Slotted Technology- Visionary

slot-cars-1-d

Dear Reader, if you’re reading this, then we are in all likelihood, still connected like slotted race cars.

But what if technology is a disruption to our way of life?

There’s a part of me that just wants to hurry up and get old, so that I can see innovative technology in its golden years, in all its glory! Both tweaked and fully operational, as it was destined to be and not just downloadable bits & pieces that we agree to patch.

Innovative technology that’s specifically bought & sold, without warranty because it’s guaranteed already fully functioning, as it was designed to do.

It would be extremely nice to have the technology work in my home, as well as it did at Apple’s Genius Bar and be less daunting. Or at the very least, serve beer or cocktail for a user friendly environment.

Because as I go from rock & roll to rocking chairs and Nana launchers, those Lazy-Boy chairs with the easy stand-up lift, I want to glimpse the really good technology.  The kind of technology that improves the human condition and turns lives around.

Truth is, we all need a little more giddy-up and go in our smart technology.  So innovative that we all agree on climate change; we all see our better selves and we realize in  Maya Angelou’s words: “We are more alike my friends, than we are different.”

A future where tolerance is celebrated, patience is enjoyed and respect is doled out in equal proportions.  Surely if we can make driver-less cars without adding slots to our highways and roadways, we can…

Visionaries see that there is more on earth and it’s worthy.   Me?  I’m hurrying up to grow old, so I can catch up to technology & stay connected to people like you.

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Technology: Can We Live Without Plug-n-Play?

If not for Plug n Play

Sliding rulers always cause me to pause, if not for them where would we be?  USB technology is like that.

There was a time, when pocket protectors were like badges.  Mostly worn by those with above average intelligence, who felt comfortable with numbers.  People who owned a lot of pens, that wrote in multiple colors.  People who didn’t use a calculator to figure out the circumference of a circle, or how much to tip the waiter.  But who used a calculator to confirm answers that they already reached in their heads.

Life was simple and a pop quiz, was meant to gauge how much we knew, and what more we needed to learn.   It wasn’t quantum physics and the classroom wasn’t a prison.  The library, public and private were sanctuaries, where books evoked our imagination and inspired our adventures.

We believed in the world’s potential and we believed in ourselves.  We freely admitted limited knowledge of cyber kinetics, robotics and transportation, but were excited by the possibility!  Technology then, as it is now was exciting, it fueled innovation without teaching itself.

But something happened.  It may have always been there, nestled in the corners but when technology mixed into our daily lives, something went awry.  At first it was subtle, we interacted with automated teller machines (ATMs), we had always struggled with balancing the checking book, never enough money so nothing new there.  But then we pretended as if we knew and feign a smile as if we fully understood what we had only partially comprehended.

Our approach to life changed, people with the pocket protectors, became revered techies.  We eagerly numbered one or two among our friends and casually coaxed them out of basements and away from garages.  Hoping to invite them into our homes to take a look at our new personal computer that was just sitting there… unattached.  We quickly understood that geeks as we had called them, had a natural ability to delve into computer processing, and they easily interacted with connector pins, parallel ports, ROM and RAM.  They knew the jargon and could install drivers that made it go!

Where we had cursed a cursor that blinked and got hung up, the techie patiently typed and the computer responded.  Again, technology was exciting!  So we pretended we understood his instructions as we waved goodbye at the door, but deep down inside we felt hopelessness.  And then, before we got to admit that we didn’t get it, technology changed again.

It just went on about its business without the masses.  Rather than dumb down, tech developers just reversed the process and called a CPU a black box.  Convinced us that we didn’t need to know what was inside, that it would work and we humans would be very efficient when we used it, and so we did and they were right.  Hello World!

The Universal Serial Bus was a game changer, literally connecting us to our devices.  The thumb drive to the universal Plug-n-Play opened up vistas and we all became proficient at the same time.  We didn’t have to learn anything, no instructions, no lessons and no quizzes.  And we all started to relax, new technology has that affect on us.  Lulled into a false sense of security.  We created new words by simply adding an adjective to a noun– SmartTech: Smartphone, Smarthome, Smartwatch and Smartcities.   But where would we be without the power of USB Plug-N-Play?

Next week, there’ll be a Pop quiz…    hope we’re prepared.

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Filed under Baby boomers, PlugnPlay, SmartTech, technology

Tech Up

Coat of Arms cirsuit boards

How do we respond when we’re told that the only stupid question is the one that wasn’t asked? Hopefully, we ask.

