Too much new stuff!

   Doesn’t it seem like there is a new app, device, or scientific breakthrough every day?  Hard if not impossible to keep up with.

This past year, the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas had 140,000 visitors viewing 3100 exhibits.  I went in 2011, when there were only 2800 exhibits of new and cool stuff to see and play with.  Didn’t get to more than a couple of hundred exhibits.  Might have done better if the crowds had been smaller and I could have used a Segway!  Of course, most of it could be viewed via the web, but there is no substitute for playing with the new “thing.”

Seems I hardly get used to a new app and it gets updated by the author, or a better one is offered for only a few bucks more.  It has taken me a year to begin to master my iPhone and I can now upgrade it and learn even more new stuff!

As the pace of technology increases, will the demand for these new capabilities also increase? Seems so.  New phones and cool apps are devoured quickly by the masses.  The younger generations appear to be very comfortable and to expect an almost constant barrage of newness.  Us older folks just seem to struggle and often fall behind.

Most of this new technology makes life easier, better, and more fun.  It also provides new opportunities for criminals and other assorted bad guys to spy, rob, and generally mess with the rest of us.  Unlike the break-neck speed of new technology, our system of governance and civil defense moves at the pace of the 1790s debate club that generated it.  Not surprising that our laws, policies and doctrine are a bit out of date.

Maybe time for some of this technology to be applied to governance.  I would love to see an app that would let me zap the next Congressman I hear saying something stupid!




No hiding on the grid

  Seems that we are constantly being watched, listened to, monitored, or hacked!  I understand there are over a million cameras watching London visitors as they flock to Wimbledon and the Olympics.  Add this to the proliferation of cameras at stop lights, intersections, stores, malls, parking lots, schools, playgrounds, and even offices.  Someone is always watching!

Plus, everything I do that touches the grid seems to be in use against me…often with the excuse that it is for my benefit.  Every time I buy anything, the purchase is tracked by some frequent buyer program or credit card monitoring group.  All of this data is used to catch bad guys stealing credit cards and to improve service provided to me.  Great!  But I know it is also used to build and send ads my way that directly speak to me and my buying habits.

This is not necessarily bad.  I like the fact that Amazon knows what books I like and sends me notices about new ones that I will like.  I also like the fact that my food market prints out coupons for me that speak to my wants and needs.  I really like the 5% discount I get for letting them track my data this way.

Many of the newer apps that we download onto our pads and phones track our usage data too.  They claim that this is just so they can improve the product and service.  Hope so.

What really worries me is the potential for someone to gather all of this data on me, analyze it well and discover that I am a flake, a slob, uneducated, or a redneck just looking for someplace to hide.

Not unthinkable.  DARPA had a program a few years back that wanted to do this in order to find terrorists hiding in our midst.  Worthy goal.  Just worried about the potential for misuse.

What if someone used this data to find the people who might be planning a crime?  What if their “pattern” of interaction on the grid showed them to be dangerous?  Would we arrest them, a la Minority Report?

Scares me some.