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andreessen

Marc Andreessen was on Charlie Rose this week, and he dropped this super smart nugget on the tech industry:

The core idea we have, the core theory we have, is that the fundamental output of a technology company is innovation and that's very different than a lot of businesses, right? The fundamental output of a car company is cars. Or the fundamental output of a bank is loans. The fundamental output of a tech company is innovation, so, the value of what you've actually built so far, and are shipping today is a small percentage of the value of what you're going to ship in the future if you're good at innovation. So the challenge tech companies have is they can never rest on their laurels with today's product, they always have to be thinking in terms of the next five years of what comes next and if they're good at running internally and are indeed a machine that produces innovation, they tend to do quite well over time. It's when things go wrong internally and they stop innovating, which happens alot, that the wheels at some point tend to come off.

This quote is great insight to the difference between Silicon Valley and the rest of the world.

The reason Instagram was worth $1 billion without any revenue is because people in the Valley look at the company and think, "the value of what it's going to ship in the future is huge." People outside the Valley see a money-losing photo app and think it's worthless.

As for the other part, it helps to explain why companies like AOL, Yahoo, and Microsoft have gone sideways for years now.

It also explains why Google is working on glasses and self-driving cars. It's trying to produce the next generation of innovation. It might make its money from search, but as Andreessen points out, it's really in the business of innovation.

Watch the full interview >

Disclosure: Marc Andreessen is an investor in Business Insider.

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google x research project

Google has developed a virtual "neural network" that taught itself what a cat looks like by viewing images from YouTube. Developed at Google X, the research and development lab best known for Project Glass and self-driving cars, the neural network is a cluster of 1,000 computers with 16,000 cores between them. Google fed the cluster 200 x 200 pixel thumbnails taken from 10 million randomly selected YouTube videos and had it look for recurring features. Not only was its creation able to detect faces, but also "high-level concepts" such as cat faces and human bodies.

Google's machine was not taught, or given any data on what a face, body, or cat looks like before it started its analysis. Once it had discovered a recurring object, the...

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In the United States, two out of every three searches go through Google, which serves up a total of three billion search queries per day. "Googling" has become so ubiquitous that the company has become a verb in English (and in other languages, too).

Given that most of us use Google several times a day and may also use it to send e-mail, to plan our calendar, and to make phone calls, questions commonly arise about how all of that data is used. Google has said that it needs access to such large amounts of data as a way to “make it useful” and to sell personalized ads against it—and to profit substantially in the process.

However, a March 2012 study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that two-thirds of Americans view a personalized search as a “bad thing,” with 73 percent of those surveyed saying that they were “not OK” with personalized searches on privacy grounds. Another recent poll of California voters recently reached similar results, as “78 percent of voters—including 71 percent of voters age 18-29—said the collection of personal information online is an invasion of privacy.”

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sebastian thrunSebastian Thrun, one of the lead engineers behind Google's fringe Google[x] projects, was at the Wired Business conference in New York today.

On stage he answered a few questions about the Google[x] program at Google, which handles outlandish projects like self-driving cars and its computerized glasses project.

Here are some of the highlights:

What exactly is the new Google[X] project?

Sebastian Thrun: Google[x] in a single sentence is Google co-founder Sergey Brin's ambition to complete moonshot-type projects. (Shooting to the moon and bringing the moon to earth.)

The third project is Google Glasses. We know everyone is attached to their phones. We started saying well, that's kind of nice, but not what I want in my life. How can we think of technology as more liberating — how can we make the technology Jack Dorsey calls, "technology that goes away?" Why can't I just take a picture right on my eye so other people can see through my eyes?

So we came up with this concept of building a super lightweight computer. It's a project so far, not a product. It has a display, it has a camera, I took a picture of Charlie Rose. It has an ear-free component by using a speaker that touches your head for making a phone call. In the physical world, Google Glass is our best shot to achieve that, being hands free.

I looked at the feedback we got when we got to the public, distraction was the number one concern. We want to make a device that's there when you want it and not distract you. In addition to being a camera, we use it for when someone texts me I can read it. When I'm in the situation where I don't want to be distracted, I have the freedom to let go. And then I can go back.

The reason we went public, by the way, was to get feedback from everybody who might be our future customers. What are your concerns? We're looking very systematically into this now.

How do you build a team that will land on the moon every year?

ST: My very first conversation is, rule number one, disobey your manager. A year later my employees come back to me, every single one says, now I understand. This is the age of disruption, there's an amazing number of opportunities now. In the execution of disruption, many large companies have problems doing this.

It's hard to get out of this aura of opinions. You have a whole stack of opinions — manager, SVP, VP. I try to shield my team from opinions, give them a vision that I believe in and that they believe in, and let them do their thing. Then they come back a year later and something amazing emerges. 

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Phillip Burton Federal Building and US Courthouse

The copyright phase of the Oracle vs. Google infringement trial has been winding on for two weeks, but we moved one step closer to resolution today with the attorneys for both sides presenting their closing arguments. Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs made his client's case, referring to the trial as being "mostly about Google's excuses." As evidence of Google's wrongdoing, Jacobs pointed to email exchanges that have surfaced throughout the trial, in which the likes of Eric Schmidt, Andy Rubin, and Tim Lindholm discuss how Google needed to acquire a license from Sun for the use of Java in Android.

Stating that the 37 APIs in question were the "crown jewels" of Java — ones which Google had used to ensure quick developer uptake for Android...

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[In this first article in a new series, college professor and user research Ben Lewis-Evans takes a look at different methods of game user research, offering up a handy guide to different ways you can collect useful information about your game.] This article, and its forthcoming followup, is intended to give a rough idea to developers of several different methods that can be used in games user research. However, many, many books have been written ...

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proejct_glass_350

Google made quite a splash with its Project Glass video earlier this month. While Google’s vision of wearable computing still looks a bit like science fiction today, a new report by Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps argues that “in three years, wearables will matter to every product strategist” and that smart developers should start experimenting with applications for wearables on the “big five” platforms (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook) today.

In Rotman Epps’ vision of wearable computing in the near future, one of these major platforms will have to back the concept for it to go mainstream.

Specifically, she notes that Apple, with its “polished marketing, channel, and brand,” could use its vast developer ecosystem to incubate many of these projects by giving even it’s more low-end products (like the iPod nano) support for more sensors, WiFi and Bluetooth.

Google, says Rotman Epps, could become a major player due to the open nature of its Android platform. Android, after all, is already being uses by basic wearable devices like the Sony SmartWatch and the Wimm One. She also warns, though, that Google’s “diffuse attention and lack of channel” will make it hard for the company to actually turn those ideas into products.

Microsoft, with its operating systems optimized for mobile and its Kinect sensor, as well as Amazon with its vast product catalog and Facebook with its rich social data could also play a major role in making wearable computing mainstream.

Indeed, Forrester’s analysts think wearables will follow a similar path to that of the smartphone market: In the first phase, Apple will create an early app and accessory ecosystem for wearable computing. Google’s open platform, however, will give developers more freedom and broader wearable experimentation. Microsoft, thanks to its recent shift toward open web standards, will then be able to offer something akin to an “anti-platform” platform for a future operating system for wearables that could be even more flexible than Apple’s and Google’s offerings.

In Forrester’s view, then, smart developers and product strategists should start to cultivate partnerships with apparel companies like Nike and Adidas now and those companies should also start to reach out to the developer community and the big five platforms.

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