It’s particularly important as technology continues to advance, placing more and more information readily at our fingertips and moving away from the notion that arches, loops and whorls, those distinctive patterns of our fingerprints are the only reliable mode of human identification.

Facial recognition systems allow a computer app to identify and verify a person from a digital image or a video frame from a video source, using selected facial features and a database.

When used with other biometric technology, including those fingerprints and eye iris scans, facial recognition can be extremely accurate at identifying us, but what’s beyond the pale is the social laissez-faire towards facial technology.

More often it’s being used on social media to identify who attended the bachelorette bash, the summer cook-out or the family reunion and it’s posted without intent of malice. Those smiling faces, young and old gathered together to celebrate life.

All very neatly named and tagged on FaceBook, Instagram and on SnapChat, and all shared with family and friends who weren’t invited, or who for a myriad of reasons, were unable to attend.  So many digital photographs curated and posted on the internet, forever.

And what about the little round faces, with pudgy cheeks who unknowingly and unwittingly have their photos taken over and over?  So innocent, just a photo taken of a little girl, that  should never have become a part of an illegal drug ring, or reappear in a trade magazine or be confiscated in a botched raid, one that included fake IDs’, but some how did.  And years later, that little girl grows up and is interrogated or denied international travel, misidentified because an age progressed photo “guesstimated” her adult facial features?  We humans, after all  have but one face to be digitalized, recognized and identified.

Children grow up, people grow old and fancy pictures of our younger selves.  Humored by how young we looked, but somehow, long after time and the natural elements of this world have caused our faces to wrinkle and our memories have begin to fade, what about all those photos?  Who’ll ask us then, is that a picture of you?

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Filed under Apps, Photo, photography, Selfie, technology

Tech Armor, A Girl’s Security

Techny Armor 2

In many ways, the radio is old timey technology.  A throw back of simpler times, when air waves weren’t modulated and a slight hum was tolerable, as was fumbling with the dial to bring the station in clear.  Nowadays, I only listen when I’m alone driving in my car.

In that closed interior, with the world just beyond my windshield, I’m comforted to hear a voice other than the one in my head.  I tire of reminders,  conflict in my schedule, errands that I need to run and I things left undone, like the shirt that requires my attention and the button I keep forgetting to sew back on.  The radio’s DJ is friendly, almost bubbly with idle chatter, pertinent today, and boring enough so I don’t have to focus all of my attention, half-listening and half being indifferent and non-opinionated.

This is pure technology, copper wire and vacuum tubes, transistor radios, soldered circuitry that’s also portable.  Radio reaches people in a way that television never will, because there’s no visual accompaniment to distort one’s own self-image.   Without product placement, without luxury and without perfect abs.  Instead we’re captivated by a voice, the radio personality’s enthusiasm and a distinct annunciation of words.  In between commercials, there’s a nice mix of music.  I like singing along, belting out a Frank Sinatra song or absent mindedly humming along to Billie Holiday’s August in New York.

Ironically, I always have perfect pitch when no one else is the car, my inner ear comes out.   And then, the very best part of radio, is during the “goldie oldie” moment, when that one long forgotten song comes on and miraculously, I know the lyrics!  And soon the warm feelings return, the powdery fluff of nostalgia.  It makes me smile to myself, as I drive along the road.  And I’m reminded again that simple technology, like the radio has a powerful control over me.

Yesterday, a DJ invited listeners to call in with their stories.  One woman called in excitedly, she had recently lost 150 pounds.  Her happiness oozed from the radio’s airwaves.  This stranger made me smile.   Like her, as a kid I too had been teased, she plagued by obesity and me with my big nose.

Now, here she was on the radio sharing the fact that she carried an old photograph and called it a “Fattie-Selfie”,  a reminder of her former self.  And that was it, the radio personality acknowledged her achievement, told her that she was beautiful!  And then thanked her for calling in, made an off-handed comment about the telephone lines being lit up and took the next call.

I blinked, the era of stringed pearls and frilly aprons forever gone.  I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Like the radio caller, I too was now comfortable with my looks, I seem to have grown into my big nose.  Or I wasn’t as self-conscious, perhaps a result of being too busy to take notice.  Still, I recall what it felt like, to not resemble the models in any of the fashion magazines.  When I was a young girl, fairytales always made me think being powerless was okay, by taking away the option of having power, as if by design.

As I pulled into an empty parking space, I saw a group of little girls eating ice-cream laughing, and enjoying their silliness.  They were at that perfect age, when looks don’t matter and eating has nothing to do with disorders.   That being self-sufficient means she can tie a good knot in her shoelaces, as a preamble to running wild and free.

