Three Dangerous Ideas From Ray Kurzweil

Three Dangerous Ideas From Ray Kurzweil

Peter Diamandis, entrepreneur and founder of Singularity University and XPRIZE among many other things, interviewed his friend Ray Kurzweil at the Googleplex for a 90-minute (live) webinar on disruptive and dangerous ideas.

Diamandis promotes what he calls Abundance Thinking. He says, “By consuming and considering a steady diet of ‘crazy ideas,’ you train yourself to think bigger and bolder… a critical requirement for making impact. As humans, we are linear and scarcity-minded. As entrepreneurs, we must think exponentially and abundantly. At the end of the day, the formula for a true breakthrough is equal to ‘having a crazy idea’ you believe in, plus the passion to pursue that idea against all naysayers and obstacles.”

Kurzweil is Co-founder and Chancellor of Singularity University. He is also an XPRIZE Trustee, the Director of Engineering at Google, and “one of the best predictors of our exponential future.”

Diamandis and Kurzweil recorded a 90-minute conversation recorded on the YouTube video linked above. Here are 3 compelling ideas that came from the conversation as reported by Diamandis and sent in his newsletter. If you haven’t run across him, I recommend subscribing and having your mind blown.

The Nation-State Will Soon Be Irrelevant

Historically, we humans don’t like change. We like waking up in the morning and knowing that that the world is the same as the night before.

That’s one reason why government institutions exist: to stabilize society.

But how will this change in 20 or 30 years? What role will stabilizing institutions play in a world of continuous, accelerating change?

“Institutions stick around, but they change their role in our lives,” Ray explained. “They already have. The nation-state is not as profound as it was. Religion used to direct every aspect of your life, minute to minute. It’s still important in some ways, but it’s much less important, much less pervasive. [It] plays a much smaller role in most people’s lives than it did, and the same is true for governments.”

Ray continues: “We are fantastically interconnected already. Nation-states are not islands anymore. So we’re already much more of a global community. The generation growing up today really feels like world citizens much more than ever before, because they’re talking to people all over the world and it’s not a novelty.”

(Diamandis) previously shared (his) belief that national borders have become extremely porous, with ideas, people, capital and technology rapidly flowing between nations. In decades past, your cultural identity was tied to your birthplace. In the decades ahead, your identify is more a function of many other external factors. If you love space, you’ll be connected with fellow space-cadets around the globe more than you’ll be tied to someone born next door.

We’ll hit longevity escape velocity before we realize we’ve hit it

Ray and I share a passion for extending the healthy human lifespan.

I frequently discuss Ray’s concept of “longevity escape velocity” — the point at which, for every year that you’re alive, science is able to extend your life for more than a year.

Scientists are continually extending the human lifespan, helping us cure heart disease, cancer, and eventually neurodegenerative disease. This will keep accelerating as technology improves.

During my discussion with Ray, I asked him when he expects we’ll reach “escape velocity…”

His answer? “I predict it’s likely just another 10 to 12 years before the general public will hit longevity escape velocity.”

“At that point, biotechnology is going to have taken over medicine,” Ray added. “The next decade is going to be a profound revolution.”

From there, Ray predicts that nanorobots will “basically finish the job of the immune system,” with the ability to seek and destroy cancerous cells and repair damaged organs.

As we head into this sci-fi-like future, your most important job for the next 15 years is to stay alive. “Wear your seatbelt until we get the self-driving cars going,” Ray jokes.

The implications to society will be profound. While the scarcity-minded in government will react saying, “Social Security will be destroyed,” the more abundance-minded will realize that extending a person’s productive earning lifespace from 65 to 75 or 85 years old would be a massive boom to the GDP.

Technology will help us define and actualize human freedoms

The third dangerous idea from my conversation with Ray is about how technology will enhance our humanity, not detract from it.

You may have heard critics complain that technology is making us less human, and increasingly disconnected.

Ray and I share a slightly different viewpoint: that technology enables us to tap into the very essence of what it means to be human.

