Sunday, December 25, 2016

Look Who Is Talking

Having watched technology change over some almost seventy years, one thing you can say if that it is unpredictable.

Silicon Valley back in the early 60s was a Defense haven, filled with technical people focusing on developing new ways to combat the perceived Soviet threat. Salaries were reasonable and living conditions likewise.

My first exposure to a start up was in the late 60s where the result was a great learning experience. Failure results in decapitation and details count. Thus the world of venture investment could be ruthless, it was not a DoD contract of cost plus.

Then the 70s and the Nixon years of Creative Destruction. DoD work disappeared, Congress mandated more and more, and out of the Carter mess came entrepreneurs. My first exposure was a meeting in San Francisco to see if I wanted to join a VC fund, my answer was no, better to create than to try and pick winners and losers.

Then the 90s, and the Clinton I explosion. No more enemies, global markets, and the technology we had used in the military and space efforts was consumerized. Chips got smaller, cheaper, more powerful and "services" became a mantra. The "dot com" boom and bust. Such things as came and went to be supplanted by Amazon.

Now dis intermediating classic distribution channels, which is what most of Silicon Valley does, is a business model for a while it does not afford a long term stable plan. Long term is fifty to a hundred years. After every millennial is walking around heads down on a iPhone what else is there.

Now one of the losing Presidential advisers notes that she has a set of recommendations for the winner. These "suggestions" is of course from a lawyer, not anyone who has apparently in my opinion done anything. She recommends:

First, the next Administration must have an aggressive strategy to develop the human capital necessary to power the digital economy in this country. That means educating our people in computer science and STEM education from an early age. ... If talented students from abroad come to American universities and obtain advanced degrees in STEM fields, we should be bringing them into our economy, not pushing them out.

First if all, STEM is really Science and Engineering. Math is a science and technology is a support function. Second, I firmly believe that only a small percent of the population has both intellect and personal drive to prosper in that space. It is not something we just spend billions on educating everyone. It is achieved by supporting winners and, sorry to say, neglecting losers. Sixty years ago Gov. Rockefeller has NY State Regents Scholarships and then Science and Engineering Scholarships. If you demonstrated competence you got free tuition in New York schools. You rewarded the achiever. Second, I agree that keeping people who we educate with our tax dollars is essential. I have seen mass numbers of MIT graduate students get funded on US Tax dollars for PhDs and then go back and compete against us. That frankly is insane. Again the proponent seems to miss this fact. It is a remnant from Clinton I.

Second, the next administration needs a plan for promoting widespread entrepreneurship and inclusion in the digital economy. Tech shouldn’t just be a Silicon Valley story; we should see similar innovation clusters emerging across our country, creating millions of jobs as well as products and apps that consumers demand. One policy... proposed in that vein was to support incubators and accelerators for 50,000 new entrepreneurs in underserved areas. Another was to increase access to capital for small and mediums-sized businesses and startups, especially for minority and female entrepreneurs.

New companies survive and prosper only in a ruthless Darwinian environment. I have spent the last five years wandering around these Millennials warm spots where everything is supplied, and they have whatever they need until reality strikes. Success from these is zero percent! It would be nice if the proposer of this idea had the slightest understanding from a hands on perspective. Lawyers just do not.

Third, there must be a commitment to connectivity. We should settle for nothing less than universal, high-speed broadband for every household. To ensure people can get online through free wifi, we should replicate and extend programs like e-rate, which was successful at hooking up public schools and libraries to the internet, ...

Again she proposes more Government spending. Take a look around. There is lots of WiFi. It is at all libraries, schools, and even public housing. That is NOT a problem.

Finally, helping tech succeed means keeping the internet open, as well as private and secure for users. That begins with embracing the FCC’s net neutrality rules, the staple of a free and open internet, rather than seeking to undo them. It means ensuring that users—all of us—continue to trust our internet-based communications platforms. 

Internet Neutrality is more than just an Open Internet. It is an issue of  privacy, autonomy, individuality, and the right to be informed, a corollary of the First Amendment. We clearly do not want any carrier to throttle our information. Frankly here many Republicans are father to the Left than Joe Stalin and it is shameful.

I conclusion perhaps one should examine these policy and strategy proposals. They reflect an echo chamber and isolated view of reality.

Where is real technology going. Simple. Biotech. Whether it is immune therapy, CRISPR, Gene Drives, and the like, it will be a period of Darwinian development of new ways to manage the world in a way we never anticipated. The Apps folks in my opinion will be left behind. Programming may for the most part become the 1950s Secretary Pool of the future. Understanding the plethora of bio tools in the tool kits and expanding them into what we see today in software will be the basis of a new change.

This environment will not be Theranos like but it will be the explosion about Kendall Square in Cambridge. It will be as a massive a change as we can imagine. Some will be in Silicon Valley, bit much may move East.

The proposals made reflect what the Press sees as technology. Wake up and smell the Cas9.