Genetically modified seeds can give higher farm yield but they come at a high price because the real cost of the seeds comes from the sustained dependency of the farmer on the seed company. In fact, for the control it gets on the farmers, the seed company could even give the seeds for free.
So the business strategy is very similar to how the printer companies like HP can actually afford to give the printers free, because the actual money comes from the printer cartridge sale.
The main difference is that seeds are much more important for a country’s economy, especially for a country like India with a large base of farmers who depend completely on agricultural income. It is also believed that most domestic seed companies in India are controlled or influenced by the multinational seed company.
A company like Monsanto is just doing its business. They have made investments in R&D and want profits like any other business. The solution lies in having more educated farmers who can make informed decisions about when to use Genetically Engineered/Modified Seeds and when to stick to organic seeds.
“This new research is tremendously exciting as firstly the biological brain controls its own moving robot body, and secondly it will enable us to investigate how the brain learns and memorises its experiences. This research will move our understanding forward of how brains work, and could have a profound effect on many areas of science and medicine.”
This is the first step to examine how memories manifest themselves in the brain, and how a brain stores specific pieces of data. The key aim is that eventually this will lead to a better understanding of development and of diseases and disorders which affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stoke and brain injury.
The robot’s biological brain is made up of cultured neurons which are placed onto a multi electrode array (MEA). The MEA is a dish with approximately 60 electrodes which pick up the electrical signals generated by the cells. This is then used to drive the movement of the robot.
Every time the robot nears an object, signals are directed to stimulate the brain by means of the electrodes. In response, the brain’s output is used to drive the wheels of the robot, left and right, so that it moves around in an attempt to avoid hitting objects.
The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer, its sole means of control is from its own brain. Click here to read more…
Warren Buffet doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone because his performance numbers speak for themselves. And that’s what makes it so interesting to hear him take Q&A: “The nastier the better”… as he says!
It’s a long video… if you are in a rush, here’s our summary of the various Q&A:
Q1. What do you look for in the people you like to work with?
WB: I like to work with people I like. I don’t look at their CVs or Grades to decide who can do what. In fact, I don’t even look if they have a degree. If you are working with people you don’t enjoy, please do yourself a favour, and leave the job and work with people you like. You’ll do better.
Q2. What kind of businesses do you like to invest in?
WB: I want to invest in businesses that are stable and where I can visualize it 10 years from now. Companies like Coke (soft drinks), Gillette (mens shaving blades) are examples of my investment choices. There are many others like GEICO (automotive insurance), Nebraska Furniture Mart (maximum sales from a single store location in the US), Iscar Metalworking Company (an industry leader in metal-cutting tools from Israel). I don’t have the understanding of technology-intensive business like software etc, and I stay away from them.
Q3. How do you do business valuation? How detailed is it?
WB: I like to invest in businesses where I have great comfort with the business owner. A paragraph is often sufficient to know the business value. The example being Nebraska Furniture Mart owned by Mrs. Rose Blumpkin, who recently turned 101 years, who has no formal education but has great common sense.
Q4. Tell us some of your bad decisions and what you learned from them?
WB: I invested in US Air though it was a difficult sector. Call it Temporary Insanity. I have learned that my bad decisions have happened when I had more cash than necessary. The airline industry is one step forward for mankind, a giant step backward for capitalism! And then there are other mistakes that conventional accounting does not capture, like the selling of 5% stake in Walt Disney (at $6m) within a year of buying it (at $4mn) in the 1960s. Today that stake is worth over a billion dollars.
Q5. Why not split the Berkshire Hathaway share to make it more affordable to investors?
WB: I think of my investors as a club or an audience in my presentation and we want long-term investors not traders. I don’t want high trading volumes for our shares. In fact, I will be happy with no trading at all. Our share price ($25k per share in recent times) has helped us maintain that seriousness and attract long-term investors.
News reports are that Dell is engineering an Apple iPod Rival, which will do pretty much everything that iPod does, but at a fraction of the price. Wall Street Journal has got hints that price may be in the range of just $100 USD, which surely looks very interesting. Guess they will launch it just before Thanksgiving Holidays :-)
This video has updates:
So those of us who want functionality, can use the Dell option (even LG/Samsung may come up with something soon). And those who want to use Apple (and feel stylish about it), can of course stay on with the iPod – surely there will be innovations in it. Steve Jobs is never satisfied with status quo- which is good.