Friends, that’s not a hobbit or an elf standing with IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. That’s IBM visionary futurist Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger. And what he’s been working on is absolutely the most amazing invention I’ve ever seen in my entire life, even bigger than the Segway.
Let me explain. Some of our engineers have been working with the guys at IBM’s nanotech facility in Albany, N.Y. on ways to make iPods smaller. For months now the dudes from IBM Research have been dropping hints about some super duper huge project they’re doing for DARPA. Project X, they call it. Well, last week they finally flew us all in and took off the wraps. This was all under NDA but to to hell with it. This is just so huge that I have to tell the world about it.
Basically, they’ve found a way to shrink people by up to 50% and then restore them. Shown above are Sam and Irving right after Irving underwent a 30% reduction.
Photo at right shows full-size Irving before he put on the Nehru jacket and got into the machine. IBMers say you don’t have to wear the jacket but the procedure works better if you do. It’s all done with microwaves, same as in your microwave oven only operating at a much higher frequency. Or is it much lower? I can’t remember. I wasn’t really paying attention during the lecture. I was just sitting there with my mouth hanging open watching Irving shrink. (Also I was kind of baked because I smoked some weed on the ride out to the lab from the Albany airport. Usually it’s the only way I can get through a visit to IBM.)
Sam says this is going to be huge. Like it could add billions to IBM’s top line over the next 10 years. First adopters will be the military and NASA. But IBM wants to commercialize the technology. Imagine cramming twice as many people onto a plane without having to build a bigger plane. Al Gore is creaming his relaxed-fit jeans talking about how this could help airlines use less fuel and solve the global warming issue. Another potential market: sports teams. Parks like Fenway in Boston that are space constrained now can double their capacity.
Unfortunately, “TinyBlue” (yes that’s what they’re calling it) is still producing some side effects, like darkened skin and the “bleaching” effect on hair and eyebrows, but Sam says the effect wears off in a week or two and they hope to get that down to twenty-four hours or less before the machine comes out of beta. They’re also having some issues with bringing people back to their original size. In some cases the machine has overshot the target. Check out what happened to IBM’s chief financial officer. (Photo at right.) Sam says this too should be worked out soon.
“Steve,” he says, “this is our killer app. This is gonna be huge.” Says Irving: “You know, I didn’t think anything could ever have a more profound effect on the world than Linux. But then Second Life came along. And I thought, well, that’s it. Nothing could top this, right? But you know what? TinyBlue is even more profound.”
Now look, I’ve done my share of mocking IBM in the past. But this time I think they’re right. This is one of the most important transformational technologies of the coming century. People are going to redesign cities around this. It’s that big. Gore and the Democrats are already talking about creating subsidies to companies that use it. Gore believes some hardcore green types will just shrink and stay shrunk, to save the planet. They’ll be able to fit eight people into a Prius. Gore wants to give them tax breaks.
Much love, IBM. You’re generally a bunch of frigtards, but the scientists in your research division are today’s equivalent of Arno Penzias and the guys in the old Bell Labs. There’s a Nobel in this, for sure.