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A melhor análise sobre a CES 2011:

This year’s show, Dediu argues, marks the end of the PC-era: it’s finally being disrupted. The basic concept of disruption is that a low-end offering (in this case, tablets) emerges to displace existing solution (PCs). The reason this takes place is that the current solution has improved to such an extent that it provides more performance than a majority of users able to usefully employ.

This means that the iPad and its many clones were not really the main story of the show. The main story — which almost nobody covered — was that this year’s CES marks the beginning of the end for Microsoft and Intel.

This transition has been a long time coming in the PC industry. Ironically enough, both of these two big players have seen the writing on the wall for almost a decade. But as is so often the case, incumbents find it immensely hard to disrupt themselves.

Both Microsoft and Intel have suffered from the same problem that most successful companies face when dealing with disruption. They cannot find a way to profitably invest in low-end offerings. Think about it from Microsoft’s point of view: now that Windows 7 has been developed, to sell another copy, they don’t have to do a single thing. Because of this, it becomes very hard for any executive to advocate the complete development of a low cost OS that will run on tablets: not only would it cost Microsoft a lot to develop, but it would result in cannibalization of its core product sales. Intel has the exact same issue. Why focus on Atom, or an even lower-end chip, when there is so much more margin to be made by focusing on its multi-core desktop processors?

This would be fine — except for the coming extinction of the PC.

The wheels are just starting to fall off. At CES, for the first time, almost all of Microsoft’s OEM partners abandoned Microsoft exclusivity; and Microsoft’s next-generation operating system has abandoned Intel exclusively for the first time. There’s no reason to believe that either of the two companies are going to be able to turn this around. On one hand, ARM processors are perfect for powering these handheld devices. Manufacturers can customize to their heart’s content. And Android is on track to dominate the operating system space (though maybe not profitably). Both ARM and Android — Armdroid — are providing everything that tablet manufacturers need, and doing it more effectively and at a lower cost than Microsoft and Intel are able to.

Via Harvard Business Review

Antes do coroa esculachar com sua lucidez, um trechinho de um artigo da Harvard Business Review sobre os bancos entrarem na onda do micro-crédito:

A NYT front-page article explored how the much-celebrated phenomenon of micro-lending, offering small loans to individuals and entrepreneurs in the poorest countries as a way to lift them from poverty, is facing a global backlash. Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work in the field, was watching in horror as powerful, hungry, often-reckless banks were rushing in to generate big profits from an idea they either didn’t understand or didn’t care about. “We created microcredit to fight the loan sharks; we didn’t create microcredit to encourage new loan sharks,” Professor Yunus fumed. “Microcredit should be seen as an opportunity to help people get out of poverty in a business way, but not as an opportunity to make money out of people.”

I love innovation as much as the next person–probably more so. But this makes me crazy! The story of finance over the last 25 years has been the story of innovation run amok–and of our systematic failure, as a society, as companies, as individual leaders, to learn from mistakes we seem determined to keep making. It might be condo loans in Miami, synthetic derivatives in London, or credits to yak herders in Mongolia, but it’s déjà vu all over again: good ideas gone disastrously wrong, genuine steps forward that ultimately bring markets crashing down.

É aí que entra o Warren Buffet, com uma fala tirada de uma entrevista que você deveria assistir:

As I fumed once more, I thought back to some words of wisdom from Warren Buffet, who continues to amaze with his common-sense brilliance. Buffet gave the best explanation of this phenomenon I’ve ever heard in an interview with Charlie Rose. The PBS host, talking to the billionaire about the same disaster Michael Lewis writes about, asked the obvious question: “Should wise people have known better?” Of course, they should have, Buffett replied, but there’s a “natural progression” to how good ideas go wrong. He called this progression the “three I’s.” First come the innovators, who see opportunities that others don’t. Then come the imitators, who copy what the innovators have done. And then come the idiots, whose avarice undoes the very innovations they are trying to use to get rich.

O coroa esculacha ou não esculacha??

Na verdade, o que vai abaixo é um puta raciocínio acerca da relação/conflito entre homens e máquinas. O pano de fundo é o xadrez, e o autor dos raciocínios ninguém menos que Garry Kasparov, que disputou várias partidas contra supercomputadores, perdendo para o Deep Blue em 97.

Kasparov notes that computers play chess not by simulating human reasoning, but instead by comparing all possible moves and their consequences — the resulting board positions, subsequently available countermoves, possible counter-countermoves, etc. — until time runs out and a decision is necessary. And time will always run out; there are 10^40 possible legal board positions and 10^120 possible games, so even today’s fastest computers can’t be exhaustive. But they can be thorough, precise, and consistent. They evaluate lots of options, compare them rigorously, and never ever overlook or forget anything that they’ve been programmed to take into account.

These attributes, when coupled with enough computational muscle, make chess computers unbeatable by people. So much for the intangible yet profound value of human creativity, intuition, and spark, right? Doesn’t the example of chess illustrate that these things, lovely though they may be, are rendered insignificant by fast chips and cold logic?

Bem, a resposta é não. Como diz o autor do artigo, “Thankfully, no.”.

Kasparov writes that in competitions allowing any combination of people and computers, “The teams of human plus machine dominated even the strongest computers. The chess machine Hydra , which is a chess-specific supercomputer like Deep Blue, was no match for a strong human player using a relatively weak laptop. Human strategic guidance combined with the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming.”

This is incredibly good news, isn’t it? It suggests when we talk about the inimitable spark of human creativity and intuition we’re not just patting ourselves on the back, even in rational domains like chess. In this arena, a thoughtful human expert and a well-designed technology has proved to be a powerful combination. Kasparov says it well: when playing with the assistance of computers, “we [people] could concentrate on strategic planning instead of spending so much time on calculations. Human creativity was even more paramount under these conditions.” (yeah!)

Do caralho, hein?!

My favorite aspect of these ‘freestyle’ competitions was the specific type of human creativity that led to victory. Instead of pure chess genius, it was something much closer to business process design brilliance. The overall winner was a team that contained neither the best human players nor the biggest and fastest computers. Instead, it consisted of “a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and “coaching” their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants.”

Kasparov was surprised at this outcome and I have to confess that I was as well, despite my deep conviction that a well-designed process is a potent weapon. I didn’t think that smart process design — in this case, a process for determining the “best” chess move — could overcome both cognitive and computational deficits. But it did, even in this domain where brains and calculations would appear to be the only things that matter. As Kasparov writes of this amazing result, “Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.” I think that’s my new motto.

You don’t have to have the pattern-recognition capabilities of a grandmaster to see that a dominant approach to achieving good results is becoming visible. This approach consists of teamwork among humans and computers, with each playing to its comparative strength. The good news for this team is that each partner is strong precisely where the other is weak, a happy situation known as Moravec’s paradox .

It’s fiendishly hard to give computers intuition, or to make people consistent and error-free. Luckily, we don’t have do. Environments as different as chess and medicine are showing us that the right approach is to let people exercise their intuition and creativity, supported and double-checked by their computer assistants as part of a well-designed process. This approach yields better outcomes than a purely automated one (which, in turn, does better than a purely human one , in chess and many other domains).