Archive for August, 2009

We all know that userid’s and passwords are not good enough anymore.

That’s why more and more companies move to two-factor authentication, using those little contact-less “calculators” that generate one-time password, or contact-ful solutions like smartcards, USB-tokens, etc or other concepts such as OpenID or Microsoft’s CardSpace (i still prefer the old name “InfoCard”).

Only a couple of days ago there was a whitepaper on Open Government published by the OpenID Foundation and The Information Card Foundation.

In one of my previous life, i was involved in the Belgian Electronic Identity (eID) project, that uses a smartcard containing 2 certificates issued and certified by the Belgian government. One for signing and one for authentication.


For a latest on Belgian eiD have a look at:http://welcome-to-e-belgium.be/.


The Belgian eID has now been rolled out to roughly 8 million citizens over a period of about 5 years.

But, the card requires a card-reader and a driver.

But what about mobile ? Yesterday, i shared the post about teenagers online behavior. 99% have a mobile. Also, there are roughly 4 times more mobiles in the world than bank-accounts !

And yes, i have seen those card reader “sliders” for some PDA’s. Then you have a slick PDA, and now you need a slider that’s twice the size of your PDA.

There must be a better way !

What about one of the contesters of TechCrunch Japan Tokyo Camp ?

prev05 mobile_vein_universal_robot

Universal Robot’s (JP) compact mobile vein authentication software (40KB core module) can be installed on cell phones, for example, and uses the camera to scan your wrist vein for identification. The technology seems to have many advantages: It works fast (I tried it myself), it’s completely software-based, compatible to a variety of CPUs and operating systems, usable for persons doing hard manual labor (who can’t use fingerprints), and most importantly extremely accurate (the company speaks of a false accept ratio of 0.001% and of a false reject ratio of less than 0.1%). The award-winning software works even with cameras with a 1MP sensor or lower.

Some good identity blogs are Kim Cameron’s www.identityblog.com and Dave Birche’s Digital Identity Forum. To get a broader perspective on identity based on information shadows, see also my recent post on MIT Personas Project.

Digital Identity will become the cornerstone of our online experiences. That’s why identity should be one of the key research areas of our Think Tank on Long Term Future. We have the experience in Belgium of having rolled out the first generation, let’s now also be leaders in defining and rolling out the next generation.

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From the Andy Kessler blog of 20 July 2009 with my choice of extracts and highlights…

The 70s were a smog-filled haze. Upward mobility was a pipedream. Stock markets stagnated and all the moon-walking Space Age dreams of the 60s were shattered with layoffs and plant closings and Rust Belts and urban unrest.

You were told to do well in school and maybe you could get an entry level job at a big company and wear a white short-sleeved shirt and work your way up over twenty or so years, so you could buy that little house in the suburbs and squeeze out 2.3 kids and afford a station wagon and … well, that’s the way it is.

Someone else has all the money and you don’t.

That’s the way it is.

Unknown forces control your life.

That’s the way it is.

Governments are corrupt.

That’s the way it is.

Society is divided into classes, and you’re stuck in yours.

That’s the way it is.

Instead, what it took was a few little microchips (Ted Hoff at Intel), and a couple of funky pieces of code (Bill Gates at Microsoft) and a few smart people (Steve Jobs at Apple and Larry Ellison at Oracle and thousands of others), who weren’t content working for The Man. Each of them dislodged "the way it is" and got a few people asking "why is it this way?" and declaring "think different" and "eat my dust," and


the status quo crumbled.

Hoff1Bill_gates_011  Jobs_and_wozniak_1975-7564451 Larry_Ellison

You could create your own future. Power shifted out of the hands of conglomerates like Gulf & Western and Engulf and Devour and away from centralized bureaucrats running faceless government operations. Instead, power ended up in your hands, my hands, all of our hands. To do what we wanted.

To change the world, for the better, increase the size of the pie, bring the rest of the world onto our wealth grid. And not by building huts in Costa Rica but by taking down those obstructing progress, those leeching off the rest of us, holding us back, milking the present for their own benefit rather than standing aside and letting wealth-creating innovation increase everyone’s living standard.

