a disruption with implications as large as the advent of the internet

Posted on April 25, 2012. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

Today I read an article in the LA Times indicating that DARPA has created an unmanned aircraft that can travel at 22x the speed of sound. At the speed it would take 12 minutes to travel from New York to Los Angeles.  The intended application of this aircraft is weapon delivery…and the promise is that you can strike any point on earth from the US in under an hour…but that is not what I am interested in.  I have long been fascinated by advances in transportation and the movement of physical matter.  I like to think about how innovations like the wheel, bicycle, automobile, ship, and plane have changed the way our physical/human system behaves and organizes.  Each time we advance our ability to move physical matter the distribution of people across space takes a new form of optimization.  Huge system level trends like cohabitation, urbanization, migration, etc…are all framed by our ability to move matter.  We have achieved much greater architectural optimization within our communication systems than we have in our physcical systems, largely because there is little challenge in moving information from one place to another. It used to be that to exchange information required 2 nodes in our human system (people) to be in the same physical space.  Advances such as written language, telephony, internet etc removed that constraint and enabled our system to better share learning and become more efficient.

Now, imagine if there were no challenge to moving physical matter from place to place.  If instead of 5 hours, it took 5 minutes to transport a thing or person from New York to Los Angeles.  The implications of that reality are almost impossible for me to wrap my head around.  Geography would become irrelevant.  We keep making the mistake of believing that trends are linear. It currently appears that the online world is consuming physical experience…I think it was Marc Andreesen who recently said that “software is eating the world.” …but if we are able to move physical matter as freely as information, I believe we may see a return to the real world…with instrant physical proximity, we will no longer be required to enjoy a digitized and diluted form of real life.

There’s more. The way we organize ourselves physically would be completely different.  Currently it appears we are moving toward urbanization, but without the requirement of physical collocation in order to exchange goods, I believe we would see an emigration from cities back to less populated areas.  Our output as a system would be unfathomable.  Think about what happened to the speed of change/progress on the internet as we removed latency and achieved global broadband penetration.  Innovation in the movement of physical matter is the equivalent of reducing latency associated with every action and process in the physical world.  Talk about the world becoming flat…holy shit.

This all sounds like sci fi pipe dreams, but they JUST BUILT A PLANE THAT CAN GET FROM NEW YORK TO LOS ANGELES IN 12 MINUTES…so exciting

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14 Responses to “a disruption with implications as large as the advent of the internet”

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Awesome, awesome post – the possibilities truly are mind-blowing.

i’m so worked up…

Real World: The Obama administration has given the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military greater leeway to target suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen with drones, responding to worries a new haven is being established from which to mount attacks on the West.

I’m not super informed in this realm, but I guess the broader question is how do we feel about consumerization of military technology…remember the role that DARPA plaid in the development of the interent…http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET

Are you kiddingly me, don’t dress up the military industrial complex. You can put lipstick on a pig …still a pig. (and I am a ex Lockheed engineer)

yea, i’m not implying that this stuff will be used for good so much as enamored with the fact that humans have figured out how to do this…what has been discovered will find it’s optimal application over time…

That’s the old model:

We need a new MODEL. R&D without Military. It is out $ – after all.

Twelve Key Areas of Importance to Future Military Needs
Applied research focuses on those technologies in the 12 key areas, as reflected in the Defense Technology Area Plans (DTAPs) that have the highest relative importance to future military needs. The following areas are described in 12 Technology Areas Plans (TAPs):
Air Platforms
Battlespace Environments

Space Platforms
Ground and Sea Vehicles Human Systems
Biomedical Chemical/Biological Defense

Materials/Processes Weapons
Sensors and Electronics Information Systems Technology

Nuclear Technology

How do you add value?

hahahahhahaha. this made me laugh out loud alone in my apartment…now i feel weird…and sad

Awesome. But I bet prices for that kind of travel would be really expensive for a long time while it was available to the public. Even cross-Atlantic flights can now cost over $1,000, which many people can’t afford. Once the travel you described becomes commoditized, great change will take place.

I see your point about geography mattering less if you can tube yourself the country within the hour, but wouldn’t that still leave certain cosmopolitan centers like New York and London as destinations (albeit more accessible ones)? The technology is awesome, no doubt, but the advent of trains and planes only made urban areas stronger. Cars weakened them, of course, but that was a form of individualized, rather than mass transportation. We’ve got to be pretty far off from individualized, mass-produced super-sonic aircraft.

As a resident of Australia these advances are very exciting and can’t happen soon enough. As a nation of patient weary travellers you’ll get customers here but we can’t populate ourselves fast enough to offer any critical mass.
Lucky we have hot women and cold beer to relieve tourists after their long haul.

As someone who makes and sells the coolest sushi maker in the world and needs to ship it quick and cheap I’m beside myself with the thought of a delivering worldwide within the hour of it’s free!… but I like better the idea of you 3D printing your own Rice Cube in your basement. This should kill half of China’s factories overnight. That’s how to fix the US$ BTW.

I wonder if Ultrasonic travel will make it before Virtual Reality makes a trip to London like walking through a door and into that Avatar realistic boardroom meeting, family gathering or live sporting event. Cheaper, cooler and safer than hitting a flock of pelicans at warp speed.

What is it we need to move quickly and why, what’s the rush… we’re living longer we have more time… if we live forever we can take as long as we want…. might be a better investment. Then we can get off this rock and check out some really cool planets….then we can really go fast and cheap… lock into a magnetic field and off you go.

What is really needed is a giant leap in human ‘beingness’. To go slower we can get there faster. Incremental change is not revolutionary, going faster is not a revolution, traveling without moving is.

But I must admit I’d like to experience 0 to 60 in a blink. Maglev is on the money.

Don’t forget to buy your ricecube at ricecube.us or Amazon!.

If you want to invest in me and my company, please contact me. ross(at)ricecube(dot)net
I’ll be the one 3D printing a new world from a factory I 3D printed in space. Cool!

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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