Simon Moves On

Jim Simon at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt

One indulgent use of a personal blog is to drop a nod in the direction of a salutary individual, and I’d like to do so for my departing boss, Jim Simon.

Jim has been the founding Director of the Microsoft Institute since 2004, when Bill Gates and Craig Mundie personally decided to establish a small outfit to use the benefits of Microsoft’s advanced research and development activities against intractable problems for the global public sector. They had been talking with Jim for several years, back when he was a senior executive at the Central Intelligence Agency and after, to understand how to improve government’s adoption of modern technologies.

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Education for Information Security in a Connected World

Much of what I work on involves technologies which address information security and cyber security. So I have to ask, Who is training our next generation of technologists? And are those educators doing enough to focus on the dynamically changing demands of Information Security?

Those fundamental questions took me to Chicago recently, to take part in a roundtable discussion sponsored by DeVry University, “The Demand for Information Security in a Connected World.”

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Bill Gates will pay you to save the world

Fact: You have ten days to apply for a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation, for your innovative idea in global health research.  It’s a surprisingly simple application process, but you’d better get cracking!

Analysis: Last night the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced the 104 individual winners of their Round 1 funding in the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, which “funds research on scientific problems that, if solved, could lead to advances against multiple diseases.”

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Inventing the Software that Invents the Future

Worried about today’s stock market activity? Retreat with me into the security of the bright future that awaits.

Microsoft’s Craig Mundie (pater familias of the Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments), is on a college tour across the nation.  The trip is something of a reprise of jaunts Bill Gates famously made over the years, when he would string together visits to campuses partly to evangelize, partly to recruit, and mostly to get new ideas from bright young (and contrarian) minds.  The Seattle paper today labels these tours as filling the role of Microsoft’s “chief inspiration officer” (“Mundie gives campuses peek at tech’s future”).

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Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments

Channel 10 podcast

Channel 10 podcast

I’m a big fan of the cool site Channel 10 and its podcasts and blogs (“a place for enthusiasts with a passion for technology. Through a world-wide network of contributors, Channel 10 covers the latest news in music, mobility, photography, videography, gaming, and new PC hardware and software”).

So I was chuffed when the ubiquitous Jon Udell interviewed me a week ago for Channel 10 (“Lewis Shepherd discusses the Institute for Advanced Technology in Governments“).

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The “Rush to the Cloud” – Not So Fast…

Had a great time on Wednesday on a panel at the “Defense 2.0″ conference, at the Arlington Ritz-Carlton.  I believe I learned as much from my fellow panelists from Cisco, IBM and so forth – about the importance of information security and assurance – as any conference in recent memory.  The story in Government Computer News (“Defense 2.0 a Work in Progress“) captures the views of most of the speakers. 

I had a gentle and gentlemanly disagreement with the keynote speaker, Mike Nelson.  Mike has a distinguished career, working with Internet-inventor Al Gore while he was VP, and later Director of Internet Technology and Strategy at IBM.  I offered that he was perhaps slightly overly enamored of the “rush to the Cloud” school of thinking.  I’ve written about that school of thought before, and the balance of where computing power is likely to reside in future, given Moore’s Law for the foreseeable future.  The GCN quotes capture my thinking in short form: there’ll be the cloud, along with increasingly powerful computing in local form factors (some desktops, more laptops, handhelds, mobiles, and embedded-computing forms of all sorts).

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Innovation in Robotics: Government Uses?

Fact: Last week’s Automatica 2008, the big international robotics and automation trade-show, had “over 30,000 trade visitors from around 90 countries,” visiting 900 exhibitors’ booths, according to the conference wrap-up

Analysis: When I spoke recently at an IARPA conference in Orlando, and was asked to give a glimpse into Microsoft’s vision of R&D trends, one of the possibly surprising areas I highlighted was robotics.  We’re making a major push in that area, for reasons that might not be intuitive based on an old-fashioned impression of what Microsoft offers in the government realm.  More on the intelligence community’s potential use below.

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