Pittsburgh as a Top Tech Town

The current issue of Wired magazine uses "highly scientific methodology as well as algorithms snuck out of NASA and Google" to identify Pittsburgh as one of the "top 10 places [in the U.S.] to get your geek on":
Come for the country's top-ranked computer science school; stay for the robotics startups that Carnegie Mellon alums are founding. If androids aren't your style, try for a gig at Google's new engineering office.


3 Responses to "Pittsburgh as a Top Tech Town"

Anonymous said... 1/08/2007 12:32 PM

While I appreciate the accolades, this is a pretty lame "article".

Anonymous said... 1/09/2007 8:06 AM

In 1984 I published a series about the rise of robotics. At the time, CMU was thought to be the place from which an entire generation of George Jetsons would be creating new Westingthouses and General Electrics. One professor there, I think his name was Ayers, had written an important book called "Robitics: Applications and Social Implications." Robotics conferences were a huge rage. Companies such as U.S. Robotics were taking in seed money.

Well, it's been 22 years and the boom has yet to go off. I have been telling people: Robotics is the industry of the future. That was true 20 years ago, it's true today and it'll be true 20 years from now.

Dennis Roddy

Jefferson Provost said... 1/09/2007 9:06 PM

It has been thus ever in the past, thus it will be ever in the future. -- Dennis Roddy

The problem with your induction, Dennis, is that the underlying technology is changing. The computations needed to do interesting things with robots are very hard. Only now are we beginning to get to the point where we have sufficient power in small enough packages to do things like computer vision in robots. Computers are continuing to get more powerful and as they do, more interesting things will be happening with robots.

Just because proponents of robotics underestimated how long it would take, doesn't mean that they were entirely wrong. In the 60's Herb Simon predicted that a computer would beat a world champion at chess in 10 years. It took until 1997, but it eventually happened.

You are right to advise some caution, however. Robotics will not be Pittsburgh's "new steel." That's not because of any fault of robotics, but rather because Pittsburgh will never have a "new steel." I believe no industry will ever dominate Pittsburgh's economy like steel. On the other hand, to me it feels like it's 1976 and you're telling people not to get their hopes up about computers.

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About Pittsblog

Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

All opinions expressed at Pittsblog 2.0 are those of their respective authors and of no one (and no thing) else, least of all the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsblog 2.0 has a motto: "It's steel good in Pittsburgh." Say it aloud, with a Pittsburgh accent.

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