can understand and many of us have already encountered

Sometime this holiday season I am going to be at some function where I’ll be asked about a real IoT application. I usually like to have an example that a layperson can relate to and ideally experienced -- more than the smart thermostat or metering that we’ve been talking about for over a decade.


This short video about Kroger does a good job (about 36 seconds in) of explaining an innovation that many have already experienced and not really known it was happening. They’ve had QueVision® implemented at my neighborhood Krogers for a while. It really does cut down queue length for the consumer.



We know IoT is having impact – when it doesn’t draw our attention. It is also a good example of using automation in a subtle way to improve the experience of everyone involved in a process.

It is not a panacea though, these efforts may point out issues in other processes. You can’t make just one part of a business super-efficient without having impact elsewhere. There is a lesson there as well.


What’s a voxel??

20141205_162307.jpgI was in a discussion today where someone used the term Voxel as the 3D printing equivalent of pixel (essentially a volume pixel). I’ve never heard it used that way. Once I heard it, I looked around and noticed that there are a number of 3D printing products using the term.


Since recently there was the first 3D printed object in space, I had to have some reason to post on 3D printing again.


Now, I just need to figure out how to integrate it into a holiday party conversation.


Tags: 3D| 3D printing
Labels: 3D| 3D printing

Macro and micro opportunities – it is more than just perspective

magnify.pngLately I’ve been in a few conversations that focused on Smart Cities. I view this as a specialization of a set of problems that deal with systems of system -- a macro view of an opportunity set. I was in a discussion today with some folks talking about IoT but they had a very micro view of the opportunities and value possibilities. It seemed to be a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. They were almost totally focused on looking at the data in and the management of the devices.


With the shift in computing capabilities taking place and the new approaches to highly parallel and distributed computing the approach to programming will need to shift away from the more common approaches to environments that specialize in highly distributed data and processing techniques to generate value.


The macro issues of data blending and derivation to identify patterns and behaviors will shift our definition of value and even what’s possible. This is going to enable new levels of automation and that means new skills for those involved. It is all part of a fundamental shift in computing over the coming years, so it is not so much about ‘smart cities’ as it is about a shift from ‘things’ to a focus on the actions enabled and the value generation possibilities within and around an ecosystem.


There was a twitter chat that I was able to sit in on for a few minutes today and they were talking about the ‘digital’ potential and direction for 2015. To me, the separation implied by the word ‘digital’ was jarring.


We need to focus on the potential at the micro and the macro level and the holistic view of what it is going to take culturally, behaviorally and technically. It is an ‘and’ not an ‘or’ world and not everyone or every enterprise or city will progress at the same rate – and that’s OK and hopefully we can understand why.


Machine Intelligence, business applications and retooling


thinking.pngOne of the areas that has had a significant renewal of public interest recently is the application of AI techniques, both in our personal lives as well as within the enterprise.


For those interested in learning more there are some courses on Coursera and EdX that cover the foundations of AI, but I have yet to find one that goes into real world applications. It seems there could easily be some industry specific coursework defined. Have you seen any that are useful??


I was in a discussion just this morning with someone and asked them about the intersection between User Interface Design and Automation, since in many cases humans are scarce and computing is abundant so a human centered design may actually be self-constraining. This will shift the kinds of designs we will accept.


The Machine Intelligence Research Institute recently put out A Guide to MIRI’s Research, which I’ve found to be an interesting resource for those thinking about the application of AI techniques and possible unintended consequences.


It states: “AI theory currently isn’t about implementation, it’s about figuring out how to ask the right questions.” That aligns with a post I put out a few weeks back about the goal of cognitive computing.


Although the Guide seems to be targeted at people looking to work in AI, there are some areas useful for those interested in learning more about the foundation of the topic. MIRI is fairly focused on AI safety – essentially not having a SkyNet scenario.


Whenever I read material in this space I always think back on the Heinlein book: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.


Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
Follow Us
About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.