Two Stories for Tuesday

Welcome back from the long 3-day weekend (we hope!). Couple stories worth knowing about today:

The first is a report from The New York Times Dealbook, which broke the news that G.E. is trying to acquire a pair of European 3-D printing technology companies, for $1.4 billion.

The story is interesting two ways -- one, it shows G.E. is doubling down on a technology-driven return to its industrial roots after more than a decade of pushing aggressively into the world of finance. G.E. announced last year that it would sell the majority of GE Capital, its finance arm, and get back to the basics of making stuff.

Whether you think this has more to do with G.E. or the world of finance, is up to you. Maybe they know something, maybe they don’t.

But what G.E. does seem pretty sure of is 3-D printing has only just gotten started. We agree, and think 3-D printing remains the dark horse on an inside track to further disrupt the old economy and economic models.

People have talked about how 3-D printers will revolutionize industry, but we feel 3-D printing is in about the same place mobile advertising was a few years ago -- people kept talking about it being the Next Big Thing every year, but it never quite got there….until suddenly it was everywhere (and a boom in mobile ad blockers was the result).

3-D printing will likely be the same -- it’s still a fringe element in our everyday lives, but in five years we’ll all wonder what we did without it (while wondering what we’re going to do with all these widgets, parts, and industrial tools companies’ buildings, which will sit empty after 3-D printers drive them out of business).

The other news story that caught our eye was the latest development in the ongoing competition to lead and dominate the fledgling Driverless Cars market. Google announced today that its driverless car would sense police lights and sirens and automatically pull over to the side of the road. The Google patent describes a system that detects different light patterns so its autonomous cars won’t mistake other light sources (such as street lights) as sirens.

Not everybody sees this as such a benevolent development, though, and different writers draw differentiating conclusions (the cops will be able to overtake your car; or maybe the car will help you avoid the cops), but nobody wrote a grabbier opening about it than The Inquirer:

“Driverless cars are slowly making their way towards us, not in a creepy way like slowly rolling towards you while you're lying prone in a car park on the ground, but they are heading at you.”

LOL! We hope that doesn’t turn out to be a predictive metaphor for Driverless Cars becoming a disaster. Personally, we like driving, think it’s a kind of freedom. But maybe chilling out while watching a baseball game and doing some work will win us over by 2021.