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Do Icelanders Dream of Electric Sheep?
Small Electric Sheep's head.
In a country with more sheep than people, it's obvious that many Icelanders dream of sheep, but my question is whether these sheep are electric ... or plain old organic? Is Iceland moving towards a more digital future? I sure hope so.

In 2005, there were exactly 454.950 sheep in Iceland according to the Icelandic ThingCounter Association (Hagstofa Íslands), but only .... unfortunately their website choked while I was checking, so I can't tell you exactly how many people — but I do remember news about some poor lady recently giving birth to child number 300.000, so that's an approximate. Oh, hold on — here it is: In 2005 there were 299.891. Okay, so we've established that Icelanders are outnumbered by sheep which was supposed to be a 2 sentence joke ... on with the actual article.

In the eyes of many people who don't live here, I can imagine that we're igloo-building, whale killing sheep herders (that's all true, by the way. My igloo has a broadband connection). My concern is whether Iceland is going to continue being an island of sheep herders, or if we're going to embrace the future and become "the glowing island of technology, with so many neon lighted gadgets and robots that it can be spotted from Mars".

Iceland has thankfully adopted a lot of the latest in technology, such as high-speed internet connections (I'll be getting a fiberoptic connection early next year, 20-30mb+ wooha!) and gigantic wi-fi areas — a local phone company recently made a whole mall a hotspot... which, oddly, I've only used once. Shows how often I leave the house.

Large Electric Sheep's Head
A small team of young entrepreneurs decided to start a gaming company called CPP In 1997 — their first product was EVE Online, which nowadays breaks world records on a regular basis (number of players online in a consistent virtual world). Without reading to much into the success of one company — this kind of accomplishment really makes heavy industry plans (dams, smelting, etc.) smell of sheep herding. And there have been more "world" successful software companies back here: In 2004, HEX Software got nominated to Red Herring's list of Top 100 innovators.

We're seeing a lot of exciting stuff happening at Reykjavík University as well, I recently blogged about the world's first A.I. Radioshow Host, for example. Last year Iceland also saw its first A.I. festival, opened the first A.I. lab (which has now grown to be the most powerful research lab at RU) and started Iceland's first society for A.I. — if not all technology, then at least artificial intelligence is catching on.

There's no reason (to my knowledge) to think that Iceland can't become a leading developer of software. The software industry doesn't require foreign workers to move here (it has been reported that Icelanders generally do not care for labor work) — digital connections to foreign workforce would be sufficient. It doesn't require gigantic dams or housing, nor does it attract an angry protesting mob (as the heavy industry does) — and it doesn't require a lot of energy resources for transportation (digital transportation doesn't need oil from the Middle-east). Come to think of it, if the majority of Icelandic exportation was software — this little Island wouldn't need a lot of help from anybody. We'd have heating (Iceland has hot water resources), electricity (hot water again, and ok, a couple of dams) — and with our newly acquired electric sheep, we could just eat the organic ones.

All jokes aside, with decisive measures on behalf of the Icelandic government, I think we'd have a good shot at becoming large in the software development industry.

What do you think? I'd like to hear your comment on the subject! Do You Dream of Electric Sheep?

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