Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Do bits want to be free?

There is a lot of focus on the question of whether IP protection fosters or inhibits growth and whether bits should be free or proprietary. In reality, the response to this question can already be seen in present economics.

There are more types of offers available in a broader marketplace with more sophisticated value propositions than ever before. One example of this the wide availability of hybrid offerings - different flavors of free and pay versions of the same product or service.

For example, Linux is free but companies pay millions each year for a related service, support contracts. Individuals are paying for offsite data backups of their personal information (read: trusting offsite data backups of their personal information). Products as services, e.g.; SOA, salesforce.com, etc. are expanding, with the infinite feedback loop of the Internet available for instantaneous rating, ranking and review.

The same cable television show can be watched live, TIVO'd, downloaded onto an iPod, viewed for free on YouTube, rented via Netflix or the local video rental store or purchased on DVD just to name seven distribution mechanisms, each with its own price point. Consumers are paying for the attributes - the quality, timeliness, convenience and control of the content. Paying for attributes is not new (e.g.; higher priced convenience store milk) but the number of attributes has increased as well as the purchaser's ability to control the experience he/she has acquiring and interacting with the product.

Attribute pricing models will likely continue to proliferate, imagine customers paying for their point of maximum utility on an attribute gradient, a security/privacy gradient for example, where different levels of the service provider not tracking and selling user profiles and activities is more expensive. When will life Flashblock be available?

Annoyance-based models are another example of attribute pricing already in existence. For example, directory assistance 411 costs $0.50 - $1.50 per call where as 1-800-FREE-411 is free but requires the caller to listen to an advertisement before obtaining the requested information. Similarly some European wireless carriers are contemplating free devices and service if the customer accepts advertising-based service.

The primary principle of economics is value exchange, not price or protection. If it is not competitive to be free, or not competitive to be protected, the market will align to optimum value exchanges as can been seen on a daily basis.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pace of Encephalization

Humans have so much in their brains and so little shared outside. This has to change for true intelligence and species advancement and there is a great opportunity in developing tools to facilitate this.

1) Communication and interaction are currently limited by the mindset of the individual

Human interaction is fragile and conditions have to arrive at some optimum before meaningful communication can take place. A physical presence is generally though increasingly less required. Certain mixes of other people must be there or not be there and trust which generally must be developed over time must be present.

Only the few people in close proximity circles to others [may] have some level of understanding of what is in human minds. Peers, those that share similar ideas and values, may have a deeper but still sparse knowledge.

2) Communication and interaction are currently limited by language as the dominant tool

Communication is necessarily governed by the narrowband of language. Language was certainly an amazing evolutionary advance when it arose but it is time for new communication tools. Language is essentially a few pithy comments trickling out of multi-dimensional plane of existence or thinking on a topic. Other options to language that would allow the permissioned knowing of value systems, beliefs and history would contribute to enriched communications. Mechanisms for sharing clusters of thought rather than individual ideas would also be a start.

Two types of additional tools are needed: more tools for creating and sharing content and better tools for making the content meaningful. Content has proliferated but step function increases are coming. Humans will be creating and sharing more and more personal content (ideas, creative endeavors, personal life details, how-tos, resources, etc.) on the Internet via blogs, video blogs, tumblelogs, lifeblogging, interactive lifecasting, twittering, FaceBook, LinkedIn and other new methods. Aggregation, summarization and abstraction tools (like meta tag clouds and jaiku-style diverse feed aggregation) will be increasingly important to mark content relevancy and make it findable and interactable.

Just like businesses are wikinomically learning that they should not have boundaries at the edge of their properties, employees and ideas, individuals will hopefully start to realize the great benefits of extending their personal content boundaries.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Optimum size for intelligence

What is the optimum size for intelligence? Human intelligence is currently packaged in individuals but this need not persist in an upload world.

Even now we are already seeing the emergence of collective intelligence mechanisms such as prediction markets, wikis, extended collaborative teams, simulations and the Internet especially the meta data level and the linkage and interaction through tags, profiles, social networks, recommendations and blogs.

Applications for intelligence can explode in the digital medium with essentially unlimited mind file copy, backup and merge capability.

In some cases, less intelligence may be useful, permissioning out segregated resources for low level activities. Currently, humans only have primitive processing resource allocation choices and must generally devote, despite not engaging, their full intelligence to any activity irrespective of mundanity.

In the more obvious case, larger intelligence may be better for a disparate range of applications from pure compute power to emotional experience. Three cases are considered:

a) Large intelligence: collected capability of individuals
The general use of larger intelligence could be for an individual mind file to conduct more projects requiring cognitive capability. The activities could be for advancement, amusement or in satisfaction of any variety of goals. Merging and orchestrating diverse capable resources is non-trivial especially since mind files will likely have vestiges of ego, status-seeking behavior, narrowband communication and other EEA characteristics however coordination would likely occur via self-organizing mechanisms.

b) Large intelligence: collected raw compute power of individuals
Individuals may choose to copy and permission out raw compute resources to projects of interest but not capability in an essentially improved partial implementation of government and directed capital. Coordination is important but it is possible that architecture (e.g.; distributed or concentrated) does not matter until reaching the logical extremes of resource limitations and information processing superobjects such as Jupiter brains and Matrioshka brains.

c) Large intelligence: collected sensory experience of individuals
Emotional experience, to the degree occurring in the digital medium, could be enhanced with merged intelligence both by amplifying sensory input and providing a multiplicity of experience.