Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Anyone remember the 1980s?
Robots that Jump: "Anyone remember the 1980s? This was the era when each increase in computer speed brought radically new software to the consumer. When the Mac doubled its speed, it went from black and white to color. When chips got faster digital phones got practical. Each time a game console got faster there was a huge jump in the games. Doubling computer speed in the early 1990s allows them to browse the web efficiently. Today, there's little effect of comparable increases in hardware.

So, I'm not going to bash Microsoft for the usual reasons. But I do think they are becoming about as interesting as the power company. After all, in the 1920s tech boom power companies were the dotcom darlings. Today, nobody thinks twice about a wall socket. We all use it, but ignore its wonders. The same will happen to Microsoft, unless it wakes up to robots as the next tech boom.

By the way, this critique extends to the whole PC industry. Linux is not the future the way some imagine - replacing Windows with Linux is like changing the wall socket from 115 to 120 volts. It may have positive effects, but it is same old, same old... Strange how the tech pundits don't even see this. Strange how the 'top 10' lists of tech trends still don't mention robots, despite commercial products like the Roomba and a rapidly expanding hobby community. Check out Servo for the Byte magazine of the robotics revolution - it's coming, and it is coming fast. A few companies (e.g. VIA) know this. Even Microsoft will likely send a few reps to the upcoming Robonexus conference late in 2004. But it will be too little, too late. This guy quoted from Microsoft will be wrong, quite wrong...

'We have a treasure chest of technology that allows us to be very agile,' says Rick Rashid, Microsoft's senior vice president for research. 'If the world changes, we can change with it.'

But so what - Microsoft is helping robotics by forcing hardware advances! I'll just dump Longhorn and use that 6GHz computer to make my car drive itself home."

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