Those "that’s the way it is" types needed to move over.

But they didn’t move on their own, so we either had to wait for them to die or just destroy them. Seek and Destroy. Music companies. Travel agents. Insurance brokers. And we’re not done–the hard work has just started.

It took me a long time, well into my life, to get Cronkite’s words out of my head and realize that not only is anything possible (thank you Kevin Garnett), but that I was the one that had to make it happen. There were no gifts, no trailblazers to follow.

We all have to invent the future

by destroying the past.

Sadly, the old mentality is back.

Citibank is too big to fail.

That’s the way it is.

The government needs to bail out the automakers.

That’s the way it is.

Taxes are going up.

That’s the way it is.

Carbon dioxide will boil the oceans so we need to live in cities and walk to work.

That’s the way it is.

Elites like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman and Al Gore will tell you what you’ll be paid, how much health care you’ll get, how much risk you can take, what kind of car you can drive, how much water you can use to flush your toilet, because …

That’s The Way It Is.


It does NOT have to be that way.


Inspire people to dream,

and to realize their dreams.

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Not that recent anymore: Morgan Stanley Research Europe published mid July 2009 a report on Media & Internet “How Teenagers Consume Media”.


What’s cool is they asked a 15 year old summer work intern, Matthew Robson, to describe how he and his friends consume media.

There is a lot to do about this report, as Twitter co-founder Stone does not care that teens are NOT interested in Twitter.


Also the New-York Times jumped on the bandwagon and said:

As the Web grows up, so do its users, and for many analysts, Twitter’s success represents a new model for Internet success. The notion that children are essential to a new technology’s success has proved to be largely a myth.

Adults have driven the growth of many perennially popular Web services. YouTube attracted young adults and then senior citizens before teenagers piled on. Blogger’s early user base was adults and LinkedIn has built a successful social network with professionals as its target.

That’s interesting, especially in the context of the Think Tank for Long Term Future we are putting together – starting up later this year from Flanders: in that Think Tank we want to include upfront young people between 15-25 years old today, who will be our future leaders in 20 years from now (2030 timeframe).

So what is all the fuss about in the Morgan Stanley report  ? I took the pain to download the report and read it myself to have an unbiased opinion and share it with you.

I found the report via the site of the Financial Times. Download here.

First, it is important to understand that the report does not have any representation or statistical accuracy, as it is just the opinion of one 15 year old. It is also very UK centric referring to BBC services and Virgin Media as provider.

The paragraph where all the fuss is about is the following:

Most teenagers are heavily active on a combination of social networking sites. Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered and visiting >4 times a week. Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.

No wonder that Stone does not care very much. A lot to do about nothing.

The report contained however some other interesting elements. I am just picking a couple that surprised myself. I don’t have a 15 year old at home. My daughter is 3 1/2, so i guess all this is coming my way big time :-). Also, when reading those statements, i feel 15 again as sharing the same feelings. But for my age you have to invert the digits :-/

My personal top-10:

  1. Fast.FM: can choose the songs they want instead of listening to what the radio presenter/DJ chooses
  2. Online TV allows them to watch shows when they want
  3. Don’t read newspapers
  4. Teenagers never use real directories (hard copy catalogues such as yellow pages).
  5. Most teenagers enjoy and support viral marketing, as often it creates humorous and interesting content.
  6. Teenagers see adverts on websites (pop ups, banner ads) as extremely annoying and pointless, as they have never paid any attention to them and they are portrayed in such a negative light that no one follows them.
  7. Music: They are very reluctant to pay for it (most never having bought
    a CD) and a large majority (8/10) downloading it illegally from file sharing sites.
  8. 99% of teenagers have a mobile phone and most are quite capable phones
  9. Nearly all teenagers’ computers have Microsoft office installed, as it
    allows them to do school work at home. Most (9/10) computers owned by teenagers are PCs, because they are much cheaper than Macs and school computers run Windows, so if a Mac is used at home compatibility issues arise.
  10. Games Consoles: Close to 1/3 of teenagers have a new (<2 ½ years old) games console, 50% having a Wii, 40% with an Xbox 360 and 10% with a PS3.

