Speaker Q-and-A: Alison Chaiken

[Blogger's Note: SCALE 10X will be asking the keynoters and some of the speakers to weigh in on their presentations for the expo. This is the Q-and-A for Alison Chaiken, who will be giving a presentation on "Automotive: The Next Frontier for Mobile Linux" at 6 p.m. Saturday.]

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: My name is Alison Chaiken. For years I worked on cool technologies in the area of device physics and BioMEMS, but the projects I worked on always ended in cancellation and opportunities were diminishing. I've used Unix and Linux for almost 30 years on my personal systems. When the original Bug and Gumstix came out, suddenly I had the epiphany that by I could convert my hobby into a career with more positive impact on the world.

Q: You're giving a talk at SCALE 10X on "Automotive: The Next Frontier for Mobile Linux." Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: That our current transportation system is unsustainable is no secret. My message is that now is the time when the Open Source Community should step up and help address the associated challenges, as the computing revolution is beginning to reach the automotive sector in a very real way. Just since I submitted my SCALE abstract, Toyota, Nissan and BMW gave presentations at the Automotive Linux Summit, and Ford and General Motors announced that they will releasing Linux-based Software Development Kits. While Microsoft Windows Embedded has a significant market share, several cars running Linux are already shipping in volume.

Q: If automotive uses for Linux is fairly new, what can we expect in the future?

A: As the desktop continues to pale in significance and phones and tablets mature, the battle for dominance will shift to cars, medical devices, home appliances and so forth. Linux can make the difference on these new platforms just as it always has: by giving users choices and access to data. The creativity of our community can help address the tough problems of the transportation sector, and the associated job and investment opportunities are already appearing.

Q: Is "automotive Linux" just for motorheads and car hackers?

A: Absolutely not. Even if you hate cars and don't own one, you might want to consider as you enter the crosswalk whether the car approaching the traffic light is infected with malware or if the driver is busy updating his Facebook status. Transportation systems impact all of us no matter how we use them. Car companies don't have the expertise to create great smart-transportation applications; it's up to us!

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: Last year was my first SCALE and I'm greatly looking forward to returning for many years. SCALE is a wonderful combination of information upload and plain old socializing. I look forward to learning about the latest innovations, to seeing live demos at the Exhibit, and to just hanging out with the peeps.