Three Mile Island Lessons for COVID-19: FEMA and Me

Forty-one years ago this summer I was a young investigator working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a big federal investigation chaired by Dartmouth Professor John Kemeny, who is best known as the father of the BASIC programming language. I learned a lot that summer and fall not only about nuclear accidents but about how governments and industries respond to crises. Some of those lessons apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is also being poorly managed. This may surprise you (that 41-year-old lessons can still apply) but governments, especially, change at a glacial pace.

The two […]

My first two predictions for 2020 — IBM and Trump

For 20+ years I’ve been writing predictions every January and I guess I’m doing another set now. But this time will be different for several reasons. For one, January is almost over, so it will slough over into February. For another, I always start by going back to the year before and grading my previous year’s predictions. I’m the only guy in this business who does that. But this year I am going to bury the score a bit because I need to start with a prediction or two simply because both are immediate and really can’t wait.  So I’ll do the scoring on Monday, but today I have two 2020 predictions to […]

Prediction #5 — Drones become Pizza-to-the-Neighborhood (PTTN)

I’ve already written one prediction about autonomous cars — that they’ll be far later to the market than most pundits and autonomous car inventors are suggesting. Today’s prediction is about a tangentially-related technology — aerial delivery drones. These drones are definitely coming just as fast as regulators will allow them, but I don’t think they’ll be implemented in the way people expect. What we’ll see, I predict, is something I call Pizza-to-the-Neighborhood or PTTN.

Aerial drones are a new type of distribution network operating in a new kind of ether. They don’t travel on roads and neither do they travel in what we conventionally think of as airspace. […]

Bob’s Predictions for 2019 — The Year When Everything Changes… Forever

Now, finally, to my predictions for 2019. This is, I believe, my 22nd and possibly last year of looking ahead, so I want to do something different and potentially bigger. Our old format works fine but I’ve been pondering this and I really think we’re at a sea-change in technology. It’s not just that new tech is coming but we as consumers of that tech are in major transitions of our own. It has as much to do with demographics as technology. So while I’ll be looking ahead all this week, coming up with the usual 10 predictions, I want to make sure we all understand that this isn’t business as usual. This […]

Remembering Paul Allen

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died yesterday at age 65. His cause of death was Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, the same disease that nearly killed him back in 1983. Allen, who was every bit as important to the history of the personal computer as Bill Gates, had found an extra 35 years of life back then thanks to a bone marrow transplant. And from the outside looking-in, I’d say he made great use of those 35 extra years.

Of all the early PC guys, Allen was probably the most reclusive. Following his departure from Microsoft in 1983 I met him only four times. But prior to his illness Allen had been a major factor […]