Hi-Tech Bio-Medicine and Nano-robots22 Feb


Hi-Tech Bio-Medicine and Nano-robots

GGC examines two of the perhaps most innovative and revolutionary technologies of the future including bio-medicine and nano robotics and wireless power. Specifically, GCG examined their disruptive nature, implications to business as we know today, and new opportunities.

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Catalyst Conversation: Open Source Hardware and 3D Printing05 Jan


What if anyone could make anything?

The Global Catalyst Group discusses Intelligent Materials, Open-source Hardware and 3D Printing in a conversation led by Justin Tsang and Alex Johnston.

Just as software has moved progressively toward an open-source model, hardware to will increasingly be designed by and accessible to everyone. These emerging technologies have been enabled by the internet and our earlier discussions of crowd sourcing and collaboration. Our discussion will focus on the concepts of open-source hardware and 3D printing and take specific interest in what happens when you mix them with the new internet…

“In a sense, hardware is becoming much more like software, up to the point where you actually fabricate an object,” von Hippel says. “That’s why you’re starting to see open source techniques in hardware. Design is largely going to shift out from manufacturers to the communities.”

“Some day, perhaps, fabricating machines will be able to transform digital specifications (software) into physical objects (hardware), which will no doubt lead to a vibrant trade in specifications, some of which will be paid for, and some of which will be open-source.”

“This is the unacknowledged fact underpinning the open hardware movement: Hardware is already open. Even when inventors try to keep the guts of their gadgets secret, they can’t. So why not actively open those designs and try to profit from the inevitable?”

MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld talks about his Fab Lab — a low-cost lab that lets people build things they need using digital and analog tools. It’s a simple idea with powerful results.

During this conversation, GCG members considered one new product that might be enabled by this confluence of open-source hardware with the internet. For example:

  • 3D printing kiosks in local stores where you can send designs for custom parts, gifts, etc and come pick them up later.  You could also download free or royalty-based designs from online, mix and match them.  You could then imbed intelligent parts in them, as with Bug Labs, or give them wireless access, so you could re-program them from your personal website.
  • New design companies outsource every part of the manufacturing process and specialize in extreme customization of products.
  • Design, customize and print out at a pair of smart shoes (either online for delivery or at the mall) that monitor how far you walk everyday / how many calories you are burning based on your level of exercise and report to your personal health site which can then order food from the grocery store to optimize your calorie intake, and sends you video recipes to your handset based on the orders it places.  The code for this is entirely free and open source, or you pay the developer a small fee to download it.
  • Smart golf clubs which measure your swing pattern 3-dimensionally and report it to your online performance site where it is analyzed and accessed immediately on your blackberry (a rfid tag in the tip of the club and a small transmitter on your belt would track your swing spatially).  Based on your unique performance characteristic a customized golf club is designed for you and printed out at your local golf-shop to fit your swing.

GCG also sought to answer the following:

1. What kinds of products/services will be the first affected?

2. Where will these technologies first find a niche?

3. What industries will be transformed?

4. What kinds of business models will be most successful?

5. Is creative commons licensing sufficient to attract entrepreneurs?

6. How can open-source hardware be profitable?

7. What are the biggest hurdles?

8. Where are the biggest opportunities?

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Catalyst Conversation: A Process for Innovation22 Dec


A Process for Innovation

Ryan Coleman and Donald Ball lead GCG through a roundtable discussion on strategies and tactics to be innovative. The creative process was discussed and how ingenuity can be used to solve problems big and small. The conversation also elaborated how individual and companies use incentives to drive innovation (and at what cost), creating safezones and the impact of the environment on ideation.

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Catalyst Conversation: Technology in Financial Markets17 Dec


Catalyst Conversation: Technology in Financial Markets

The integration of technology into global financial markets has had far reaching implications on all market participants. From the largest institutions to the smallest mom n’ pop “odd-lot” retail investors, every market participant absorbs the hidden costs and benefits derived from market evolution. During this Catalyst Conversation, Stephen McMullin and Srujan Linga lead members through a critical analysis of the the most topical threads in global financial market structure.

The roundtable included discussions around:

  • High Frequency Trading and its Net Impact
  • Market Efficiency and BC&E (Broker/Clearing/Exchange) costs
  • HF Trading as a potential source for systematic risk?
  • Increased competition in the “Exchange Landscape” (i.e. the proliferation of new Alternative Trading Networks, Electronic Communication Networks’, and Exchanges)

The Global Catalyst Group also examined which markets, regions, and asset classes are next, if HF trading helps or hinders market participants, and if market structure held up under the stress of 2008’s market crash.

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Catalyst Conversation: Should China Innovate?17 Dec


Should China Innovate?

Innovation frequently addresses actors for whom innovation is presumptively within reach. How can this business, or that individual, convert to a more innovative outlook and model?

Andrew Verstein and Leah Belsky lead GCG members through a discussion around adding innovation where innovation is supposedly lacking: the rapidly developing Developing World. The conversation focused to answer “how can an economy like China’s become innovative, and should it?”

China is a large and diverse country, which can try many strategies. It is thus an ideal laboratory to consider the various theories we have, or could have, proposed. Moreover, applying these methods to a putatively non-innovative market lets us look for information we may have missed in contemplating solutions for our own country our business.

The roundtable discussion included:

  • The Wages of Innovation and measuring innovation through patent ownership and that China is not an innovation leader. China is losing out on tremendous value by its failure to innovate.
  • In 2006, China outlined its 11th five-year plan. Central to the agenda: innovation. Are there any downsides to such a focus?
  • Does China need to improve protection of IP? After all, many foreign firms seem to resist technology transfers out of fear that their IP will not be preserved. Are these technology transfers important to innovation?
  • Is a wild IP market leading to a very Chinese variety of innovation?
  • The Chinese wish to support entrepreneurship, but can they mimic other models?
  • Obstacles of Innovation.
  • Are culture and incentives matched for innovation?
  • Can innovation thrive when dialog is stifled?

