COFES 2011 – Day 2

Day 2 of COFES 2011 started out with a keynote speech by John Gage, the 21st employee of Sun Microsytems.

His presentation was a bit high level for me. However, the real world examples that he used to make his points were rather interesting. One of the key takeaways for me was when he said, “Deep innovation is happening in China. For example, they have a commitment to redo their power grid. Some of our [US] policies are not at the level of the 60’s which yielded our achievements back then“. Here is one of the many interesting slides of his presentation.

Another highlight of COFES is a session called Maeutic Parataxis in which a few people come on stage and present their ideas in short 5 minute presentations. There were a couple of presentations that peaked my interest. One was about eliminating the napkin sketch completely when conceptualizing a design and creating the model directly in 3D but by not changing the workflow and thought process a great deal. Take a look a this video.

Another one was about using bacteria to store data. No, I’m serious. The idea here is use DNA as a data structure to store data. So if we could convert our binary data to DNA and extract it back to binary we could start using bacteria instead of hard drives. Apparently one gram of bacteria could store some 650 terrabybtes of data. Here is how you get from binary to DNA.

Here is what the encoding system looks like.

And here is how you get the binary data back from DNA.

Now before you start wondering whether these guys have gone off their meds you should know that they actually have it working to some extent. Here are the present and future applications for this technology.

One of the presentations was from Microsoft about the wonders of cloud computing. Ironically, the presenter could not demo his cloud computing application because because the WiFi connection in the conference room took a dump. I have seen this kind of a thing quite a few times and I just don’t get why people cannot do the most common sense thing and come with their own MiFi device to do their cloud demos.