End of year review, 2013
Another year past! Quite a year it was. I’ve been sadly absent from this blog since the July posting on the copyright reform initiative in Finland, which is yet to really play out, though the signs are that it’ll continue to get the silent treatment. On business side, Metrify went through what most start-ups go through - a direction change and a team split-up, which was good for everybody concerned. Today, we’re helping our customers scale data-driven operations and are involved in a handful of ambitious projects.
I’ve continued to look in amazement what’s happening in manufacturing. A year ago, I mentioned how 3D printing enables custom, one-off design manufacturing, but I failed to note (or notice myself) that something else had also been done already - printed food. Not just printing chocolate pieces, which, after all, is just an extension of how the basically liquid stuff has always been made anyway, but printing beefsteak. Seriously, I’m waiting for the day when I can eat a tuna steak with good conscience, knowing it grew in a can, instead of being an overfished species.
The true surprise of 2013 was the information disclosed by Edward Snowden on the breadth of the surveillance operations by the NSA and its international partners. Not that much of it wasn’t suspected, at least by the more suspicious among us, but that basically the worst fears turned out to be true, and we have not even learned all of it yet. Despite having taken enough interest in secure communications to have written one of the first PGP/MIME email apps in the mid-90s, I had not given the matters a lot of thought for years. So, all of this was somewhat of a wake-up call for me, and I’ve found myself thinking about it quite a lot. I haven’t figured out how to convert that to action though - communications security is a hard field with few real successes to begin with. Doing it against government-class adversaries is a different task entirely.
As far as gadgets go, the year was one without huge milestones, but not without important advances. Smartphones have matured to a point where their improvements don’t provide a lot of amazement (though even the incremental improvements can be nice) and wearable devices are field of geek-out than true usefulness. One exciting piece of news though, one that ties in to the first part about 3D printing: prosthetic limbs designed and manufactured at home. That aside, the big gadgets story is sensors, sensors everywhere - from the capabilities in your phone, to embedded wireless sensors in everything from lamp posts to potted plants, we’re only at the beginning with the sensor rollout and the onslaught of digitized environment that’ll provide. Of course, sensors are also the story in the new games consoles, which I should mention here, despite lacking any enthusiasm for them whatsoever. The only piece of them with any interesting potential is Kinect 2 and PS4 Eye, since they could provide for a really hands-free living room.
What’s ahead for 2014? Well, several of these things are easy to extrapolate from individually, but the combination is tricky. One would hope for a personal privacy field to counteract the surveillance overreach..