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Article: The Creative Destruction of Intelligence17 Dec


The Creative Destruction of Intelligence: How Television, Mobile, and Internet Technology are Destroying the Discerning Mind

By Brett Staron

With the advent of mobile and internet technology, modern man now commands an unprecedented insight into and control over information. Not only can the average human being create or access the type of information he or she is looking for in an efficient and rapid manor, but the sheer size of accessible information has grown exponentially in the little time spanning from the early 1990s to present day. A veritable tsunami of good information and poor information alike now inundates all channels of communication, ranging from newer technologies such as the internet to revamped technologies such as television and radio broadcasting. These technologies and the information they broker have often created as much demand as they have met existing demand.

The way in which we access information reflects the quality of that information itself: attention grabbing headlines with little or no content fit well into the paradigm of Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia whereas accessing quality information requires a more patient user. However, it is important to separate these two concepts, the information versus the tool, as the two aren’t inextricably linked. Good information can be just as readily accessed in today’s society as poor information, and tools such as Twitter broker both. In a library, you will also find good and poor information – depending on the author you’re reading. The difference lies in the relative affinity bad information has with today’s tools versus the lack of affinity good information has with these same tools.

The following argument therefore rests on the assumption that informational technology catering to short attention spans has a much higher probability of carrying poor or shoddy information than those catering to patient and discerning attention spans. This is because of 1) the lack of discerning gates or checkpoints on that information and 2) the fact that much of this information can be created without a market mechanism guiding it. The argument also rests on the second premise that technologies do not follow a developmental trajectory (i.e. the “best” technology rises to the top), and instead follow a path of “creative destruction”. As a result, the argument proposes that mediums dominating today’s society, by virtue of their enormous following – particularly among younger generations – carry an imminent risk of turning users away from some of the better information and the technology disseminating it to the detriment of society as a whole…

For more information on this study, please contact:


What we are watching: What’s next on the Web?17 Dec

What’s the next new new thing in the Internet space?

At the 2007 EG conference, Futurist Kevin Kelly shares a fun stat: The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. Now, Kelly asks, how can we predict what’s coming in the next 5,000 days?

Economy, Education, Tech

Educational Development in Developing Countries09 Aug

Picture 19

Can introducing a laptop to every child foster educational as well as economic growth in developing nations?

Prepared by Marcus Howard and Srujan Linga

There is no doubt that there is a large education gap between the established and developing nations of the world. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) attempts to begin closing this gap by introducing technology to students in rural nations through the implementation of a $100 laptop to every student. Started by Nicholas Negroponte, director of the Media Laboratory at MIT, their mission is to empower the child of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. Started in 2005, OLPC has provided just over 500,000 laptops to children in Africa, Asia, and parts of Europe.

While ambitious in their mission; their initiative has not been without setbacks. OLPC has been fraught with several financial, political, and structural pitfalls. First, widely marketed $100 price point for the laptop costs them just under $190 to produce. Second, while the technology may be present in many of the OLPC classrooms, there are few teachers trained sufficiently enough to utilize the technologies and/or to help students troubleshoot. Third, many object that OLPC’s approach to education does not take into account the varying cultural and political norms and attempts a “one size fits all” approach to education and technology. Finally, OLPC is facing an increase in competition by companies like Intel due to demands by consumers in developed nations for a cheaper laptop.

Education is quickly growing to be a priority not only in developing nations but in the United States as well. Given the vast availability of free technology that spans every area of education, providing a free laptop to children in developing countries can potentially provide great value to everyone involved. Is OLPC a viable solution to this very pertinent problem?

Video 1:

Video 2:

Finding a solution:

Education in developing countries should be a priority. While OLPC has served as an ambitious foundation to tackling the problem there is still more work to be done.

During our conversation, the Global Catalyst Group discussed:

  • How can we further utilize open source software and technology to enrich the educational experience of students in developing countries?
  • What are some ideas to combat the “One size fits all” approach that serves as one of the major objections to the OLPC model?
  • Is there real “value added” in providing laptops to children in developing nations when the teachers haven’t the training or educational experience to masterfully navigate through the technology?
  • Is technology truly the answer to the growing educational gap between developing and established nations?

Below are some additional resources to help with learning about the project, it’s progress, and some of its setbacks.

The OLPC website:

Keynote by Nicholas Negroponte on OLPC

Media, Tech, World

The 2009 Iranian Elections – The ‘Twitter’ Revolution?09 Aug


The Twitter Revolution

Prepared by Liz Nugent and Don Ball

GCG discusses the recent presidental elections in Iran, focusing in particular on the role new media (twitter, blogs, text messaging, facebook) played in the elections – facilitating the opposition and student movements, increasing the ability of protesters to organize, and allowing candidates to communicate directly with their constituencies. Below are some links that will provide background on the elections.

Results of the election:

Protest coverage

Obama’s reaction to election

Example of twitter accounts that were constantly updated during the protests and chaos that ensued after the elections:

Role of new media:,8599,1905125,00.html

Recent developments

Our Mantra

The Global Catalyst Group seeks to gather persons of unique potential into a community dedicated to thought leadership, shared resources, and mutual improvement. Through deliberate collaboration, collective mentorship and continuous dialogue we believe that we can support and stretch one another with meaningful insight and thoughtful guidance. We encourage our membership and partners to exercise, together, their ambition, creativity, and both their professional and social networks to pursue a greater purpose than oneself. We challenge them to leave a legacy and we support one another towards this end.

Contact Us

We are actively exploring new opportunities to connect and collaborate on projects that add value to our mission. Contact us to start the conversation.