“I don’t think humans even have to be biological,” explained Ray. “I think humans are the species that changes who we are.”

Ray argues that this began when humans developed the earliest technologies — fire and stone tools. These tools gave people new capabilities, and became extensions of our physical bodies.

At its base level, technology is the means by which we change our environment, and change ourselves. This will continue, even as the technologies themselves evolve.

“People say, ‘Well, do I really want to become part machine?’ You’re not even going to notice it,” says Ray, “because it’s going to be a sensible thing to do at each point.”

Today, we take medicine to fight disease and maintain good health, and would likely consider it irresponsible if someone refused to take a proven, life-saving medicine.

In the future, this will still happen — except the medicine might have nanobots that can target disease, or will also improve your memory so you can recall things more easily.

And because this new medicine works so well for so many, public perception will change. Eventually, it will become the norm… as ubiquitous as penicillin and ibuprofen are today.

In this way, ingesting nanorobots, uploading your brain to the cloud, and using devices like smart contact lenses can help humans become, well, better at being human.

Ray sums it up: “We are the species that changes who we are to become smarter and more profound, more beautiful, more creative, more musical, funnier, sexier.”

My Take

I began studying international relations 50 years ago under an interesting professor. He was well up the chain at the CIA, Colonel in US Army Intelligence, PhD from Georgetown. Also, he was sort of a rebel. He took a liking to a somewhat rebellious kid from the farmlands.

It’s evident that the nation-state is in its death-throes. Trump and Xi and Putin are all trying to find ways to reassert power over a society and businesses that are increasingly global. Yes, there are emotional loyalties. But take a big step back and look at the sweep of history of the past 150 years. Think about what you see.

Technology throughout the entire history of humans has been both good and bad. But overall, it has benefitted humans. We eat better (well within our power of choice—don’t choose Doritos), live longer, have better housing and clothing, travel faster. We also have machines to help with backbreaking and dangerous labor.

As Diamandis says, think abundance rather than scarcity.

Internet of Things Platform Comes to Maintenance Management

Internet of Things Platform Comes to Maintenance Management

I returned from Hannover with a notebook filled with Internet of Things platform notes. Then I attend a teleconference press conference last week—and here is Internet of Things meets Maintenance Management. (OK, sounds like a B movie title, but it’s actually cool.)

Fluke acquired eMaint late last year and last week unveiled the fruit of that union. Fluke has been diligently working to connect its wide product line to the Internet (see this video podcast, for example). This announcement takes connection to the cloud.

Fluke Accelix (Accelix) is an open, cloud platform that connects maintenance software, equipment, and critical plant systems. Accelix integrates Fluke’s portfolio of wireless tools and condition monitoring sensors to eMaint, Fluke’s leading SaaS CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), and shares information with enterprise solutions of choice.

Accelix will help maintenance teams access the benefit of connected equipment, tools, measurement data and software systems by eliminating common barriers many customers face to implementing a comprehensive, affordable reliability program.

“The latest trends in maintenance solutions make great promises, yet are often too expensive and time-consuming for most organizations to implement, especially on second- and third-tier equipment,” said Brian Samelson, Fluke’s President of Digital Systems. Mr. Samelson continues, “This means that an overwhelming amount of maintenance activity happens in a black hole. Accelix solves this prevalent problem with a combination of familiar and trusted tools that connect seamlessly and are cost-effective to implement. We have removed the barriers that often separate the promise of advanced technologies from the reality of most maintenance and reliability professionals, for virtually any size operation.”

“Maintenance managers are constantly looking for opportunities to improve productivity, lower costs, and save time. This is increasingly important as teams have fewer resources to do the same job, and they need better insights into resource allocation and asset health,” said Paul de la Port, President of the Industrial Group at Fluke. “Industry data proves when managers can monitor machine health they allocate their teams more effectively and prevent serious problems from happening – all while improving safety, productivity, and uptime. In the end, equipment life is extended and savings are quantified; we believe this value proposition is sought by maintenance professionals everywhere.”