The summary of the report says it all:

What is Hot?

•Anything with a touch screen is desirable.
•Mobile phones with large capacities for music.
•Portable devices that can connect to the internet (iPhones)
•Really big tellies

What Is Not?

•Anything with wires
•Phones with black and white screens
•Clunky ‘brick’ phones
•Devices with less than ten-hour battery life


I really would be interested to find recent and statistically relevant sources of information on 15-25 years old internet behavior, and more importantly on the typical value kit of teenagers, if anything as such exists. Or are we now talking about Generation-M ?

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Sometimes you hit a site and you’re blown away. Here is one like that:


It’s like finding your home.

This thing exists for 10 years now.

And nobody hinted me to hit. Never heard about it. It feels like having missed some cultural and existential dimension in my life.


I feel so inspired by this. It also brings me very close to the purpose of this bog. See very first blog entry on

“Inspire others to dream”.

Or the “elevator rap”


There is a new conversation !

Or some of the 95 themes, just some examples here:

2) Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

14) Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

29) Elvis said it best: "We can’t go on together with suspicious minds."

41) Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.

50) Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

78) You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

84) We know some people from your company. They’re pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you’re hiding? Can they come out and play?

Who are those pretty cool people online that want to come out and play ?

90) Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than most trade shows, more entertaining than any TV sitcom, and certainly more true-to-life than the corporate web sites we’ve been seeing.

95) We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

Damn. And this is 10 years old. And i thought being quite up-to-date.

Who can help me getting up to speed on this interesting movement ?

Yes. Movement.

That is what this is.

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Really great post by Jamais Caisco on FastCompany blog.

Very much in line with my last posts on massive manias, booms and busts. I have not added much here: just mixing some different sources. But some folks told me i am not that bad in mashing-up stuff 😉

Think you can’t be replaced by a machine? Think again.

Definitely read this article in more depth. Key passage in ‘Think Again”:

Structural Shifts

The issue of a future in which there are large parts of the economy that are underemployed, unemployed, or unemployable is a serious issue. And the data already suggests this:

(source) Notice how after the last recession in 2001 the number shifted upwards. The boom year of 2006 have an additional 5% long-term unemployed than the boom years of 1998. If you go back even further in that graph, to the 1960s, you see an even larger structural shifts upwards. Here’s University of Chicago Economist Kevin Murphy thinking through this issue.

Robots are becoming more dextrous, able to do a growing number of tasks requiring precision and strength, and computer systems are becoming smarter, able to tackle jobs needing pattern-matching and creative skills.

Humans are still cheaper, for now, but this puts downward pressure on wages–and the old rule that new technology opens up entirely new fields of human labor won’t hold true forever. Smarter, more capable machines will snap up those jobs, too.

Robonomics: If robots and digital systems can do everything, let them–but let human society skim value from the result. This becomes a technologically-driven version of the Basic Income Guarantee model, where citizens are given a basic above-poverty income guarantee and are free to explore education, entrepreneurship, or even a life of indolence. Or they can get one of the remaining human jobs, jobs that may pay much more than they do now in order to attract people who otherwise wouldn’t want the work.

Picture Credits:
Money, courtesy Jamais Cascio, Creative-Commons Licensed

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Cross-posted from:


Posting by my boss Kosta Peric:

I’m just walking out of the Innovation team corner here at SWIFT.

Only one topic on everybody’s mind – Innotribe@Sibos – and the atmosphere is the same as just before a big race at an athletic event: I guess the best description is "electric"…

The event is – I’ll be candid – way bigger than what we thought some 3-4 months ago. Just look at the final agenda Peter has published a few days ago: business and technology, information sessions and interactive labs, debates and meetings. Incredible.

So the stage is set (or almost – as usual, just a couple of small things to be ironed out )

The key however is YOU – member of the financial community, SWIFT customer, partner, journalist – and how you can participate to this event. For you to start feeling comfortable, I thought I’d introduce the team who has put this together and who you will be able to meet and work with at Innotribe.