The radio DJ introduced a new song, it was upbeat and a perfect segue from the girls back to my reality.  I reached over to cut the car engine off and thought those little girls will make their own shiny suits of armor; I hope it fits them well.

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, technology

Technology Safe

Brain tinkering 2

In a knowledge-based economy, where everything is always on- demand and live-streaming, the old adage of having the whole world in the palm of one’s hand, for all intent and purposes is a reality.

The fast paced advances that we’ve seen in mobile technology have opened a wide swath of possibilities to how corporations conduct their business to how they support employees and reach their customers. Enterprise mobility is one of those tools that like a hammer, adds to the business’ toolbox and makes every problem look small.

Part of that success is scalable; it’s replicable and most important it’s manageable. These three things weren’t always compatible, but we’re seeing developers tackle problems ahead of impact. Apps are being introduced on a daily basis that address issues, recognize problems and enhance the user experience, both customizable and in real time.

This has created more opportunities for businesses, as both employees and customers pick up their devices —smartphone, tablets and laptops to access the internet from wherever they are, whenever they choose and it’s in this stay connected Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environment that makes enterprise mobility feasible. But giving employees total access to the company’s information has risks, making confidential data vulnerable to hacks and other security concerns.

And the responsibility to protect information isn’t the employees or the customers, but in effect becomes the enterprise’s burden. Because as a customer I’ve only loaned you my data, my rights haven’t been given or bartered away, beyond the reasonable time frame that it took for me to conclude my business with you.   And while the convenience is shared, your website having provided a gateway as if by magic on my sidebar and me going ahead and clicking, doesn’t absolve how we became engaged.  After all, entrapment in the digital world leaves footprints, and my use of any app is limited.  But, I do love the appeal of interfacing seamlessly without stepping a foot outside of my door, but the truth is I believed it when I read that my data was, I was assured, safe from hackers.

So, imagine my surprise when I received a letter via snail mail!

Interestingly enough, I can hardly recall that transaction.  It seems that data breaches can take on average, up to 200 days to detect, that’s quite a long time.   And scrambling to assess the extent of the damage, before acting on it and then issuing new credit cards, seems a pathetic waste.   Did you know that $200billion is the projected global economy loss due to a data breach?  Me either.    It seems an expensive way of conducting business in a digital world.  Come to think of it, it might be cheaper to maintain an ongoing dialogue with everyone and to hire cyber-security to help keep what needs to be safe, safe.

 

 

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Filed under Consumers, cyber-security, Mobile enterprise

Technology’s Subliminal Mission

NASA Valkyrie

I was just thinking…

How easily we’ve accepted artificial intelligence, how cozy we are when we’re introduced.   Recently NASA delivered Valkyrie, its humanoid R5 robot to Northeastern University and M.I.T.  where the response was exciting but quaint, like a family reunion.

We were interested, but not awed.  In an earlier era, we would have gawked at his size and the audacity of his mission, to land on Mars!

For the next two years, as scientists and engineers prepare him for his long journey, we’ll go about our business of texting, emailing and being slightly annoyed with our technology.  Meanwhile, Valkyrie’s cognitive intelligence will be developed.  He’ll be given the ability to reason, to build and to understand logical assertions taken from his sensory perceptions and to use that information to solve simple and complex problems.

We’ll be momentarily fascinated and encouraged by reports.  But we’re not going to ask ethical questions.  We’re not going to wonder if we might’ve gotten a bit ahead of ourselves, that maybe we’ve placed the cart before the horse.  In fact, our quick success at artificial intelligence hasn’t required us to question organic intelligence.   We haven’t paused to understand the universe, or our place in it.   Not all of us are smart enough to create a virtual galaxy, to write code or to even understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

We don’t know what came first, the chicken or the egg and we’ve resolved ourselves to possibly never knowing the answer. We don’t know, nor do we truly care how the internet or our cellphone work, we simply need them to work.  We entrust it with our most important information, from bank accounts to telephone numbers, those things once stored in our heads.

Artificial intelligence seems a good name, as the imperfect create perfection.  There’s a possibility that we’ll get it right, because sprinkling bits and bytes of humanity doesn’t seem too far off, besides we’ve managed pretty well by not knowing things.

But these are extraordinary times!  The stars seem to have aligned themselves and mankind’s journey seems to be destined for greatness.  Once again genius has arrived, as if there’s an honored time and place, some synergy to when great minds are born.  It’s not likely that great minds would be understood by the general population; the Newtons and the DaVincis would have been lost to prosperity, had their peers been unable to understand their ideas.  Up until now, it’s been organic intelligence that’s changed humanity, propelling us forward across oceans and into space.