Leadership Lesson: Watch the Subtle Slide Into Complacency

Leadership Lesson: Watch the Subtle Slide Into Complacency

Ah, the warmth. It feels so good. Is it getting warmer? I’m not sure, but the warmth eases muscle stress. Frees the joints. And it gets warmer.Then, it’s too hot.

It could be the proverbial frog being slowly boiled. Or it could be me in the steam room.

Or it could be any of us in our organization.

How easily we don’t notice we’re not growing anymore. We’re not developing new services for our customer.

We just sort of gently slid into the routine.

Same people. We’re comfortable with them. No one around to upset things with new ideas.

We’re comfortable with the same surroundings. We enter and everything is familiar. We feel like we belong. We don’t notice the things that would turn off an outsider–or our customer.

What was our mission again? I sort of forget. I know it’s printed somewhere. Probably posted on a wall that has just become part of the environment.

It feels so good to be comfortable.

But…

Is that what we are placed here on Earth to experience? Is that what our stockholders or owners expect? Is that what our customers expect?

Or are we supposed to push through comfort? Find that place of discomfort that impels us toward fulfilling a mission.

What was that valuable service to people that gave passion to the founders?

Was it designing and making a product that will bring joy, relief, health to others?

Where are the big ideas that our technology can use to contribute to the growth and  development of society?

“There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

Which are you? Are you a change agent? Or are you a frog in the pot of boiling water?

Wireless, Enhanced Sensing Lead Emerson Product Announcements

Wireless, Enhanced Sensing Lead Emerson Product Announcements

This is another long post—and it is a summary—running through many of the new products introduced to the press and analysts durning Emerson Exchange 2015. If any of these whet your appetite, visit the Emerson Process Website for more information.

Another place to catch up on happenings at the conference is Jim Cahill’s Emerson Process Experts blog. He also has been introducing readers to highlighted sessions.

Machinery protection

CSI 6500 ATG protection system, a stand-alone machinery protection solution that allows users to cost-effectively introduce prediction monitoring of critical assets from the same system. Predictive intelligence is a key component to increasing availability and improving the reliability of plant assets.

These multi-functional cards can be easily reconfigured for a wide range of measurements, including the impacting or peak-to-peak data used in Emerson’s unique PeakVue technology. In addition to monitoring the start-up and coastdown of critical turbo machinery for safe operation, users will be able to utilize PeakVue technology to identify the earliest indications of developing faults in gearboxes and bearings.

With the CSI 6500 ATG, it is no longer necessary to return to the control room or open cabinets in the field to view or analyze data. The CSI 6500 ATG can be networked over wired or wireless Ethernet to deliver asset health information to authorized users through a PC or phone application.

To facilitate easy system integration with third party systems, CSI 6500 ATG is the first protection system to include a secure embedded OPC UA server.

Gas ultrasonic flow meter

A new Daniel gas ultrasonic flow meter platform elevates its well-proven British Gas design by providing two meters and transmitters in a single body to help natural gas operators and pipelines improve reliability and efficiency. Designed to maximize capital budgets by permitting two completely independent measurements with the installation of just a single flowmeter, the new 3415 (four-path + one-path) and 3416 (four-path + two-path) gas ultrasonic flow meters combine a four-path fiscal meter with an additional check meter, while the new 3417 (four-path + four-path) meter provides two fiscal meters for full redundancy and equal accuracy within one meter body. This two-in-one redundant design delivers continuous on-line verification of custody transfer measurement integrity, device health and process conditions, and improves fiscal metering confidence while ensuring regulatory compliance.

Both Daniel 3415 and 3416 gas ultrasonic meters measure flow using four horizontal chordal paths in addition to a reflective path dedicated to verification of the primary measurement, enabling improved metering insight, more informed decision making and simplified flow meter verification. For enhanced immunity to pipe wall contamination, the 3416 meter is equipped with an additional vertical reflective path to detect liquid or very thin layers of contamination at the bottom of the meter that otherwise remain completely hidden in a direct-path meter design. This allows reliable monitoring of process changes before they affect measurement, thus reducing calibration frequency and enabling maintenance to be condition-based instead of calendar-based.