First of all, we have the Innotribe Leaders. There are 6 of them, two per theme:

– for the Cloud theme – Nick Davies (Lombard Risk Management) and Peter Hinssen (Across, London Business School).
– for the Mashup theme – Casper van Amelsvoort (Rabobank) and Mary Knox (Gartner)
– for the Crowd theme – Chris Skinner (Financial Services Club) and Tim Collins (Wells Fargo)

What is their role?

They are knowledgeable on the subject, they have experience of innovation management, they are recognised voices in their communities. They will be the leaders of the Innotribe Labs – the interactive workshops where you will be able to work with your fellow delegates to produce and/or refine new ideas. 

Prior to Sibos, our Innotribe Leaders are animating innotribe.com, the innovation forum where ideas are already brewing and getting polished for discussion at Sibos. Look at the Innotribe Leaders as your coaches as you work on new ideas.

Second, our facilitator. Animating interactive workshops at big events like SIbos in such a way that people feel confortable and engaged – in other words where people have fun while working – is not to be taken lightly. We have asked Philippe Coulomb to help us with this. He works for Matter Solutions, and is part of the Value Web – a number of professionals in interactive workshop facilitation.

Third, our reporter – blogging, twittering and spreading news about Innotribe and what is happing will be the job of Jeroen Derynck, from a company called Thinking Ape (I’ll leave to him to tell the crowd the story about red monkeys ).

Finally, the SWIFT team:
Mariela Atanassova – she is the master of the Innotribe floor, the place (in the exhibition area) where a number of Innotribe activities will happen.
Peter Vander Auwera – he is in charge of the Innotribe agenda and he is also going to be working in the Cloud Lab.
Matteo Rizzi – the engine behind collaborative innovation, he will  also (of course) participate to the Crowd Lab.
Kosta Peric – I’ll be your host at Innotribe@Sibos, and will also participate in the Mashup Lab.

Feel free to contact any of us, on innotribe.com or elsewhere – we want you to be fully informed and hope to see you at Innotribe@Sibos!
One last request – please let us know which Lab you would be interested in joining – head over to the event area (here) and click on the appropriate event (the "I’m Going"  button). Thanks in advance – this information will also be useful for us to plan the number of lunches to be served in the Innotribe area.

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SOA stands for Service Oriented Architecture. Services can be assembled together to form news (composed) services. Most of the time this terminology is used in the back-end. The same way, but then more on the user interface side (the front-end), we talk about mash-ups, which is in essence a service oriented componentization of the user-interface, where one can combine (mash-up) different information sources into new user experiences.

In interesting article in the breakthrough section of Forbes online makes a similar “SOA” like metaphor for the human brains.


Michael Anderson talks about the “Brain Economy” and how Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) lets us delve deeper into the workings of the cortex.

Psychology generally approaches the study of the mind by starting with behavior, and trying to infer the hidden mechanisms that produce it.

Neuroscience, in contrast, begins by examining the smallest, deepest parts of the mechanism–genes and neurons–and tries to determine which behaviors these help produce.

DTI allows you to see where nerve fibers lead and to map the fiber bundles wiring together various parts of the cortex. Such a map is called a



The brain has just such an economy, where the raw materials of perception are gathered, processed, transformed and distributed in accordance with the dictates of a complex network of business and consumer relations. The brain’s transportation and distribution network is the connectome. Combining information on activity and information about the topographic features of this network gives us our most powerful tool yet to pinpoint what this mental economy produces and how it does it.

Compared to IT SOA, the connectome is like the information “bus”, containing connectors and adaptors to the different underlying components of brain functions. The semantic backbone of such connectomes makes it possible to make sense out of structured and non-structured information. By combining these information, we create “mask-ups” and new data patterns.

The human mind is great at pattern recognition, and relatively poor when it comes to pure processing power (at least compared to what your average PC/Mac can do, and certainly to what your average PC/Mac will be able to do in 20 years from now).