As if technology had been placed into our sleeping psyches, allowing us to make use of mathematical equations and scientific knowledge via smart technology.  Giving us a chance to experience space, black holes and zero gravity, without having to touch them.

And by training Valkyrie for a mission to Mars, we might be in training to become our better selves.

I was just thinking…  What were you doing?

 

 

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Filed under Life, technology

How Technology Stacks Up

1 tech typewriter

Lately, technology has been a stark reminder of time.

I’ve come to realize it’s not that life whizzes by too quickly or that time ticks too slowly.  The truth is, time just passes without any change in pace whatsoever.  How we manage it determines how we view it, like looking through a glass of water.

Yesterday, I climbed the attic steps and discovered my old smelly typewriter, I smiled. How long had it been since I’d replaced it with the newer technology, an odorless plastic keyboard that didn’t need ribbon.  I miss that, as I miss my daughter’s hair ribbons now.

I stopped writing when she was born, because I imagined time wouldn’t wait up, or slow down for me to fully experience motherhood. I decided it would be well worth it, to feel my kids sneaking up on me.  They’d struggle to contain happy giggles, as they slipped and slid across our wooden floors in stocking feet, determined to catch me off guard in a loving surprise.  All of the carefree giddiness of childhood, set free from curled lips before the age of teen modesty!

I relished the thought that they would reach from behind and cover my eyes with their little round hands.  And more than anything, I wanted my response to be simply happy.  Expressed by my feigned surprise and their squeals of delight at having surprised me.  Of course they hadn’t, but what did that matter?

Later, in their rooms by the night light, I’d read someone else’s words to them and miss my own.  And I never thought to shut the book too soon, or to shut them out.  It was important for them know I would be there when they woke up, available to them.  Unabashed and unafraid because they understood my love and the difference between their “mommy” and its homonym, the word “mummy”.

Now, the house is quiet.  And as I look around the attic, I’m noticing how much of my life has become obsolete, like the outdated technology that’s stacked high.  And not in any particular order, not like our chronological lives.

I’m reminded of the passage of time, I see it in my typewriter to my computer to my laptop to tablet…

Well, at least I’m writing again.   There’s no need to worry that I’ll be interrupted by the sound of little feet scurrying across the floor, or round hands cupped over my eyes.   There’ll be no crying, no “boo-boos” and no childish quarrels or metaphorical fences for me to mend.

It’s time to plant new seeds and to insert dangling modifiers; to write down adjectives that will never completely describe the taste of water, or how technology faded away and re-invented itself.   Me too.

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Filed under Creativity, technology

Technology’s Turn to Play

Turnable 5

Everything is ripe for innovation.  Even those things that were innovated before can now, due to technology be improved upon and have little sensors embedded to generate data and that is our reality.

Somewhere from gramophones to turntables the technology went into a spiral, but even then the horn was replaced by external speakers that went wireless, and a needle still needs to intermittently be replaced, but pretty much the general design is still there.  Going round in circles, and it makes you wonder if the ecosystem that music created, that basic hand cranked record playing machine hasn’t created a sluggish evolution.  That is the music that becomes popular changes the technology that we use to play, and how we listen to the media.  And then it’s all back to what it was, a little bit like musical chairs.

And now it’s all changing again as streaming music lulls us into a false sense of security, away from change that is coming.

Music!  That one word implies so much, it’s cultural and music tells a story, our history.  The human experience in a universal language that most of us can’t speak, because we can’t play the instrument, but we hear it, we listen to the strings quiver, the wails and the horns and we know, we all know classical to work songs, to spiritual hymns to blues, to marching bands to jazz to big bands and ballads to rock-n-roll, rhythm & blues, disco and rap.  We listen in concert halls, auditoriums, dance halls, night clubs, and jazz clubs and in what the French referred to as music libraries- discotheques and inside the four walls of our homes.

The stories sometimes have crossover appeal and even the misquoted linger, because their elemental truth touches us, like the first line of William Congreve’s play: “Music has charms to sooth a savage breast”.

It’s not just technology that’s changing, we’re changing.  Our styles, which is what’s pleasing to us, mostly secular and without tradition aren’t established by laws and policy, but somehow we hear what we like. Music is played and we like it, before we know what we like.    It can be music from a television commercial, theme music or a movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey still delights generations and still plays nicely on vinyl.