Electric actuator control

DCMlink Software, a unified electric actuator control, monitoring and diagnostics platform, will allow, for the first time, Emerson customers to diagnose, configure, and monitor all electric actuators from a central location independent of protocol, actuator or host system. The software extends the useful life of field assets by providing actuator data gathering, condition monitoring, events log and prioritization of actuator alarms in a unified and consistent user interface. Actuator configuration includes custom characterization, as well as the ability to import and export historical configuration profiles.

Whether it is viewing value torque profile, live trending data or actionable alarms straight from the actuator, plant operators will be able to access detailed monitoring and diagnostics data, allowing them to take action before a fault occurs. DCMlink offers advanced control and diagnostics, including torque profile curves, initiating partial stroke test or emergency shut down and alarms in NE-107 format. Current communications support included Modbus, TCP-IP, and Bluetooth.

DeltaV v13

Version 13 (v13) of the DeltaV distributed control system (DCS) new features focus on integration, advanced alarm management, and security with an overarching design that improves ease of use and minimizes the need for specialized expertise.

DeltaV v13 delivers technologies to bring sources together for easy operator access and use. These technologies include an Ethernet I/O card (EIOC) for integrating Ethernet-based subsystems and devices, including a direct interface with smart motor control centers and substations. It improves the factory acceptance testing (FAT) experience by providing enhanced safety instrumented system simulation capabilities and easy-to-use virtualization environment.

The new DeltaV Alarm Mosaic has an intuitive alarm display that enables operators to more quickly identify, analyze, and respond correctly to the root cause of an abnormal process condition. The new release also provides trend display optimizations for better visibility of process changes.

SCADA

OpenEnterprise v3.2 release adds a native interface to the AMS Device Manager asset management software, enabling users to remotely manage and maintain HART and WirelessHART devices in wide-area SCADA networks.

OpenEnterprise v3.2 together with AMS Device Manager allows asset owners to extend the reach of their predictive maintenance capability out to their remote assets, providing a powerful and proactive method of diagnosing potential device problems remotely. This results in reduced trips to the field and helps to avoid unplanned process shutdowns, improving safety, reliability, and profitability.

The native interface of OpenEnterprise v3.2 to AMS Device Manager enables the collection of wired and wireless HART digital device data over low bandwidth wide-area SCADA networks from Emerson ROC, FloBoss, and ControlWave RTUs without adding the additional complexity and expense of external HART multiplexers. Support for AMS Device Manager SNAP-ON applications, OpenEnterprise SCADA server redundancy, multiple deployment options, and data collection for up to 10,000 HART devices ensures flexibility and scalability for a wide range of remote oil and gas applications.

Machinery health in PowerGen

Emerson now offers its power generation and water/wastewater industry customers native machinery health monitoring and protection capability within the Ovation distributed control system.
Ovation Machinery Health Monitor leverages the Ovation platform through a high-performance I/O module dedicated to machinery health functions. Simply install by inserting the module into a spare I/O slot.

With the Ovation Machinery Health Monitor, operators receive alerts from a single set of common plant HMIs and no longer need to manually check machinery functions through a separate system.
The Ovation Machinery Health Monitor also reduces the risk of cyber attack by eliminating links to standalone systems and isolating process information – all of which can help facilities meet NERC CIP and other security regulations.

Silica sensing

Costly damage to turbine blades caused by silica deposition can occur due to a poorly monitored steam purity program. The new Rosemount 2056 Silica Analyzer provides continuous accurate measurements of silica in process streams with a range of 0.5 ppb to 5000 ppb. The 2056’s usability features make it one of the easiest -to-use and high performing analyzers.