With the emergence of powerful semantic tagging engines and pattern recognition software,

we are entering a new era of the

Global Brain


What does all this mean for the sciences of the mind? It likely means that the brain isn’t organized quite the way we once thought, with each area dedicated to specialized cognitive domains like vision, language and decision-making.

Rather, just as in a real economy, the output of each factory is used in distinctive ways that depend on who the business partners or consumers are. In the brain, too, every local product is put to many uses, and so patterns of cooperation between "producers" and "consumers" govern cognitive outcomes. Our intelligence is largely powered by borrowing and re-organizing our existing resources to deal with ever-changing situations.

In a service oriented marketplace, the “producers” are called the “service providers” and the “consumers” are called the “service consumers”.

This is a lot of similarities to be a co-incidence. In this new hype of semantic web, we are seeing this a lot of modeling techniques and conventions that we’ve seen 25 years ago when people started talking seriously about relational databases and object oriented programming.

It looks like this time it’s going to be made real. In my opinion because we now have true distributed architectures and clouds, because we have now this massive computing, search and semantic power from Google, AWS, Microsoft, Apple, etc.

A Global Mind coming true. Such a big trend that most of use just don’t see the trend.

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Remarkable video from Peter Thiel speaking at the Singularity Summit two years ago about the need for Singularity in todays Financial Markets.

Peter Andreas Thiel (born 1967) is an American entrepreneur, hedge fund manager, libertarian and venture capitalist. With Max Levchin, Thiel co-founded PayPal and was its CEO. He currently serves as president of Clarium Capital.

Thiel has made early-stage investments in several startups, including Slide, LinkedIn, Friendster, Geni.com, Yammer, Yelp, Powerset, Vator, Palantir Technologies, Joyent and IronPort.

Btw, we already mentioned Palantir Technologies in this earlier blog post. Also those folks are ex-PayPal.

“As you can’t predict, you have to bet” says Thiel.

And “The alternative to the singularity is the apocalypse”. See also my previous post on the need for a singleton if we want to avoid humans to be overruled by Artificial Intelligence

We will (are) witness massive manias, booms and busts

on a scale unprecedented.

But that’s not normal for markets that are well connected. Markets that are well connected (such as the financial markets) have more information circulating on their networks. Normally, when more and more information is floating around in a market, that market gets smoothened out and gets more efficient. Stocks would evolve at a smooth 6-7% per year, and most volatility would go out of the market.

Well, unless you have been living on another planet, the contrary is true. And worse,

the frequency ànd amplitude of the booms and busts gets bigger.

There was the Japanese crash end 80ies, the emerging markets mid 90ies, the intro of the financial derivatives that scaled to a 1 trillion hype industry, in 98 Russian market blew up, the March 2000 Internet bubble, the 2008 bust of Lehman’s and the big crisis we are in now. Peter Thiel explains how in March 2009 was the last month of insanity before the bust.

Dillusion and insanity were at their peak.

What i really like is when he says: “at the peak of the boom, you can see furthest”.

It reminds me of another quote – can’t find right away from who – that when innovating you better start with the future in mind, rather than starting from the now. The latter approach usually leads to small incremental adjacencies, whereas the first approach at least gives you a chance of driving something disruptive.

All big breakthroughs were disruptive. None of them were predictable by extrapolating the past of the now. See also Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan book.

Btw, in the last Wired (Aug 2009), you can read that speaking of the Black Swan is really “tired”. That’s the stage before “expired”. Old-fashioned.

Isn’t this about big trends ? Like that all sorts of businesses will  not work in the enterprise 2.0 economy. That running a more authentic business becomes mandatory. See book industry, see newspapers, etc.

However, the biggest trend –says Thiel in 2007 -  is the trend from old to new media. So big a trend you don’t even see it.

That was at the Singularity Summit in 2007 two years ago. Next summit is in October 2009. Have  a look at the line-up of speakers. Very curious what those great thinkers will spot as trends you don’t even see.

What are the biggest manias, busts and booms to come ?

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Found a really interesting post today on Accelerating Future blog of Michael Anissimov.

He refers to the technology optimism of Kevin Kelly (KK). If you’re not familiar with KK, you should and definitely to his blog.