In 1948, Columbia records used microgrooves to store sounds and set the tone, literally when every other company followed and we’ve been going round ever since.   Every few decades innovation visits, once it brought with it tape and little plastic wheels, cassettes to 8-tracks to CDs and streaming, and I’m reminded of my Bang-Olufsen linear tracking turntable, but eventually I returned to my Marantz.

Technology sometimes has that affect… Going around in circles and replicable.

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Technology Sees Political Disruption

Eyeglasses

Political disruption!   This election season seems quite different from previous Presidential campaigns and it’s not just because its a Leap Year.

Similar to the phenomenon of “Innovative Disruption”, a term coined by Clayton M. Christensen 1995; it’s a changing of the guard.  An abrupt move away from long standing established markets by new ways of marketing and new network markets.

But it’s also about voters in a digital world, their data collected and stored is failing to tell their story.  When did Americans begin to feel left out, pulled in and tossed about, every which way but loose?

I’m not sure, but I think I became a little less passionate about politics in 2008, during that historical election when a woman and an African-American ran for the most powerful office in the world.  Back then, news outlets hand pumped information via their own agendas and grew with advertising dollars.

It was then that I noticed my rose colored glasses weren’t tinted, they were tainted.   And in true visionary fashion, I’ve been squinting in the dark ever since.

So, as this political season started out in mass confusion, that is too many candidates, I shrugged and thought, who cares?   Hell, we’ve been buying technology in beta format for years.  Troubleshooting, hacking and fervently downloading bug fixes and we’ve become accustomed to incomplete software and swiped malware into our homes.

It stands within reason, that we’d accept candidates who are trending on social media platforms, as if “Likes” and “Follows” gauged the qualification of a U.S. Presidential candidate.  As if streaming live video and on-demand news would expose a candidates’ flaws like pixels in the image.   And without our having noticed, the political arena became ripe for disruption, like a cracked system failing its citizenry.

But, what would happen if we sat this election out?   If being weary kept us off the battle field?  What would happen to the gains we’ve made?  Even now, as we revisit Roe versus Wade for the umpteenth time and protestors scream at Planned Parenthood sites… under scrutiny still, after so many years… really?

How slow do we go before we realize we’re going backwards?

Voting, it seems is becoming another chore, and a rather huge inconvenience.  Cynicism has weighed heavily, like an anchor and keeping dreams afloat a little longer by faith isn’t sustainable. Truth is, technology doesn’t even care.   Like everything else, politics is ripe for change.

Off in the distant horizon of what was once a prairie, the American flag is waving…  hello or good-bye?  The digital world doesn’t need daydreamers, it demands visionaries.  Be that!

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Filed under Gender Equality, Google Glass, Politics

Tech Enlightened

$ Lightbulb

Progress! By definition, smart technology implies intelligence and enlightenment.  Used responsibly, it improves life on a global scale and it begs the question, what happens when a lightbulb is unscrewed?

Once upon a time, people worried that electricity would leak from an empty socket.   And we can understand how they might’ve reached that conclusion, it seems reasonable.

Most great technology that improves life also has the potential to be harmful. There’s a dark side that if left unmonitored could present a real danger. From x-rays to Big Data, we’ve become increasingly powerful and vulnerable all at once.

Technology has become incredibly small, invisible to most microscopes and yet, quantifiably humongous. Usurping our lives but also improving it, making everything we do in real-time tangible and with results that can be analyzed, understood and used for good.

And all the while, our footprints can be tracked, stacked and gathered.  How we do what we do, when we do it, where we’re doing it, analyzed and visualized.  The right questions asked, the algorithm applied and the data collected.

Smart cities that measure pot holes and compute their own capacity-duress until repair, can schedule that pavement crew and reroute traffic, anticipate patterns and give curbside bus arrival updates, all in real-time.   Smart cars can intuitively not start when their drivers are inebriated, and likewise won’t start when they’re not road worthy, offering alternate modes of transportation, in some Uber- Lyft social good package, for free!

Smart  smart technology won’t lie, won’t hide, but what if it could be programmed to monitor the good it does?   Like fear is good.

Being cautious doesn’t mean we won’t proceed, just that we’re mindful in its use, the way we might lean over a window sill; seeing so much and yet careful not to fall out.  we can have the great technology and maintain a survival technique, the flight and fight adrenaline that propels us into action, not darkness.

In a digital world that’s spinning incredibly fast, having a sense of fear might preserve a culture.   Might remind us that we’re a learned society, one that has long been enlightened and free of walls.

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Filed under Big Data, innovation, tech, technology