Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Any Color You Want...

From the July/August issue of Technology Review:

You’ve probably heard the Ford adage that a customer could have any color Model T he wanted as long as it was black. But have you ever wondered why the only choice was black? Because black was the fastest-drying paint.

Great editorial by Michael Schrage about the nexus between waste management and innovation. (For example, the first use of the steam engine was to expel filthy water from coal mines to allow deeper mining and more profitable mines.)

He sees parallel processing as the next big area of innovation. There are vast numbers of computers connected to the Internet at any given time that aren’t doing anything. Just sitting there. So what if you took those periods of “dead time” and got the computers to work together to solve complex problems? Examples of this are SETI @Home, the project where computer users can “donate” computer cycles in their quest to find evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence. More than 4 million computers have signed up.

Question: if you had billions or trillions of computer cycles to manage, what would you focus on first? Comments welcome.

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