Kevin Kelly’s Panglossian optimism is exactly the type criticized in Nick Bostrom’s paper “The Future of Human Evolution”. The PDF version of this paper can be found here.

I read the paper and was blown away by some strong starting points, assumptions, statements and conclusions.

Some teasing extracts to further encourage you to download the paper and – more importantly – read and consume it.

The past few hundred years have seen enormous improvements in human life‐span, labor productivity, scientific knowledge, and social and political organization, which have enabled billions of people to enjoy unprecedented opportunities for enjoyment and personal development. On a historical as well as on a geological timescale, the big picture shows an overarching trend towards increasing levels of complexity, knowledge, consciousness, and coordinated goal‐directed organization, a trend which, not to put too fine a point on it, we may label


… this past record of success gives us good grounds for thinking that evolution (whether biological, memetic, or technological) will continue to lead in desirable directions. This view, however, can be criticized on at least two grounds.

First, because we have no reason to think that all this past progress was in any sense inevitable‒‐much of it may, for aught we know, have been due to luck.

And second, because even if the past progress were to some extent inevitable, there is no guarantee that the melioristic trend will continue into the indefinite future.

then the only way we could avoid long‐term existential disaster is by

taking control of our

own evolution.

Doing this, I shall further argue, would require the development of a “singleton,” a world order in which at the highest level of organization there is only one independent decision‐making power (which may be, but need not be, a world government).

Second, new methods of reliably communicating information about oneself might be available to technologically mature creatures, methods that do not rely on flamboyant display. Even today, professional lenders tend to rely more on ownership certificates, bank statements, and the like, than on costly displays such as designer suits and Rolex watches. In the future, it might be possible to employ auditing firms that can

verify through direct inspection that a client possesses a claimed attribute.

Signaling one’s qualities by such auditing may be much more efficient than signaling via flamboyant display. Such a professionally mediated signal would still be costly to fake (this is of course the essential feature that makes the signal reliable), but the signal could be much cheaper to transmit than a flamboyantly communicated one when it is


… not all possible costly or “flamboyant” displays are ones which we should regard as intrinsically valuable…

Just as current human beings benefit from other species, which pose no serious threat to the human species, so too may technologically more advanced agents benefit from the existence of an ecology of non‐eudaemonic agents

Moreover, by contrast to current human political competition, where alliances shift over time, it might be possible for more advanced life forms verifiably to commit themselves permanently to a particular alliance (perhaps using

mind‐scanning techniques


technologies for controlling motivation

All this makes me think about Kosta Peric’s posting on www.innotribe.com on developing a vision for 2020. Initial posting and debate can be found here.

Back from the future – tell your story

Consider the following "thought experiment" – imagine yourself in the future (let’s say somewhere in the 2020’s) and describe how the world looks like – and also how we got there. Something like this:


Some predictions are off and some are … quite close and still unfolding. In fact as we speak there are examples of newspapers attacking google or the internet in general.

(There is another movie applying the same trick for the financial industry known as "amazonbay"  but unfortunately all the links to it on the web are all off)

As a matter of fact that video is here:


I find this type of thinking very useful and creative – you can drop all constraints and just let the imagination loose!
Any candidates for visionary story telling?

If you look at the stories posted, they are just lacking a bit of imagination on what’s going to happen by 2020 or 2030. Most of the the things posted there are already possible today !

I have a couple of days off and will try to write some sort of trailer on  what i believe is going to happen based on the singularity principles of Ray Kurzweil, and other great thinkers like Kevin Kelly and Nick Bostrom.

Stay tuned for some amateur SiFi.

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Check this out. With only 3 finger, it can:

  1. Throw: Kim Clijsters has a new sparring partner !
  2. Dribble
  3. Pen spinning
  4. Knotting a rope
  5. Taking a rice-grain with a pincet
  6. Regrasping.

Amazing !

And all this with tactile control in milliseconds. Imagine 2 hands of 5 fingers, or 10 hands of 7 fingers for the matter.

From Japanese Ishikawa Komuro Lab. More info here.

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