An Opportunity for Wall Street In China's Surveillance Boom - China continues to install a grid of cameras and face recognition software and function as Internet super nanny. This technology can be used to fight traditional crime (muggers, Internet kiddie porn or fraud). It can also be used to repress dissent, free speech and political opposition. So what's new? Chinese security official Li Runsen made it obvious that he's getting rich from the surveillance by putting himself on the board of a private surveillance technology supplier incorporated in the US. California Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos is sputtering publicly about the fact that US hedge funds and investment banks are funding China's police state through investment in the the suppliers. The financiers point to surveillance cameras in NYC and say what's the problem. The problem is that NYC is not a repressive one party state (well at least we have a meaningful primary once in a while) that crushes democracy with tanks when the occasion arises. Supplying the high-tech police state is certainly a lucrative business. Returns must be great when the party officials involved in the suppliers are also guiding the purchases. Beware nonetheless, US financiers, it's only a matter of time before this technology is used to make sure that everyone who shows up for the next Tiananmen Square (wherever it may be, even if it is a virtual rally) and everyone who knows anyone who shows up for the next Tiananmen Square will be hunted down and reeducated. Then you, Barry Kitt of Pinnacle and you, Kenneth Griffin of Citadel, and you Jeff Feinberg of JLF can take pride in your role, and if you would prefer to forget about it, then I suspect Congressman Lantos and many others will be kind enough to remind you.
Low Technologies High Aims - MIT hosts the International Development Design Summit, the engineering and design equivalent (or perhaps much needed partner would be a better view) to the red hot field of microcapitalism. The goal -find affordable, available solutions for real needs of less developed areas, the backpack that makes it easier to carry water, the bicycle powered grain mill, the expandable drip irrigation system. The Summit is a four week workshop (including the welding seminar pictured above) that makes real progress on specific projects, not just a meet, greet, inspire and scatter. Let's add a fifth week next time, invite hedge funds in to view the projects as potential investments, maybe come up with a home for some money that doesn't help to make a powerful police state impregnable.