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PARC's Past & Future, With Bob Metcalfe

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
3/6/2013
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Bob Metcalfe doesn't know every hall and doorway in PARC today, but he makes a great tour guide if you're traveling back in time (figuratively) to the days when Ethernet was first invented. We recently talked with Metcalfe at PARC about those earlier days and, maybe more importantly, about the future of innovation. Watch the video below as we discuss what role a place like PARC has today, and what the old Xerox Palo Alto Research Center could have done differently.

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And here's our shorter video about the 40th anniversary of Ethernet: — Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading
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brookseven
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brookseven,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/7/2013 | 4:16:41 PM
re: PARC's Past & Future, With Bob Metcalfe
Craig,

I see lots of basic research being done....not in communications as that seems to be a solved problem (see Drew Lanza's comment from a few years back). -ŠFor example, SDN to me is just the modern version of AIN. -Š

Go look at Energy or Health and there is LOTS of research. -ŠNow inside a business, that kind of long term thing looks cheaper to buy than it does to invest in (which is what we pay executives to do theoretically - make good investment decisions).

seven
Craig Matsumoto
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Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/7/2013 | 3:36:50 PM
re: PARC's Past & Future, With Bob Metcalfe
-ŠI have to admit, I wonder about that too. I like the idea that there would be people doing foundational basic research working towards goals that could be decades out. But modern business doesn't seem to have a place for that kind of work.
Remus N
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Remus N,
User Rank: Light Beer
3/7/2013 | 12:09:06 AM
re: PARC's Past & Future, With Bob Metcalfe
-ŠWith the risk of falling into the "lamenting Bell Labs" camp, I do think that there is a gap both in funding requirements as well as in time horizon which is not very well covered today by the universities/VCs combination. More specific, VCs prefer technologies which are up to 5 years to money - so fairly mature - while universities need to have advanced enough research programs to get published which for some technologies could mean 10-15 years out or even longer to maturity. In terms of funding, I think there is a gap above the 1 million a year program (a fairly generous university grant) if this needs to be sustained over an extended period - several years (i.e. universities have the time horizon though not the funding level while VCs have the funding though can't afford the time horizon). Best examples of fields affected are those with a combination of relatively long cycles and significant capital requirements - bio/gene therapy related, clean tech (except software) and realistically almost anything hardware.-Š Can some government/private partnerships work on this ?
Craig Matsumoto
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Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/6/2013 | 6:40:36 PM
re: PARC's Past & Future, With Bob Metcalfe
How should basic research get done in the modern world?-Š Metcalfe is saying it needs to spring from universities (or PARC-like facilities) that graduate their ideas, so to speak, into startup companies. That motion into the real world is arguably what PARC was missing.

Certainly that's not the only model. Is it the best one?
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