Harsh duty pressure sensing

Rosemount 3051S Thermal Range Expander with new UltraTherm 805 oil fill fluid enables pressure measurements by direct-mounting a diaphragm seal system to processes that reach up to 410°C (770°F) without requiring the challenging impulse piping or heat tracing used in traditional connection technology. In applications where ambient temperatures drop below ideal operating conditions, system response time becomes slow, resulting in delayed process pressure readings. Traditionally, this problem is solved by using heat tracing which is costly, maintenance intensive, and difficult to install. By using the new thermal range expander dual fill fluid seal, the Rosemount 3051S can reliably measure pressure at extremely high process and low ambient temperatures.

The Rosemount 3051S Electronic Remote Sensors (ERS) System now has safety certification. The ERS System calculates differential pressure through a digital architecture — and is now suitable for SIL 2 and 3 applications.

Rosemount 3051S High Static Differential Pressure Transmitter provides reliable flow measurement in high pressure applications with capabilities up to 15,000 psi (1034 bar). The transmitter’s SuperModule platform and coplanar design reduce potential leak points by 50 percent compared to traditional designs, ensuring the highest differential pressure measurement accuracy, field reliability and safety.

Corrosion monitoring

The Roxar Corrosion Monitoring system, consisting of wireless-based probes, will provide refineries with flexible, responsive, integrated and highly accurate corrosion monitoring.

Combined with the Emerson’s non-intrusive Field Signature Method (FSM) technology, a non-intrusive system for monitoring internal corrosion at the pipewall, refinery operators will be able to access more comprehensive corrosion information and corrosion rates, leading to improved operator insight and control over assets.

The system will also help identify and track opportunity/high TAN crudes and their corrosive elements. Such crudes are less expensive but more corrosive than others with the new system enabling the maximum amount of such crudes to be blended into the mix without increasing corrosion risk.

Wireless pressure gauge

Emerson Process Management has introduced the industry’s first WirelessHART pressure gauge. The Rosemount Wireless Pressure Gauge enables remote collection of field data.

The Wireless Pressure Gauge eliminates mechanical gauge common weak points by removing the components that inhibit the device from reporting/displaying pressure and providing up to a 10-year life, which reduces maintenance cost and time. The large 4.5-inch gauge face provides easy field visibility.

Leadership Lesson: Watch the Subtle Slide Into Complacency

Goals are Overrated, Substitute Energy for Passion

Mention Dilbert and the picture of smart, but socially inept, engineers mocking managers and executives pops immediately into mind. Being slightly self-mocking, Scott Adams, who created and draws the cartoon, Adams described himself who:

  • is not a very good artist
  • not a very good businessman (has more than 36 failed businesses)
  • is never the funnies guy in the room
  • yet, he’s good enough at all to build a successful business

Adams gave the motivational/personal development keynote at Rockwell Automation TechED on June 2. Some of these keynotes are worth reporting, and since I am interested in personal development both for myself and as a coach, here are some takeaways.

It’s easier to mock people that it is to come up with great ideas. Well, I guess we all have experienced that one. I just listened to a podcast with Andy Stanley who said that the word How can kill many a bold initiative and leader.

Advice almost never works. We have all given advice–to our kids, parents, bosses, direct reports. And how has that worked for you? I thought so….

Goals are for losers. What is the last goal you have set? Lose 20 lbs.? Get fit? Get more productive? How did those work for you? Replace goals with systems. Don’t say I want to lose 20 lbs. Develop a system (or I would call them habits) that guides you on your way to a healthy lifestyle and body. Have a system for how you eat, train, work, play.

Passion is overrated. Ask successful people what got them to the top, often they’ll boil it down to passion. Passion for the product, or the customer, or the company. Many factors actually contribute to success. Adams suggests substituting energy for passion. That’s one I especially like. What are we doing to enhance and sustain our energy? Food, rest, exercise, focus.

Luck can be manipulated. There exists a definition of luck as “where preparation meets opportunity.” Adams would go somewhat beyond that definition. He says change the game. If everyone has a similar approach, what can you do to change the game. He took his variety of talents, kept adding little pieces, and eventually hit on a winning formula. What can you keep adding to your portfolio that changes the game for you?