Money

Taking Stock

Over the last nine months, investors have read their morning papers, stared at CNBC, and ripped open their brokerage statements with similar results. The financial calculus known simply and profoundly as their net worth has done something of a disappearing act. The S&P 500’s early March lows of 666 represented a 57 percent drop from …

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We, robot

A decade ago, the Wall Street Journal gave Pittsburgh the moniker “Roboburgh” when compiling its list of the nation’s 13 hottest high-tech regions. The Steel City is living up to its 21st-century nickname, making new its rich history of engineering complex things. Scores of local robotics start-ups are driving economic growth by building innovative robots …

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Electrifying Knowledge

In 1995, Carnegie Mellon University’s Professor Raj Reddy organized a meeting in Shadyside of the world’s foremost digital thought leaders to discuss the feasibility of electronic libraries. The idea of very large Internet libraries had been gestating in Reddy’s mind for about 15 years, but it was not until then that desktop computers, easy Internet …

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Here’s to you, Mrs. Henderson

Of all of the thousands of students attending classes at the University of Pittsburgh last fall, Elsie Henderson was perhaps the most extraordinary. For starters, she didn’t walk the Oakland campus with an iPod fixed to her ears or consumed in cell phone conversation. She doesn’t own either of those technologies. She doesn’t even own …

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Six CEOs

Enron’s spectacular collapse in 2001, followed by WorldCom’s demise after Bernie Ebbers enjoyed more than $400 million in loans approved by his board of directors, led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX). SOX was intended to change the behavior and accountability of publicly traded companies, CEOs, boards of directors and public …

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The China Syndrome

Annie Wang was 9 when her parents vanished behind the Bamboo Curtain. It was the start of China’s “Cultural Revolution,” a terrible time for anyone in that country with money or status. Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-tung urged citizens to engage in “class struggle” and the overthrow of “capitalist roaders,” encouraging the political persecutions, betrayal, torture, …

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Can Video Games Save the World?

The main entrance to the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center off Second Avenue looks like the inside of a space ship. Neon blue and purple lamps wash the corridor with cool, luminescent hues, like a Death Star antechamber, and trapezoidal wall moldings recall Star Trek interiors. “Blast door” portcullises, complete with tooth-like eaves ready to …

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No cubicles

If any company represents creativity, success and a new paradigm, it’s Google. With an Internet advertising model that’s revolutionizing the industry and racking up money click by click, Google’s methods and its market cap represent a wish list for many companies. Its recent opening of an office in Pittsburgh was an easy decision for the …

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A good lesson

Eleanore Childs may have had as many lives as Joanie Caucus, that trailblazing mom/feminist/late-in-life-lawyer of the “Doonesbury” comic strip — each reincarnation a mirror of the social upheavals of the last half of the last century. As the daughter of Sewickley pediatrician Robert Nix, a beloved figure in that community who, in the 1950s, helped …

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How to Profit from the Coming Singularity

Singularity” is a term that futurists have borrowed from mathematics to describe an event so profound that nothing is the same afterwards. Noah’s flood would be an example. There are four singularities on the horizon, and each offers many opportunities to make money. The internet swallows the world In “Mirror Worlds: Or the Day Software …

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Policy Abroad Needs Work

At first quietly, a group of us has been working to build a world-class institute at the University of Pittsburgh that analyzes emerging security problems and opportunities. Working closely with the U.S. military and key policy experts, the Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies investigates rapidly emerging and evolving threats. One of the issues …

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Google Knows How to Flirt

You hate to wait through an advertisement on television. But you enjoy the look and feel of an ad in your favorite magazine. You hate pop-ups on the Internet. Yet you like finding what you need on Google. Our likes, dislikes and habits in this changing world are becoming critically important to companies that want …

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Backstage with Springsteen

It was Christmas 1978, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were playing at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theater. A mutual friend asked my wife to relay a message to sax player “Big Man” Clarence Clemons and ask him to call her. We had a notion of who Bruce was but had never heard of Clarence. …

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Outsourcing

Outsourcing: it’s a topic where everybody has an opinion, but few have the facts. Yet it’s a most important subject — one that has the potential to alter the fabric of the global economy. It’s particularly important for us to consider in southestern Pennsylvania, at a time when our regional economy is at a crossroads. …

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The Software Business Manual

As the computer and Internet business emerges from the collapse of the bubble, the most successful companies seem to be following a new set of rules. Some rules are old and obvious, but the combination is striking. As a professor at Carnegie Mellon, the world’s premier educator of software engineers, I have been trying to …

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Uncharted Territory

Science and technology march along, year after year, making gradual progress in transforming our lives. Every now and again, however, a public event is staged—the moon landing, a computer playing a chess champion, decoding the human genome—that gives the public the appearance of a breakthrough. Just such an event happened in October, when a group …

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An American Lawyer in China

Twenty years ago I visited China for the first time, and my view of the world changed forever. This took me by surprise. I had studied China at the University of Virginia as part of a lifelong fascination with the country and its people, and I mistakenly thought I “understood” China. I came to realize …

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Front and Center

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be with you (And if you knew how frightened I am of speaking in public you would have pity on this terrorstricken speaker).” The thought expressed above is an all too common phenomenon for many who find themselves standing before an audience of strangers, all …

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Destination of Choice?

Seemingly overnight, China has become the destination of choice for American companies looking to expand their operations overseas. In 2004, China surpassed the United States for the first time as the top worldwide destination for foreign direct investment. For 2005, that should equate to about $58 billion. In the western Pennsylvania region alone, there are …

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