For those of us that spend a good part of the day stuck in SoCal traffic, Google’s self-driving car offers a tiny glimpse of future salvation. We’re a long way off from streets filled with autonomous autos, but Google’s cars have driven 1.7 million miles so far, have only been in 11 accidents, and apparently humans were at fault in all cases. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone with any measure of self-awareness and experience with today’s technology. After all, technology provides us with a means to amplify our own innate abilities and allows us to achieve objectives that might be beyond our unassisted reach. It also grants us the ability to fail faster and sometimes in a spectacular way.
What this means for you:
My newer clients are frequently surprised to hear me say, “Sometimes, less technology is better.” It sounds like a butcher preaching a vegan life-style to his customers. The main reason I say this is not because I’m a Luddite (far from it!) but that I often come across instances where someone has become temporarily blinded by what I call the “Shiny Factor” and has adopted or implemented a technology that complicates rather than simplifies their original intent.
A prime example of this are clients that purchase software or even new computers to deal with an increasing volume of email, when the simpler (but not necessarily easier) solution would be to reduce the volume of email. Purchasing expensive firewalls won’t prevent infections caused by poorly-trained employees. Faster, more powerful computers won’t fix broken process automation or buggy software, nor will a faster internet connection necessarily result in more productive workers. It’s a dangerous, slippery slope, and can become self-perpetuating spiral of expense, frustration and complexity. As the old adage goes, the cure may end up being worse than the disease.
Are we doomed? Only if we continue to ignore that technology is created to serve us, and not the other way around. Technology is not meant to replace humans, but to amplify us. It’s up to us to make sure that the good is amplified and the bad minimized wherever possible, and sometimes to solve problems or get work done the old fashioned way – with a little elbow grease, human ingenuity, and common sense.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It must be another day ending in “Y” as hackers are making headlines again: Airplanes, cell-phone chargers and now your car might be the target of hackers. As you might have already guessed, auto manufacturers have been building computers and networks into cars for years now, and modern models can have as many as 70 different computerized systems that control every aspect of the car: braking, steering, acceleration, etc. Where there’s a computer, hackers are sure to follow, and security experts have successfully demonstrated hacks on late model cars that can take over just about any aspect of computerized systems including slamming on the brakes full the car is at full speed, jerking the steering wheel and shutting down the engine completely.
What this means for you:
Before you drive your shiny new ride over to the nearest Cars for Causes office and pack the family off to that bunker in Montana, you should know that the hackers in question worked for months to crack the auto systems on a specific model of car, and in most cases the hacks required physical access to the vehicle. However, according to past reports, ethical hackers from UCSD have managed to compromise at least one late-model GM vehicle via wireless methods, and it’s hard not to imagine that as automobiles become even more complex and automated (Google’s self-driving car, anyone?) as well as wirelessly connected to the internet, the unethical hackers won’t be far behind in tarnishing what otherwise might be a bright, self-driving future.
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net